Tempted By Her Innocent Kiss
I originally picked up Tempted By Her Innocent Kiss for the simple reason that I don’t often read the Desire line, and I was a little curious. I almost put it down after the opening chapter. Thankfully, I gave this book a chance because this story’s hero starts off horribly, but has a wonderfully believable change of heart.
Businessman Devon Carter comes off as the ultimate manipulator at the beginning of the book. He has made a deal with heiress Ashley Copeland’s father that will merge their business empires if he will only marry Ashley. The merger is Devon’s greatest dream come true, and he figures that since he would never mistreat Ashley, tricking her into marriage doesn’t make him a bad guy.
We learn early on that Ashley is young, idealistic, and naive. She and Devon have been dating, and he has played this to his advantage, convincing Ashley that he is smitten. The book begins as Devon calculates his seduction of her. He plans to take her to bed for the first time, and then to propose. It’s actually a very effective – and somewhat off-putting – scene as we see Devon’s seduction of Ashley, and their engagement. Ashley has very obviously fallen in love. Devon, on the other hand, plays his role very well.
Devon likes Ashley, but he’s hardly head over heels. While he finds her beautiful and her exuberance unexpectedly touches him, he’s a little slower to develop feelings. Not surprisingly, there comes a moment when the cat is let out of the bag, and Ashley figures out what is going on. At this point, she leaves Devon and it is then that he starts to realize just how much he felt for her.
I’ll admit that when I read that first chapter and saw what a cold-blooded jerk Devon could be, I was prepared to loathe this book. However, the author does a good job not only of showing Devon cluing into how horrible he’s been, but also of showing various people in his life refusing to give him a pass for his treatment of Ashley. Devon doesn’t just go from jackass to Prince Charming overnight – he has some real soul-searching to do and he has to win Ashley back.
And Ashley doesn’t necessarily get off scot-free either. As I mentioned before, she’s rather young and inexperienced, and she can be a bit ditzy at times. However, she goes through her own maturing process in this book. Watching her learn to embrace who she is and to demand that any man in her life love her and accept her for that rather than for her trying to please him made me respect her by the end.
This is one of those books where the sex scenes really do tell a story in themselves. The opening scene where Devon seduces Ashley shows his manipulation of her, while a later scene shows the emotion between the two. It’s an effective contrast, and one that helped make the book work for me. This is a book that could have easily gone into wallbanger territory, but the author shows her characters’ change of heart very well, and that makes it work.