The Lord's Inconvenient Vow
If you’re going to use a descriptor like ‘sinful,’ in your series title, you better bring the sinfulness. Hard. And if you don’t? Well, you better bring something else. Based on the blurb for The Lord’s Inconvenient Vow, I hoped the ‘something else,’ meant a great opposites attract pairing, and an awkward marriage of convenience. Instead, Ms. Temple gives us milquetoast archetypes, an uneventful story, and lots of lusting. I DNF’d the first book in this series, and unfortunately, The Lord’s Inconvenient Vow is another disappointment. Ms. Temple can write wonderful, romantic stories, but this isn’t one of them.
Samantha Sinclair spent her childhood in Egypt, tagging along with her two older brothers and their close friend Lord Edward Edgerton (Edge). Impetuous and tempestuous, spirited and adventurous, Samantha is Edge’s opposite in every way, and he never lets her forget it. When the story opens, Edge is chastising Samantha – again – for taking unnecessary risks. And as is their usual routine, they argue – she urges him to unwind and relax, he asks her to be careful – until Edge casually mentions that he’s come to say goodbye. He’s leaving the following day for England, and he plans to wed. Samantha, who has harbored a secret crush on Edge for years, is surprised and devastated, and barely manages to hide her feelings. When he turns to leave, she behaves like the impulsive eighteen year old Edge believes her to be, knocking him over (literally) and kissing him. He’s shocked (and aroused), she’s embarrassed, and they part in a flurry of awkward apologies.
Eight years and a disastrous marriage apiece later, Samantha and Edge find themselves together once again in Egypt. After Edge left, Samantha moved with her mother to Venice, and rushed into marriage to a stranger, hoping he could replace Edge in her heart. Instead she found heartbreak and loneliness; Edge, newly aware of his lusty feelings for wild pal Samantha, suppressed his feelings and married another woman anyway. Although neither knows it, their marriages followed a similar trajectory – unhappiness, tragedy and ultimately, loss. When they meet again, Edge – still mourning the death of his young son Jacob – has left his home in Brazil to track down his older brother, Grey, who is rumored to be in Egypt; and Samantha, widowed after her husband drowned in a Venice canal, has returned to Egypt hoping for a fresh start.
Absence, it turns out, has indeed made the heart grow fonder. Although Samantha and Edge immediately resume their bickering – he still thinks she’s taking unnecessary risks, she’s still reminding him he’s a boring nag – there’s a new wrinkle: neither of them can forget that passionate kiss so many years ago. This new awareness of each other, and the attraction they feel whenever they’re together, lends a new tension to the relationship. Days spent in each other’s company eventually lead to furtive, passionate kisses… until Edge learns Grey has returned to England, and makes plans to follow him. Samantha, anxious about her own future and still in love with Edge, takes a risk and suggests they get married. They can travel to England together, and once they find Grey, make a home together. Edge, blinded by lust, agrees. Oops.
Friends, I was hopeful Ms. Temple could make this work, but she doesn’t. Samantha is initially depicted as something of a wild child, but since this first part of the story is so brief, we never actually see her in action. We’re told Edge is handsome (of course he is!) and responsible, but he comes off as a boring and overprotective dud. When they meet up again in Egypt, nothing has changed – except they’re both really sad, and neither one wants to talk about why. Samantha still likes to climb on top of things (this is the total sum of her ‘wild’ behavior), and he still likes to nag her to behave. Sometimes it’s hard to believe these two even like each other, they’re so different. The proposal comes totally out of the blue and has more than a whiff of desperation – they barely know each other, and Edge’s acceptance follows a similar pattern. He’s convinced he’ll never have a relationship with Samantha and methodically makes plans to leave her, but then when she proposes he’s so overcome with lust and the thought of seeing her naked, he says yes.
After this, the story proceeds along predictable lines. Edge continues living life as if he’s single (he abandons Samantha for two weeks the day after they arrive in England), and then apologizes when Samantha gets mad or frustrated. Samantha sits at home frustrated and vowing to stay mad, and then Edge kisses or touches or rubs against her and apologizes, and they make up. In bed. With crazy hot sex. Because that’s the only place they can be their truest selves. Yawn. And repeat. Over and over again. Frankly, the cycle grew tedious.
Meanwhile, Edge is still looking for his brother (truly, this boring plotline only exists to fill in the gaps between the lovemaking, fighting, lusting, and lovemaking) and they both try to hide the fact they’re in love with each other. Oh, and Edge is also keeping a big secret from Samantha. I had high hopes for the revelation of this secret – it promised to be a major stumbling block to happily ever after… except, nope it isn’t. It’s resolved just like every other disagreement. Friends, we’re told Samantha was a plucky, feisty young girl – but by the time we meet her eight years later, she simply seems desperate and weak. She impulsively married one man just to forget another, and then barely complains when Edge treats her like a petulant child, ignores her, and then fucks her into forgiveness. Edge doesn’t fare much better. He’s depicted as responsible, careful, and cautious… and he is! He’s also totally boring and unlikeable. But he’s a sex god in the sack… so there’s that.
Opposites attract is my favorite trope, and I kept hoping that as the story progressed – and the truth about their marriages and losses were revealed – I could somehow become more invested in Sam and Edge’s shared future; it didn’t happen. They don’t seem compatible in any way, and I simply didn’t buy them as a romantic couple. Although I enjoyed Ms. Temple’s earlier series, Wild Lords and Innocent Ladies, The Lord’s Inconvenient Vow is a disappointment. Predictable and plodding, I can’t recommend it.
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