By Lori Foster, 1998, Category Romance
Harlequin Temptation Blaze #675, $3.75, ISBN #0-373-25775-9

Grade: C Sensuality: Warm

Lori Foster has attempted a modern-day version of Sleeping Beauty. While the attempt was admirable, the results were merely adequate.

Sebastain Sinclair is a successful security consultant who allows himself to be auctioned off to benefit a women’s shelter, even though he’s reluctant to spend any time with some “shallow blue-blood.” Brandi Sommers is only attending the auction to support her sister, Shay, who organized it. Brandi avoids situations where she’ll be surrounded by men because of a traumatic experience when she was eighteen – her life as a woman lies sleeping inside.

Big sister Shay notices her interest in Sebastian and buys him and a fantasy week at a romantic mountain hideaway for Brandi’s birthday. Brandi isn’t too pleased, but she’s fascinated by Sebastian and agrees to the trip.

Soon Sebastian and Brandi are ensconced in a romantic cabin in the mountains. The two perform a careful dance while becoming increasingly intimate with one another. Brandi is convinced she’s not woman enough to hold onto a man like Sebastian. Sebastian senses her pulling back and jumps to the wrong conclusion. So much so that when their week is up, they return home at cross purposes, resulting in a miniature big misunderstanding.

Sebastian was a pretty special hero. His tenderness with Brandi will appeal to readers. It’s rare to find a man as emotionally aware of a woman as Sebastian was of Brandi. Given the nature of Brandi’s problem, however, I had a little trouble believing it could be overcome as quickly as it was. She’s so inexperienced that he has to explain her body’s physical reactions to her (which makes for some interesting moments). The story takes place within a five day period, and even though Sebastian is one of the most sensitive heroes I’ve come across lately, the short time frame bothered me.

The length constraints of a Temptation were also a problem in how the ending was written. It seemed a bit abrupt, mainly because I wanted the author to explore the emotional side of Brandi’s problem, not just the physical. Sebastian was very sensitive to Brandi’s sexual insecurities, but had he reassured her emotionally, the impact would have been greater.

Most of Fantasy involves just Sebastian and Brandi. I like finding a book that focuses on the relationship between the hero and heroine. This type of romance seems to have become rarer these days, and it’s my favorite. I’m grateful to any author who provides one. So, if you like romances completely centered upon the hero and heroine, and can get around the lack of emotional depth, Fantasy might work for you.

— LaNita Cornwall

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