Tempted by His Kiss
When I started Tempted by His Kiss, I’ll admit to feeling some skepticism. Innocent, moderately childlike, delicate little blonde heroines generally aren’t my thing. I find this especially true when they are paired with older, brooding heroes since there’s something about the scenario that seems vaguely creepy to me. Tracy Anne Warren makes that part of the equation work in this book, though. However, what started off with promise ran off the track a bit in the second half, resulting in an uneven read.
After her father’s death, Meg Amberley and her maid set out for Scotland where she will live with her great-aunt. Along the way, a snowstorm forces them to seek refuge in Cade Byron’s Northumberland home. When confronted with her less-than-gracious host, Meg shows herself to be both intelligent and adept at gently poking fun at Cade. Cade may bluster (and protest he does when he learns that the weather will extend Meg’s time under his roof), but Meg has a disarming way of taking the wind out of his sails.
Injured in the Napoleonic Wars and haunted by his memories of torture and abuse, Cade lives a very solitary life. He does not entertain and often drinks to cope with his pain. Having a young female guest under his roof does not suit him, but against his will he finds himself enjoying Meg’s company.
During this first part of the book, the chemistry really comes together. The banter and conversation between Cade and Meg is charming and they really do seem to like each other. There is a definite attraction there as well, but both are bent on denying it, so things take time to build between them. It’s a good dynamic, and it held my attention much more than the usual, “Nice to meet you. Now I’m going to mentally lust after you for 30 or 50 pages until we finally get down to it on page 99.”
Things change after one of Cade’s more nosy neighbors calls on him and discovers Meg in the house. He tells the neighbor that she is his fiancee, and Meg and Cade then hatch a scheme. To preserve Meg’s reputation, they will pretend to be engaged until such time as they can end it with minimal social damage to either. In furtherance of the scheme, the two prepare to travel to London to introduce Meg to Cade’s family and to allow her to have a Season where she might meet a more suitable – and genuine- marriage prospect.
Unbelievable as the scheme is, Cade and Meg were such likable characters by this time that I truly wanted to believe in this crazy plan. Even as my mind screamed, “You have got to be kidding me!”, there was a part of me that went right along with the story. And I kept following until the two reached London since there were still enjoyable moments and the leads had decent chemistry most of the time. However, these got lost amidst the introductions to Cade’s family (foreshadowing future heroes and heroines, of course), a suspense plot, and a bit of unnecessary conflict tossed toward the end.
Though the London portion of Tempted by His Kiss frustrated me at times, I still enjoyed the lead characters. They bonded so well during their time in Northumberland that I couldn’t help rooting for them, even as I wished that the author would just stop it with the suspense plot already. Given the uneven nature of the story, I cannot recommend the book but it definitely has its good points and I am curious about the rest of the series.