Several things impressed me about Tongue-Tied, one of which is, for a Temptation, the characters have a surprising amount of depth. The challenges they face make them sympathetic, although some of the solutions they choose don’t always make a lot of sense. However, this is one of the few books of its ilk that is not based on a string of love scenes connected by a smattering of plot, which certainly makes it a cut above the rest.
Robin Lee is twenty-six, and stutters. She stutters especially badly when she’s frightened or nervous. When the story opens, we find Robin called to the front of the lecture hall to explain to the professor and the entire assemblage why she was late for class. Desperate to avoid further embarrassment, Robin stutters a few words, flees the classroom, goes to the office, and drops out of college.
That same evening, at work in Davey’s Diner, Robin runs into one of her classmates – one of the most popular girls at school. The girl makes jibes at “poor” Robin, so Robin decides to show her that, loser though she may be, she’s one hot cookie. She does this by throwing herself at the only other customer in the place, a tall, dark, handsome man who looks a lot like her older brother’s long-lost best friend Johnny. At first, the man is stunned, but then relaxes into it and starts to kiss Robin back.
Jonathan P. Dayton is indeed the Johnny that Robin remembers from her childhood. But Johnny has grown up to become founder and CEO of a telecommunications company and he’s no longer the sweet kid who helped her cope with her stuttering. When he realizes the woman at the other end of his lips is Robin, he’s overjoyed to have found her again. Perhaps she can help him return to his roots, to the man he was before he became so ruthless.
Johnny may think he’s become aloof and ruthless, but he’s nothing but gentle with Robin. After the kiss, he waits for her to get off work, then walks her home. Since he didn’t happen to bring any protection, he and Robin have “safe” sex (he keeps his pants on), and the next morning, Robin is one cheery little bird. While she looks forward to her next encounter with Johnny, he tells her he has to leave town for a few days. Johnny has lied to Robin and told her he’s in a blue collar profession rather than just coming out with his true vocation. This premise never made sense to me and it causes problems later (of course).
Robin and Johnny have a lot of sex, but he never actually takes her out anywhere. Their relationship evolves quickly, but since they’ve essentially known each other all their lives, I found that believable enough. Johnny came from a poor, abusive background and has made something spectacular of himself. I would have thought he’d want to share that success with Robin, but he keeps it to himself for quite a while. She’s really struggling and he could have helped her in many ways, but the only thing he really does for her is get her Jeep out of hock.
The reason Robin never got therapy for her stuttering isn’t clear and I’m not sure I believed that a twenty-six year old pursuing a degree in Literature would give up so easily, but then, there wouldn’t have been a story if she hadn’t.
Through a series of coincidences, Robin ends up writing speeches for Johnny, although, since it’s done through a third-party email situation, neither is aware of the other’s participation. Robin makes a huge assumption based on some initials that I don’t think I ever would have made, given the actual evidence, but when Robin realizes the stuffy CEO she’s writing speeches for is her own beloved Johnny, she becomes hurt and angry that he kept the truth from her.
The love scenes are tender and hot (as required), but it’s Johnny’s kindness and respect for Robin’s feelings that make this Temptation a little better than most. In fact, this story had a lot of potential for getting an even higher grade that it got, but enough purple prose and illogical situations kept it at just above average. Still, Johnny is a good hero, and Robin eventually does find her own way and displays growth of her own.
So, while Tongue-Tied isn’t exactly great literature, you could do worse.