Tempted All Night by Liz Carlyle
Pheadra Northampton has been a little too proper for as far back as anyone can remember and Tristan Talbo, Lord Avoncliffe, has been far too improper for as far back as anyone can remember. When a brothel employee Pheadra has asked for help in finding her niece's mother turns up dead Tristan's father asks him to investigate as the brothel owner is a Russian madame suspected of blackmailing and spying on members of the ton. Tristan and Pheadra are immediately and strongly attracted to each other. Pheadra's investigation of where Millie, her niece's mother, has disappeared to lead her to the same brothel Tristan is investigating and he becomes terrified that she will end up hurt as this particular brothel is known for peddling "deviant" sex (including unwilling victims).
Needless to say Tristan is determined that Pheadra will not embark on this investigation on her own, due to the danger of dealing with a woman obviously capable of using force. He offers to take over the investigation for her, but when things don't go as speedily as Pheadra wanted she confronts him and the two end up in bed. And Pheadra's sexual tastes are not the average virginal tastes that Tristan had been expected. Which is where we learn Pheadra's secret, which is just as bad as it could be, but is not really a surprise given some allusions to it in previous chapters. Eventually Tristan manages to weasel his way into the brothel and Pheadra insists on accompanying him. What follows is approximately 4 chapters of resolving the issues- a far cry from the usual 4-5 pages. Angst ensues, but we can all guess how the book ends. ;)
The sex in this was STEAMY. Crazy steamy really. It involved a lot of bondage- and not necessarily just the tie his/her hands to the bed, but it got pretty creative and did extend into talk of how Pheadra "needed" to be controlled. The excuse for this was that her sexuality was "too much" and "overwhelming" and so she needed someone to take it out of her hands. It was a little- odd but at least towards the end of the book we get glimpses of both of them being tied up and not just Pheadra, as she becomes more accepting of her sexuality. A review on amazing derides the S&M in the book- for the record; there is no sadism and there is no masochism. Neither likes to be hurt, neither likes to inflict pain- it is just bondage with talk of needing to be controlled- even though very little control is ever really exerted. I thought the book did a good job of contrasting Pheadra's (and Tristan's) sexual tastes from those of the brothe's clients, who really were into S&M, and making consensual kink acceptable.
Tristan's relationship with his father can best be described as shaky and at worst outright hostile and their relationship is never really resolved before his father's death. Not exactly typical for romances where issues/ problems are usually resolved (oftentimes in a brief paragraph) within the last two chapters. It definitely seemed more realistic this way. I was hoping there would be a little more angst- Pheadra's friend, Zoe, recommends that she try to make him jealous when she believes he's cheating on her, but alas that was a no go. There isn't even a good little bit of angst at the end of book when circumstances would make some great angst very probable. Carlyle does a great job of referring back to her old novels (including My False Heart which I loved) in a way that makes the reader really want to read them but not shake her head in annoyance that one has to be constantly reminded that everyone in romance novels live happily ever after.
Rating: The book was interesting, fun, filled with great characters, and steamy to boot. Unfortunately it didn't really have all the bang of a five- heart book.