Tempted by His Kiss by Tracy Anne Warren
While traveling to her aunt's house in Scotland Margaret Amberley finds herself seeking shelter from a crazy snow storm at the home of Lord Cade Byron. Meg's father has just died leaving her orphaned at nineteen and Lord Cade has spent the last several months moping and drinking at his Northumberland estate in an attempt to forget the horrors of his time in Portugal where he (and his fiance) were tortured by the French. The attraction between the two is obvious but both are scared to act; her being an innocent and him being "tortured" by the ghost of his dead fiance who was only killed because of her connection to him. Before Meg has time to leave after the storm abates a nosy neighbor discovers her and Cade hatches a plan where Meg pretends to be his fiance to save her reputation. The ultimate plan is for her to have a season in London, meet a man she can really marry and then leave him gracefully with no hard feelings.
Things don't go quite as planned in London as the two of them battle their attraction to each other. Cade is determined he will not ruin Meg and she is determined she will not fall in love with him. But when Cade becomes convinced that the man who betrayed him in Portugal is none but the hero of the hour and everyone's favorite soldier, Lord Everett, both of them are put in danger when no one believes Cade's seemingly far-fetched story. As the two become more and more entwined, both physically and lurve-ly, Meg takes it upon herself to spy on Everett, which infuriates Cade. The finally confrontation scene is a little far-fetched and the resolution is resolved rather quickly and crazily, involving double and triple decieving and general romance novel wrap it up in a scene-ness. Unfortunately the two still need to deal with their feelings for each other and that is not resolved in our confrontation scene but in a later, angsty little chase.
The first thing I noticed about the book was the way the two characters met; seeking shelter from a storm just seems so crazy, so unrealistic, and oddly enough overdone in romance novels. I would think with something so unlikely it would only occur once or twice, but it does seem to be a staple way of throwing two people together who otherwise wouldn not have made. However, the two characters made up for it; Meg is young and naive, but not irritatingly so, and Cade is haunted by his past, but at least it's not some of the ridiculous nonsense that some romance novel heroes are haunted by. Their feelings are real and they develop in a completely realistic and well-written manner and the sex is hot-tish (not woah steamy or anything) and (almost) frequent enough. The side-plot of Everett only makes it's appearance halfway through and it appears infrequently, but importantly throughout the rest of the book. It was well done, except for the big plop of resolution at the end, and a nice little way to draw the two together and force them to acknowledge their feelings for each other. Not at all overwhelming.
Like all romance novels this one has it's share of awkward and laugh- inducing internal dialogue, but for the first time I had to actually copy one here because of it's sheer insanity; "This limbo in which I am living preys upon my mind and stabs at my heart." I was somewhat disappointed by the amount of angst in the book, especially since we are teased with little snippets of it when Cade becomes jealous of Meg's suitors and she expresses (internal) jealousy over his dead fiance. I expected her brother (who is in on the plan) to force his brother's hand by fake-courting Meg and that would have been brilliantly angsty, but alas- no go. There was a nice little induendo of him possibly masturbating midway through, but it is difficult to tell if it was accidental or purposeful. Still kind of fun though. His relatives make frequent appearances seeing as how the two of them are living in his (brother's) house for much of the book and it becomes obvious midway through that the author is getting us ready for sequels.
Rating: It was rather slow going, and an unimaginative plot that was jammed up there at the end, but it had good characters, a real romance, and a side-plot that didn't ruin the novel.