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CONVERSATIONAL REVIEW: Tempted by Megan Hart

Janine: My friend Jennie F. and I had so much fun doing a conversational review of Jane Lockwood’s Forbidden Shores that we decided to do it again. Lo and behold, the subject of this discussion is also a novel about an erotic entanglement that involves two men and a woman! This time, it’s Megan Hart’s Tempted.

Jennie F.: Yes, it seems to be a theme with us!

Janine: LOL! Jennie, I’d like to start with a brief discussion of the labeling of this book and of its cover.

First, Tempted is described as “An Erotic Novel” on its front cover; and simply as a “Novel” on the spine. Are the book’s romantic elements strong enough that you would consider it a romance? Are its erotic elements prominent enough that you would call it erotica? Or do you feel that “erotic novel” is the right definition?

Jennie F.: I think coming up with a niche for this book (and to some degree, Hart’s other books) is a bit problematic. I would have a problem calling Tempted a romance, because I didn’t find the resolution very romantic; it was more bittersweet. The erotic elements are not prominent enough for me to label it erotica, though. Even calling it an “erotic novel”, I think, may mislead some readers.

Perhaps it’s just my own personal definition of “erotic novel”, but I wouldn’t necessarily expect to face some of the heavy emotional issues that Hart writes about in a novel labeled that way. I suppose “erotic novel” or simply “novel” works best for me, although the latter might leave some readers (albeit readers who don’t bother to look at the racy cover or read the back text) a bit shocked at the content.

Janine: Those labels work pretty well for me, but I brought it up because labeling and the way it sets up reader expectations has been a much discussed issue here at Dear Author. If we expect a certain kind of ending or a certain kind of content because of the way a book is labeled, and then we don’t get it, we can often feel very frustrated even though the book itself may be well-written.

Jennie F.: Yes. I think Hart is extremely difficult to classify; I’d almost call her erotic women’s fiction, but not the kind of women’s fiction that is at all chick-litty, more the sort of serious kind. I don’t think that label would fit on a spine, though. :-)

Janine: I understand what you mean, because Hart’s books do deal with women’s issues, and yet, I hesitate to call them erotic women’s fiction because I have this association to women’s fiction as a genre in which the characters sometimes lack a kind of romantic glamour that I crave; but Hart’s characters have that glamour in spades.

Getting back to the issue of genre and how much we want books labeled accurately. At the same time, I think it’s often true, for me at least, that some of the books that are most interesting and exciting to me are those genre-benders that are hard to categorize. The Time Traveler’s Wife, anyone?

Jennie F.: Oh, absolutely. Honestly, that’s a large part of Hart’s appeal, for me. Her prose is decent, but not remarkable, IMO. It’s the way she tells a story and combines different elements, confounding genre expectations. Usually that’s a good thing, but I think maybe not so much in Tempted.

Janine: I myself like her prose and think it is better than average. But before we launch into a discussion of the book, I want to know, what do you think about the cover?

I bring it up because I was grateful for online bookstores when I purchased this book. The photo on the cover is so explicit that I’m not sure I could have got up the nerve to grab this book from the shelf at a brick-and-mortar bookstore and bring it to the front of the store and then present it at the register.

On the other hand, when I did get the book in the mail, I was struck by the beauty of the cover, too. So I was wondering if it made an impression on you.

Jennie F.: It is lovely, but I’m a little uncomfortable with overtly erotic covers. I can bring myself to buy them in bookstores by reminding myself that the clerk probably doesn’t care *that* much what I’m reading.

Janine: You’re a braver woman than me! I still buy them, but off the internet.

Jennie F.: Hee. I still remember years ago buying a Black Lace book at Borders, getting a male clerk, and being so flustered that I forgot my change and he had to call me back for it. Very. Embarrassing.

I don’t usually buy erotic books (or romances, for that matter) in brick-and-mortar stores anymore, but that’s because my purchases in those genres are usually more planned, whereas the books I buy in brick-and-mortar stores (literary fiction or non-fiction, generally) tend to be impulse buys.

But reading them in public would be a no-go. Though that’s true of a lot of the more bodice-rippery romance covers, too, though for a slightly different reason (for the former I worry that people think I’m a pervert; for the latter, a twit).

Janine: I read Hart’s Broken (the cover of that book made it clear it was erotic subject matter, but wasn’t as visually explicit as the cover of Tempted) in a public place, but I have to confess that I felt self-conscious about it and wondered if people were looking at me and if so, what they were thinking.

I really wish I had a little more “Who cares what people think?!” in me.

Jennie F.: Yeah, I’m saving that for when I’m 80. I plan to use it to harangue various low-level functionaries about typographical and grammatical errors (like the movie marquee I saw recently that advertised the film “Before the Devil Knows Your Dead”). I’m too aware of how fussy and pedantic I’d come off doing it now, but I figure with one foot in the grave, I won’t care so much.

Janine: LOL.

Jennie F: I think the cover of Tempted nicely conveyed what the book is about, though.

Janine: Yes, I agree. And it’s also a thing of beauty — the beauty of the human body.

Jennie F.: Right. It was sexy, and as I said a little too explicit for public consumption, but still tasteful and beautifully done.

Janine: Next, I’m going to launch into a description of the book for the benefit of our readers who haven’t read it:

Anne Kinney is in her late twenties and happily married to James, a nice, attractive guy with a good job. They have a house on the lake and what seems like the perfect life, until James gets a call from his childhood friend Alex. Alex and James were best friends for years until they had a falling out.

Alex moved to Singapore shortly after that, and when James and Anne married, a long distance friendship between Alex and James resumed. Now Alex has sold his company in Singapore for millions and is on his way back stateside. James invites him to stay at his and Anne’s house for a few weeks, and Alex takes James up on the invitation.

James is not his usual nonchalant self when he talks to Alex on the phone, so right off the bat, Anne is very curious about Alex and about James’s friendship with him.

While waiting for Alex to arrive, Anne meets with her three sisters to plan a 30th anniversary party for her parents. But Anne’s father is alcoholic, and although she doesn’t admit it to anyone else, Anne doesn’t understand why her mother puts up with it and why her sisters never really admit there is something deeply wrong in their family.

James’s family seems far more normal to Anne, but she also feels that she will never please James’s mother, who desperately wants Anne and James to have children. Anne is grappling with endometriosis and with memories of an unwanted pregnancy that ended badly, and she doesn’t know if she is ready to have children yet.

When Alex arrives, attraction flares between him and Anne. Anne discovers that Alex too comes from a dysfunctional family, and his bad boy allure is as powerful in its way as James’s good boy appeal. She finds herself telling Alex about the time her drunken father took her out sailing as a child and they almost drowned, something she never told anyone else about.

At the same time, there are times when Anne feels shut out by the rapport that Alex and her husband share. Yet James seems to desire her more than ever now that Alex is their houseguest. The boundaries between the three slowly begin slipping, and it is not clear to Anne what it is that any of them wants. Is Alex in love with James? Is James in love with Alex? And who is Anne more in love with, James or Alex?

I don’t want to reveal too much more about the main plot, although it should be obvious to anyone who has glanced at the cover that eventually Anne, James and Alex end up in bed together.

There are also storylines about two of Anne’s sisters that get developed later in the book.

Tempted is written in first person from Anne’s point of view and I thought Anne was a well-developed character. I liked the way her life seemed flawless on the outside but that in fact, she was not as mature as she thought she was.

Jennie F.: I didn’t love Anne, personally. But then, I wasn’t entirely crazy about Elle in Dirty, either. My favorite Hart heroine is Sadie from Broken. I think Hart writes heroines who are flawed in interesting ways, but maybe in ways that make them less sympathetic to me.

Anne’s lack of direction made her less relatable to me. Not that I’m a real go-getter, but she was what, around 30? She didn’t have a job, didn’t seem to have much in the way of plans for getting a job. I wondered what she did with her days (before all the hot sex with Alex). Maybe I was jealous of her!

Janine: I haven’t had a problem sympathizing with any of these heroines, actually. I had Anne pegged as a little younger; in her late twenties perhaps? Her parents were having their thirtieth anniversary, so I don’t think she was thirty yet. More specificity about the characters’ ages and career situations would have been good, I think.

Jennie F.: I do agree that there was an interesting dichotomy between the superficial trappings of Anne’s life and what was going on inside her. But I’m not sure that dichotomy was resolved to my satisfaction at the end of the book.

Janine: Yes, I see your point, and yet, there was realism to the resolution in that it fit Anne’s character. I liked the fact that the attraction between the three main characters had an impact on Anne and James’s marriage (I’m trying not to give it away) and was not simply there to titillate the reader.

Jennie F.: Yes, I agree with this. It was really an emotional attachment between the three characters, not just a sexual one, which in many ways is why it ends up becoming a source of conflict.

Janine: Exactly. And that’s also what makes it interesting. Especially since two of them are married, and yet, no one can be called a cheater in a threesome.

Jennie F.: I wasn’t sure how I felt about James’ setting Anne up for the affair with Alex. It did feel a little sleazy to me. If James had been better developed as a character, it might not have bothered me. Not that it bothered me excessively, but it was one more thing that made James a little less appealing.

Janine: I didn’t feel that way at all. It was actually one of the things that made James’s character interesting to me, especially since I wasn’t sure at first if his motivation for that was competitiveness with Alex, attraction to Alex, the desire to see all Anne’s needs and desires fulfilled, or fear that if he didn’t suggest it, an affair between Anne and Alex might still happen.

I felt that Hart did a good job with Alex’s character. He was a bit mysterious but that was as it should be, since there was so much Anne didn’t know about him. For me, Hart succeeded in making Alex edgy, appealing and human, not an easy feat.

Jennie F.: Alex was appealing, perhaps too much so; he and Anne seemed to understand each other in a way that Anne didn’t share with James. It left the triangle a little unbalanced.

Janine: I didn’t feel that he was too appealing, though I agree that the triangle was a little unbalanced. I think it could have been more balanced had James’s character been developed better.

Jennie F.: Maybe it was because Alex was more of a traditional romance hero – bad-boy, sexually experienced and adventurous, successful in everything he does despite coming from a disadvantaged background. It made James fade into the woodwork a little.

Janine: While I liked James well enough, I agree he was neither as interesting nor as appealing as Alex. But what was a bigger problem for me was that I felt that there was too much I didn’t know about him. Since Anne is the narrator and I have the impression that she and James have been married for a few years, I felt that Anne should have known him more thoroughly and been better able to familiarize us readers with her husband.

Jennie F.: Yes, that was a lot of my problem with the book as well. The presence of Alex, and the dynamic between Alex and James, made James less appealing, perhaps even a bit less manly, in my eyes. He seemed weak when measured against Alex’s vibrant energy.

And while Alex and Anne shared the bond of troubled childhoods, James’ seemingly charmed existence made him feel flat. It did have the effect of making it seem like Anne didn’t really know him, in spite of their years of marriage. She seemed to idealize him. Not in a worshipful way, but as if she only saw the surface of his happy-go-lucky persona. I ultimately wondered if Anne was with James for the right reasons.

Janine: I wouldn’t use the words flat or weak to describe James, but he had not been tested by life the way Alex had, and so in some ways he felt more like an unproven quantity.

I also felt, though, that I didn’t hear as much as I wanted to about James, didn’t have enough of a sense of his hopes, his dreams, his disappointments in life — in sum, what made him tick. And since the narrator was his wife, a woman who had been married to him and should know these things, it felt like a glaring lack to me not to have more of these things communicated in the book.

In many ways I felt that James had the potential to be the book’s most interesting male character, because Alex was much closer to the typical romance hero character, and James was more unusual. I wanted Hart to really plumb his depths to a greater degree than she did, but I still enjoyed reading about him.

Your comments on James and Anne are very interesting to me, because I see that where I had put down the feeling I had that Anne didn’t know James well enough to Hart’s choice to go into the subplots about the family members rather than develop James’s character more deeply, you put it down to a deliberate choice on the author’s part to show that Anne chose not to see beneath James’s surface.

Jennie F.: Yes, and it makes me wonder if Anne just didn’t understand James very well, or if perhaps there just wasn’t that much to understand – he wasn’t that deep. Take, for instance, the situation with his mother – James’s mother was really rather a nasty character, to Anne and, it is later revealed, to Alex as well. And yet her ugliness apparently was never turned on James, nor did it rub off on him. It seems to have no effect on his life, his familial relationships or his worldview, until he does finally tell his mother off on Anne’s behalf.

I was left feeling frustrated and didn’t know if I should blame the author for not giving James more depth, James himself for being shallow, or Anne for not seeing beyond James’s facade. Though it is a good sign, incidentally, when I’m willing to blame the characters rather than the author for their shortcomings; it means that they did come alive for me, at least to some degree.

Janine: That’s a good point. Regardless of the other issues I had, all three main characters came alive for me as well in this book.

As I’ve alluded to, there were times when I felt that Hart took on too much material in this book, with the numerous subplots about Anne’s family members. These characters reflected aspects of Anne’s life, but I think I would have preferred fewer pages devoted to them and more to exploring the triangle of James, Anne and Alex.

Jennie F.: This didn’t bother me as much, though I also didn’t find any of these other storylines hugely compelling. The resolution of the older sister’s problems felt particularly pat to me.

Janine: Yes, I agree on both counts. These storylines weren’t compelling in and of themselves (though I liked the way one of them connected to Broken) and were mostly interesting in what they revealed about Anne.

It’s not that I felt they were without value, but more that I felt that the emotional engine of the book was in the triangle between Alex, James and Anne, and that I wanted to know more about each of the men and their relationship with one another, as well as with Anne. The book was long enough that I think if one of the subplots had been dropped, there would have been room to develop the triangle more equally, and then it could have been a fantastic read.

Jennie F.: Yes, I agree. Since I didn’t find them that compelling, I think the book could’ve lost at least one of them easily.

Janine: The last scene of the book made me feel that the author, like her heroine, wanted to have her cake and eat it too. The recipe of sexual fantasy and gritty reality that Hart has been so exceptional at blending in her two previous books for Harlequin Spice, Dirty and Broken, felt like it wasn’t gelling quite as well here as it has in the past.

Jennie F.: Yes, I totally agree. Perhaps because in the other two books, the heroine’s emotional growth was spurred by her relationship to the heroes of those books. Whereas here…I suppose that was the intent, but at times it felt like two separate stories occurring side-by-side. While the heroine came to peace with her issues, to a degree, I’m afraid that I felt that in some respects she was “settling” for her life as it was rather than really resolving things and moving forward. Which is undoubtedly more realistic, but just as undoubtedly less romantic, at least to me.

Janine: I felt somewhat as you did, but it wasn’t a strong feeling for me. I feel that Anne would have lost something and gained something no matter what she’d done at the end of the book. The last scene actually seemed a bit unrealistic to me, and I would argue that a more realistic choice might have been more romantic as well. Ultimately, though the book wasn’t as romantic as Dirty and Broken, it did not seem unromantic to me, either. I was okay with it, in the romance department.

Jennie F.: Hmm. Maybe it just comes down to my expectations as a romance reader. I think I would’ve liked it best if it had ended with the ménage still in place. I felt like Anne lost something when Alex left, and that the three-way relationship gave each of them something that they needed. That did make it bittersweet for me.

Janine: Well, I just can’t see the ménage continuing in Hart’s suburbia with no problems, but maybe I’ve watched too much of HBO’s “Big Love,” LOL.

I still recommend Tempted though, because even when she’s not in top form, Hart keeps me interested, and because her view of contemporary America feels so much more real to me than what I see in many contemporary romances. And also because, if I haven’t mentioned it before, some of the sex in this book was quite hot.

Overall, though Tempted isn’t her best work, I wasn’t sorry I spent $13.95 on it, either. I will definitely read Hart’s next book, too, since I’m very eager to see what she will write about next.

Jennie: I fully intend to keep reading her, for the reasons you mention. Romances deal with sex and erotica deals with sex, but often neither does so in a particularly honest or realistic manner. Hart is different in that respect – I do feel that her take on sex and relationships is less fantasy-based (which again, *can* mean less romantic, though I don’t think it has to). I would not warn anyone off Tempted, but would suggest that if you haven’t read Hart before, you start with Dirty or Broken; both are superior books IMO.

Janine: I agree completely (Isn’t it funny how we have a way of doing that?). What grade do you give Tempted, Jennie?

Jennie: I would give it a C+

Janine: I think I liked it a bit better than you did. For me, it’s a B-.

This book can be purchased in trade paperback or ebook format.

Janine Ballard loves well-paced, character driven novels in historical romance, fantasy, YA, and the occasional outlier genre. Recent examples include novels by Katherine Addison, Meljean Brook, Kristin Cashore, Cecilia Grant, Rachel Hartman, Ann Leckie, Jeannie Lin, Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Miranda Neville, and Nalini Singh. Janine also writes fiction. Her critique partners are Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran and Bettie Sharpe. Her erotic short story, “Kiss of Life,” appears in the Berkley anthology AGONY/ECSTASY under the pen name Lily Daniels. You can email Janine at janineballard at gmail dot com or find her on Twitter @janine_ballard.

46 Comments

  1. Meriam
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 06:40:58

    Oh, I’m torn! And Tempted!

    Spoilers below!

    I really enjoyed Dirty, but I’m not sure about this. I’ve never really fancied threesomes, and maybe I’m more of a traditionalist than I thought, because the ending doesn’t sound to my taste. Just from what you say, I’d rather Alex stuck around.

    Is there any way I can put this in spoiler tags?

    As for the cover, pretty though it might be, there’s no fracking way I’d read it in public.

  2. Janine
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 09:10:54

    Meriam, I don’t think spoiler tags will work in our comment section. You can do something like this, though:

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    I was expecting all along that either Alex would leave, or Anne would break up with James. I’m not sure which ending I would have preferred. I actually think Anne and James staying together without Alex could have been a very strong ending, had James been developed a bit better as a character, and also, if it hadn’t been for the last scene, which I probably shouldn’t give away if there’s still a chance that you’ll read this book.

    It sounds like Jennie had a different opinion; hopefully she’ll tell us more about it when she gets here.

    Have you read Broken? I thought it was an excellent book.

  3. Lorelie
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 12:09:27

    Personally I loved this book. There’s a line about choosing to love vs. falling. . . wonderful.

  4. Lorelie
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 12:14:24

    Oh, I had to buy my husband quarterly shipments of half a dozen adult magazines when he was deployed. Completely and absoultely broke me of any embarassment when purchasing my books.

  5. Jennie F.
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 12:51:41

    Meriam, I also would recommend Broken highly. It’s my favorite of the Hart books I’ve read.

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    At one point I was thinking Anne might end with Alex, but as the book went along the story didn’t really develop that way. Anne cared about James all along; she loved him. It wasn’t like she pulled away from James and towards Alex, at least not exactly. Alex gave her something she craved, but I suppose it was not a foundation on which a real relationship is built. The thing is, in about 90% of romance novels I’ve read, it would be considered enough. Because a heroine strongly lusting after a man must mean she’s in love. Obviously, erotic romance is/should be/can be a little different (though I just read the world’s most generic erotic romance, and it went pretty much exactly like that – the hero made the heroine’s lady parts tingle, so it had to be love).

    I don’t know. I thrill at genre-bending and more realistic romances, but it’s sometimes a fine line for me. I also like the “romantic glamour” that Janine mentions. Too realistic can be a little deflating for me, emotionally. Though I don’t think I would’ve felt that way about the ending of Tempted if James had been more appealing to me.

  6. Janine
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 13:07:26

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    I think James was more appealing to me than he was to you, Jennie. Maybe I saw more potential in him? He was slightly immature, but so was Anne, so in that way, it made sense that they were together to begin with, and I could see them maturing together. The beginnings of that maturation was shown, but I would have liked to have seen more of it.

    I would also have enjoyed seeing Anne end up with Alex, and the two of them have to deal with the fallout from that, but it would have left James in the cold in some ways even more than Alex was left at the end of Tempted. Because Alex had only been a part of James and Anne’s marriage for a short time, and known Anne a short time, while James and Anne had been together for years.

    Of course, we haven’t even talked about the other possibilty have we? James and Alex going off into the sunset together, and leaving Anne on her own. But since it was Anne’s story and told through her eyes, I didn’t really think that would happen.

  7. Janine
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 13:10:38

    You know Lorelie, that line about choosing vs. falling — I thought it was an interesting thing for Anne to think, but I found myself disagreeing with it when I read it. Maybe there’s a gray area somewhere between falling and choosing. I don’t think anybody ever completely chooses; I think love is always at least a little bit irrational — that’s part of what makes it love.

  8. Jennie F.
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 13:44:25

    I think the fact that Tempted is told from Anne’s POV, and that she is already married to James at the beginning of the book both contributed to my sense of, I guess, alienation from James. I really wish he had been written more strongly.

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    Of course, we haven't even talked about the other possibilty have we? James and Alex going off into the sunset together, and leaving Anne on her own. But since it was Anne's story and told through her eyes, I didn't really think that would happen.

    Ha – I hadn’t even thought of that! But it reminds me that the unresolved sexual tension never really did get resolved, at least that we saw. There was the last threesome scene, but unless I’m forgetting something, or missed something, I don’t think that really settled what was between the two men.

    There are kind of a lot of loose threads in Tempted, which depending on how it’s handled can be the sort of realism that I like. In this book things felt somewhat unsettled to me at the end.

  9. Lorelie
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 14:21:47

    Obviously, erotic romance is/should be/can be a little different . . . I don't know. I thrill at genre-bending and more realistic romances, but it's sometimes a fine line for me.

    Maybe this is part of our difference on this book – I don’t think of it as “erotic romance”. Halfway through Hart’s Dirty, I had to set it down for a day and figure out what in the world this book was. I eventually came to a personal conclusion that it wasn’t a romance. It’s romantic and erotic for sure but ultimately the sum is different than the parts. What exactly that sum is, I’m still not positive. But it sure ain’t a romance. I went into Tempted with the same perspective, so I didn’t try to figure out who she would end up with.

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    (Though really I’m starting to think this whole thread should have “SPOILERS” slapped across it. It’s really hard to talk about this book w/out dipping into revealing details. . . Which might be one of its charms for me. How often do you read something that can’t be effectively summed up in 25 words?)

    I don't think anybody ever completely chooses; I think love is always at least a little bit irrational -’ that's part of what makes it love.

    This is absolutely a personal opinion but I tend to believe there’s maybe one or two people in the world with whom a person will fall quickly, insanely in love. You don’t really even need to know much about this person and in fact can be such polar opposites that it wouldn’t work out in this life or the next. But then most people will meet about half a dozen or so people with whom you fall a little bit in love. From there, you (er, I maybe) can choose to nurture and grow that love and have a good life with them. I saw Alex as being the first type for Anne and James was the second. Each appealing in their own way. :::shrug:::

  10. rose
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 14:23:06

    I haven’t read this book yet, but something caught my attention in your review Jennie F.
    I don’t care how “fussy and pedantic” it is, “typographical and grammatical errors” are annoying. There are “various low-level functionaries” not doing their jobs, not to mention editors. I wonder sometimes, if anybody is proofreading books anymore.
    The trouble with spellcheck, it will correct spelling, but doesn’t do anything about conjugation, and words in the wrong place.
    I find myself making corrections as I read, not that I am perfect, but I think one expects a higher standard from a book. There is also the fact that I don’t have minions checking my stuff. That’s my story, and I am sticking to it.
    That poster was an absolute disgrace.

  11. Janine
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 14:42:59

    Rose — Just to clarify, Jennie wasn’t talking about typographical or grammatical errors in this book, but rather on a movie theater marquee that she saw.

    I don’t recall any errors of that nature in Tempted.

  12. Meriam
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 15:01:15

    Thanks Janine and Jennie.

    So, basically, I have to buy Broken.
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    Still not convinced about Tempted, but what you said about being conditioned, as a romance reader, to expect the lust = love equation (and being less sympathetic to James as she’s already married to him) makes sense. I just don’t know if I can un-condition myself sufficiently to enjoy the book. It doesn’t help that James is apparently the least developed of the three.

    Thus far, I’ve enjoyed Megan Hart because, as you say, she creates realistic, unusual (at least in the genre) characters with that all important sheen of ‘romantic glamour’ (I love this term and will appropriate it). The only other writer who strikes a similar chord for me is Bonnie Dee.

    I’m really enjoying this discussion!

  13. Janine
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 15:04:57

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    Ha – I hadn't even thought of that! But it reminds me that the unresolved sexual tension never really did get resolved, at least that we saw. There was the last threesome scene, but unless I'm forgetting something, or missed something, I don't think that really settled what was between the two men.

    I agree the tension wasn’t resolved, but I felt that we got some closure on that because we found out what was going on there. Alex was admittedly bisexual, and James was either straight or a closeted bisexual (I myself would say the latter). James wasn’t going to get it on with Alex, because he wasn’t willing to admit openly to having a sexual attraction for him. At least not when he wasn’t drunk.

    There are kind of a lot of loose threads in Tempted, which depending on how it's handled can be the sort of realism that I like. In this book things felt somewhat unsettled to me at the end.

    I felt that the last scene was there to give some closure, but it felt a bit contrived to me because:

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    I didn’t feel it was in character for James to give Anne permission to sleep with Alex, just the two of them, as part of saying goodbye, when Anne had gone off her birth control shot.

  14. Jennie F.
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 15:10:22

    This is absolutely a personal opinion but I tend to believe there's maybe one or two people in the world with whom a person will fall quickly, insanely in love. You don't really even need to know much about this person and in fact can be such polar opposites that it wouldn't work out in this life or the next. But then most people will meet about half a dozen or so people with whom you fall a little bit in love. From there, you (er, I maybe) can choose to nurture and grow that love and have a good life with them.

    I don’t believe in “love at first sight” so I tend to label this sort of thing as intense attraction. In 99 out of 100 cases, the intense attraction fades or the two people find that they are totally incompatible in other ways. In maybe one case, they stay together for 80 years and call it “love at first sight”. But I don’t think you can love someone without knowing them.

    I don't care how “fussy and pedantic” it is, “typographical and grammatical errors” are annoying. There are “various low-level functionaries” not doing their jobs, not to mention editors. I wonder sometimes, if anybody is proofreading books anymore.

    I know what you mean. In the most Generic Erotic Romance in the World that I just finished, I counted three errors in 262 pages – meaning there were probably more that slipped past me. Sometimes you feel like the people putting out the product just don’t care.

  15. Jennie F.
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 15:16:26

    Meriam, I’ve never read Bonnie Dee. I shall have to check her out.

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    I didn't feel it was in character for James to give Anne permission to sleep with Alex, just the two of them, as part of saying goodbye, when Anne had gone off her birth control shot.

    Did he give her permission? I wasn’t clear on whether James knew or not that Anne had gone to Alex in the hotel. Maybe I missed something? I don’t have the book anymore, so I can’t check.

    I’m not sure if I’d call James bisexual – I think maybe he was bisexual for Alex, if that makes any sense. I do subscribe to the continuum theory of sexuality, and James’ sexual interest in Alex obviously means that he wouldn’t qualify as 100% heterosexual, but I felt that both his attraction and his interest in the threesome were very specific to Alex – that he would not have considered sharing Anne with another man. I don’t know why I think that, but I do. Maybe because from Anne’s POV, James was so utterly different around Alex than he normally was.

  16. Janine
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 15:17:58

    Maybe this is part of our difference on this book – I don't think of it as “erotic romance”.

    I agree with you, Lorelie. I didn’t consider Tempted a romance either. Although as I said in my review of Dirty, that book was a romance to me.

    Halfway through Hart's Dirty, I had to set it down for a day and figure out what in the world this book was. I eventually came to a personal conclusion that it wasn't a romance. It's romantic and erotic for sure but ultimately the sum is different than the parts. What exactly that sum is, I'm still not positive. But it sure ain't a romance. I went into Tempted with the same perspective, so I didn't try to figure out who she would end up with.

    I think we all have different definitions of what “romance” means. For me, Dirty was a romance and the kind I want to see more of. Broken started edging into another category. Tempted, though, I didn’t see as a romance, maybe because it’s over fifty pages into the book before Alex shows up, and in the meantime, there’s a fair amount of focus on Anne’s family.

    (Though really I'm starting to think this whole thread should have “SPOILERS” slapped across it. It's really hard to talk about this book w/out dipping into revealing details. . . Which might be one of its charms for me. How often do you read something that can't be effectively summed up in 25 words?)

    That’s an excellent point and very much in the book’s favor. Interesting comments on James and Alex.

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    This is absolutely a personal opinion but I tend to believe there's maybe one or two people in the world with whom a person will fall quickly, insanely in love. You don't really even need to know much about this person and in fact can be such polar opposites that it wouldn't work out in this life or the next. But then most people will meet about half a dozen or so people with whom you fall a little bit in love. From there, you (er, I maybe) can choose to nurture and grow that love and have a good life with them. I saw Alex as being the first type for Anne and James was the second. Each appealing in their own way. :::shrug:::

    But do you think that, faced with both types of men at the same time, it is possible to choose the “little bit in love” with over the “insanely in love” with and be happy? I am skeptical of that…

  17. Meriam
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 15:31:59

    Meriam, I've never read Bonnie Dee. I shall have to check her out.

    Finding Home is good, if you don’t think too hard about the hero’s age. Although – please don’t take my word for it! What I like about BD is the way she can create very recognizable characters, but without losing that romantic element.

    Re: Dirty – I definitely thought it was a romance, albeit a very unusual (refreshingly unusual) one. What has kept me away from Broken and Tempted is the sense that they are less ‘romantic.’ I suspect I’m more old-fashioned about these things than I like to think.

  18. Janine
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 15:42:02

    So, basically, I have to buy Broken.

    Yes you do! Without a doubt, it was one of the best and most interesting reads of 2007 for me. I reviewed it here.

    Thus far, I've enjoyed Megan Hart because, as you say, she creates realistic, unusual (at least in the genre) characters with that all important sheen of ‘romantic glamour' (I love this term and will appropriate it). The only other writer who strikes a similar chord for me is Bonnie Dee.

    I haven’t read Bonnie Dee — I may just have to try her. When I reviewed Dirty, one of our readers, Barbara B., said there was a similar emotional intensity to some historical romances, like Kinsale’s and Ivory’s. If you haven’t tried these authors yet, I highly recommend them.

  19. Janine
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 15:56:05

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    Did he give her permission? I wasn't clear on whether James knew or not that Anne had gone to Alex in the hotel. Maybe I missed something? I don't have the book anymore, so I can't check.

    On p.418, soon after Anne arrives at the hotel, there’s this exchange where Alex asks her if James knows she’s there and she says yes. Alex is surprised to hear it and says “Fuck.” To which Anne replies “Exactly.”

    I'm not sure if I'd call James bisexual – I think maybe he was bisexual for Alex, if that makes any sense. I do subscribe to the continuum theory of sexuality, and James' sexual interest in Alex obviously means that he wouldn't qualify as 100% heterosexual, but I felt that both his attraction and his interest in the threesome were very specific to Alex – that he would not have considered sharing Anne with another man. I don't know why I think that, but I do. Maybe because from Anne's POV, James was so utterly different around Alex than he normally was.

    I agree with your assessment, actually. But if there’s only one person one would be bisexual for, then that has to be a pretty intense attraction, don’t you think?

    I guess it’s possible that James didn’t speak to Alex for all those years because Alex rejected him sexually, but I tend to think it was at least partly because James wanted to forget that kiss and deny that it had happened. I may be reading things into the book that aren’t there, but I felt that Alex was correct that a sexual relationship between them would not have ended up happily. And that in turn makes me feel that James was somewhat in denial about his sexuality, or at least, his sexuality where Alex was concerned. Which is why I used the term “closeted bisexual,” though maybe that wasn’t really an accurate description.

  20. Janine
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 16:00:26

    Re: Dirty – I definitely thought it was a romance, albeit a very unusual (refreshingly unusual) one. What has kept me away from Broken and Tempted is the sense that they are less ‘romantic.' I suspect I'm more old-fashioned about these things than I like to think.

    I found Broken quite romantic in its way. I don’t think you have much to lose by trying it, Meriam. I would be really interested to hear your thoughts on it, too.

  21. Meriam
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 16:06:22

    I should have clarified that I was talking about contemporary erotic romances when I grouped Bonnie Dee with Megan Hart.

    In terms of historicals, nothing beats the Holy Trinity – Gaffney, Kinsale, Ivory. And how sad that none of them are writing any at the moment (What happened to Kinsale’s The Lucky One?)

    Off to read your review of Broken…

  22. Lorelie
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 16:08:08

    But do you think that, faced with both types of men at the same time, it is possible to choose the “little bit in love” with over the “insanely in love” with and be happy? I am skeptical of that…

    Ok, I guess I need to clarify – I think a person can start out a little bit in love and with that nurturing and work it turns into something deeper and stronger. In which case yes, it would be perfectly possible to turn away from the “insanely in love” person and still be happy.

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    I didn't feel it was in character for James to give Anne permission to sleep with Alex, just the two of them, as part of saying goodbye, when Anne had gone off her birth control shot.

    and

    Did he give her permission? I wasn't clear on whether James knew or not that Anne had gone to Alex in the hotel. Maybe I missed something? I don't have the book anymore, so I can't check.

    And tra-la a third opinion: I figured James knew but didn’t exactly give permission. And Anne’s not needing permission to do something that important to her as being growth for her (in terms of always being the people pleaser, the “good” daughter).

  23. Jennie F.
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 16:49:18

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    And tra-la a third opinion: I figured James knew but didn't exactly give permission. And Anne's not needing permission to do something that important to her as being growth for her (in terms of always being the people pleaser, the “good” daughter).

    On reflection, that is probably closer to how I viewed it. I didn’t think it was a secret from James, more a decision that Anne felt she had the right to make on her own.

  24. Janine
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 16:50:27

    Wow, Meriam. I just went to your blog, and we have eerily similar tastes in books. Which is something I can only say about a handful of people — Jennie here, and two of my friends who also happen to be authors with first books coming out this spring, Sherry Thomas and Meredith Duran. So I can only say: keep those reviews on your blog coming! Reviewers need reviews, too.

  25. Janine
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 16:54:45

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    On reflection, that is probably closer to how I viewed it. I didn't think it was a secret from James, more a decision that Anne felt she had the right to make on her own.

    Lorelie and Jennie — You’re very likely right. But whether James agreed to it or whether he just knew about it, I don’t think it’s really in keeping with his character that he would be okay with it (esp. with Anne off her birth control), do you?

    And if he’s not okay with it, what does that bode for Anne and James’ marriage, that Anne would choose to stay with James after the menage broke up, but also to sleep with Alex after making that decision?

  26. Jennie F.
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 17:33:03

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    Lorelie and Jennie -’ You're very likely right. But whether James agreed to it or whether he just knew about it, I don't think it's really in keeping with his character that he would be okay with it (esp. with Anne off her birth control), do you?

    No, when you throw in the birth control issue, it doesn’t really make sense.

    And if he's not okay with it, what does that bode for Anne and James' marriage, that Anne would choose to stay with James after the menage broke up, but also to sleep with Alex after making that decision?

    Well, I’m not sure that I had really high hopes for Anne and James’ marriage anyway – that was part of my problem. As I’ve said, I don’t mind if things aren’t wrapped up super-neatly – I don’t need a Balogh-style epilogue with kids running around. Particularly in books where the h/h have only known each other a short time and/or have had heavy conflict, I prefer the realism of “we’re happy right now” to a straight HEA.

    The problem with Tempted – and it may be that I’m just getting entrenched in my opinion because I love to argue – but the problem was that the things felt so unresolved, and the HEA-for-now so tenuous, that it just wasn’t satisfying. But it might be more okay if I try to reset my mind to not view it as a romance.

  27. Janine
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 18:05:05

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    No, when you throw in the birth control issue, it doesn't really make sense.

    That was how I felt too. I felt that it was there to satisfy something that had been missing for Anne, and for us readers, because we never got to see actual intercourse take place between Anne and Alex. But it didn’t seem to me to make sense for James to be okay with it, or for Anne to recommit to her marriage and then do something like that if James wasn’t okay with it. Which is why I ended up feeling that it was a bit contrived — there for us readers more than for the characters.

    Well, I'm not sure that I had really high hopes for Anne and James' marriage anyway – that was part of my problem.

    I think that I may have had a bit more hope for it than you did.

    As I've said, I don't mind if things aren't wrapped up super-neatly – I don't need a Balogh-style epilogue with kids running around. Particularly in books where the h/h have only known each other a short time and/or have had heavy conflict, I prefer the realism of “we're happy right now” to a straight HEA.

    Me too.

    The problem with Tempted – and it may be that I'm just getting entrenched in my opinion because I love to argue – but the problem was that the things felt so unresolved, and the HEA-for-now so tenuous, that it just wasn't satisfying. But it might be more okay if I try to reset my mind to not view it as a romance.

    Yeah, you need to press that re-set button, Jennie. :) This book didn’t feel like a romance to me, though it had some romantic moments. I would have actually been more satisfied if the ending had been different; if either Anne never got to sleep with Alex, or if she chose to leave James. Those endings would have been darker, I think, and also more realistic, but I would have found either of them more romantic than the having-the-cake-and-eating-it-too note that the book ended on.

    I want to reiterate that Megan Hart is such a gutsy, unconventional author, and that I felt that even with its flaws, Tempted was worth the $13.95 I spent on it, and will defnitely read her next book, too.

  28. Meriam
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 19:05:23

    Thanks, Janine. That’s particularly nice to hear because I really enjoy your reviews. Reviews, btw, are really hard work. I had no idea. Also, you have cool friends.

    Incidentally, Megan Hart will be hosting a discussion on Tempted in a few days.

  29. Lorelie
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 20:04:20

    No, when you throw in the birth control issue, it doesn't really make sense.

    Huh. I didn’t even think of that as an issue, since it usually takes months to regain your fertility after being on DepoPrevara for an extended period like Anne was.

  30. Janine
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 22:05:12

    Thanks Meriam. It’s true, reviews are hard work, but I always find the comment threads make them really rewarding. And yeah, I’m very grateful for my friends, including all my fellow bloggers here. And for the books that bring us together, and the authors who write those books. Gosh, this is starting to sound like my Thanksgiving post from last year!

  31. Janine
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 22:09:16

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    Huh. I didn't even think of that as an issue, since it usually takes months to regain your fertility after being on DepoPrevara for an extended period like Anne was.

    Lorelie, I didn’t know this, but I think I would have seen it as an issue even if I had, because there’s a point in the book when Anne goes to the doctor, and James mistakenly thinks she didn’t take the shot, and therefore, as we find out much later in the book (even though months don’t go by), he doesn’t want her to have actual intercourse with Alex, though everything else is allowed.

  32. Anyone
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 23:08:28

    Huh. I didn't even think of that as an issue, since it usually takes months to regain your fertility after being on DepoPrevara for an extended period like Anne was.

    The key word here is Usually. I can speak from experience and say that was never the case with me and both times I had been on it for years.

  33. rose
    Feb 01, 2008 @ 21:02:46

    Janine, I understood that Jennie was speaking in general terms, and so was I, as I did say right away that I hadn’t read this particular book. I just wondered how a poster could be put out there without anybody noticing the mistake, and it made me think of books in general.

  34. Janine
    Feb 01, 2008 @ 21:56:13

    Anyone — I’m sorry to hear that happened to you.

    Rose — Thanks for explaining. Typographical and grammatical errors in books annoy me too, but I just wanted to make clear to our readers that Jennie and I didn’t recall encountering them in Tempted, and weren’t criticizing the book for that.

  35. rose
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 12:57:25

    I found myself intrigued by your review, so I decided to try erotic romance. I had never read one before, mostly because I was turned off by the covers, not because I was embarrased to buy one, but because they just looked so artficial, for lack of a better word.
    Anyway I decided to head to my second hand book store, I didn’t want to invest in a new release until I knew if it was going to work for me. What I came upon was Kathleen Dante’s Entangled and Enticed. I am reading Entangled right now, and I don’t know if I will be able to finish it. When I started reading, I immediately had problems with the cover. The woman in the book is described as having long curly hair to her butt, whereas the cover depicts a woman with really short hair. This is a bit jarring as the guy seems to be very taken with her hair.
    The book seems to be set in onother world, but I can’t figure out what exactly this world is, and I am more than halfway through the book.
    Are erotic romances primarily set in other worlds? I can’t get past the euphimisms, weeping portals, channels, passages and staffs to mention a few. I am reminded of Barbara Cartland(shudder), whom I read in my very early teens.
    There is a bit of a mystery in the book, which has been delt with in about ten pages of the almost 200 pages I have read so far. The rest is one sex scene after onother. Is that the definition of erotic romance, I find myself thinking that even rabbits could’t do it that much, too much of a good thing.
    I know this book came out in 2006, but I was wondering if there is anybody out there with an opinion. I checked the archives, but there was nothing. I would’t mind trying something with a little more balance, so maybe I will try Megan Hart’s “Tempted”, it sounds like It might have a little more going on than one giant sex scene.

  36. Janine
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 13:37:13

    Rose, I’m glad the review intrigued you! Erotic romance is a diverse subgenre and just as in the rest of the romance genre, there are some good books and some not-so-good books,

    I have never read Kathleen Dante’s books so I can’t comment on their quality either way, but Megan Hart’s books don’t generally include euphemisms like the ones you describe. She tends to use very blunt language and four letter words instead.

    I’m not sure if by “set in other worlds” you are referring to paranormals, urban fantasies or other kinds of fantasy romances. But no, some erotic romances are very much set in the real world and I would include Megan Hart’s books among them.

    As with any genre or subgenre, it can take a while to discover the books and authors that really appeal to your tastes. Besides Megan Hart, another author of erotic romance I really enjoy is Pam Rosenthal, who writes erotic romances set in the Regency era.

    I highly recommend Rosenthal’s novella “A House East of Regent Street” which can be found in an anthology of erotic romance called Strangers in the Night. And if you don’t mind something challenging, I thought that her most recent novel, The Slightest Provocation, was one of the most unique and risk-taking books I’ve ever encountered in the romance genre.

    Hart’s two novels, Dirty and Broken, are also excellent, even more so than Tempted in my opinion. It’s debatable whether Hart is really an author of erotic romance — her books are labeled as erotic novels rather than romance, but I think she’s worth reading regarding of what you call her books.

    You can find reviews of some of the books I just mentioned at the links below:

    Janine’s A review of Rosenthal’s The Slightest Provocation

    Janine’s A- review of Hart’s Dirty

    Janine’s A- review of Hart’s Broken

    Mrs. Giggles’ most excellent review of Strangers in the Night

  37. rose
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 17:15:40

    Thanks Janine, I am going to try your recommendations.

  38. denise
    Feb 08, 2008 @ 00:10:19

    SPOILERS INCLUDED:

    I think I am definitely in the minority here with my thoughts on this book. By the way, I loved the review.

    This was my first Megan Hart book — I listened to it in the car on the way to work and had to constantly turn it off because it was so emotional for me. Overall I think Megan Hart is an excellent author and she really stirred things up for me with this book.

    Now for the book: Anne is the most selfish character I have ever encountered in a book. Alex was predictable (a rogue, rascal or whatever you want to call him). James was a good guy who was obviously in love with his wife (and his best friend) and desperate not to lose his wife or his friend so he encouraged this relationship. Anne never once took responsibility for this affair (and I do think it was an affair once they started having sex without James morning, noon and night) and made it ok in her mind by blaming it all on James.

    She blamed James for “setting it up” but it would have happened whether he set it up or not. Anne and Alex were on the collision course to an affair the moment they set eyes on each other. She took after her father and her mother both. Her dad would never take responsibility for his drunk actions and her mother had an affair and left the man even though she was in love with him because she thought her place was at home. Her father was desperately in love with his wife — just as James is with Anne. I think her mom telling her the history of her affair had a lot to do with Anne’s decision to stay. If I was James I would have told Anne she was no longer welcome in his home when she said “she didn’t think so” to his question to her of would she rather be with Alex.

    When Anne told Alex that James knew she was there at the hotel, I believe she was lying — she lied about being off birth control and other things so why start telling the truth now. When Anne makes a comment to the effect that because Alex wasn’t saying anything to her, did it mean nothing to him? Did she possibly ruin her marriage over this when it meant nothing to him? That made me think that James didn’t know. I think she wanted to get pregnant with Alex’s kid to keep a part of him always with her.

    I would have preferred it for Anne and Alex to go off together. They obviously had something passionate going that probably would not have lasted long but the way she could not let Alex go was doing a disservice to James and her marriage(and I doubt once she had actual sex with him — other than just oral, hands, etc.– she would be able to let him go as she thought she would). She was making them both miserable and blamed James for everything. I think James deserved someone better. Alex and Anne would have been together if not for the fact that they both loved James and didn’t want to hurt him. Couldn’t they see that Anne’s moping and her and Alex’s obvious love for each other hurt him more? Anne and Alex had something with each other that neither of them had with James — they understood each other and burned for each other.

    I’m not sure I can handle another book like this — although I do wish Megan Hart would write a sequel as there were too many questions left unsaid.

    Do either Alex or Anne change their mind and go after each other?
    Does Anne get pregnant? If so, by who?
    Does Anne ever truly “forgive” James and let Alex go?

    Ok, now I just have to remember it was just a book and Anne, James and Alex’s actions have no effect on my life — Megan Hart is a really good writer because this book will stay with me for a while.

  39. Janine
    Feb 08, 2008 @ 17:51:27

    Rose — I hope you enjoy these books.

    Denise — What an interesting take on the book. I saw Anne and her story somewhat differently, and I think the differences in how we read it illustrate how each reader brings her own imagination to a book.

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    She blamed James for “setting it up” but it would have happened whether he set it up or not. Anne and Alex were on the collision course to an affair the moment they set eyes on each other.

    I’m not certain this is the case. It’s true that there was an intense attraction between Anne and Alex as soon as they met, but I’m not convinced anything would have happened if James hadn’t suggested the threesome. I don’t know if Anne would have done it or not, given the opportunity, and I’m pretty sure Alex would not have. Or else why would he have asked, in that last scene, if James knew Anne was there?

    When Anne told Alex that James knew she was there at the hotel, I believe she was lying -’ she lied about being off birth control and other things so why start telling the truth now.

    This is possible — I wouldn’t rule it out as being out of character for Anne — but I felt that she and James had started a process of communicating more honestly and that Anne valued that, so it wasn’t my interpretation when I read the scene.

    When Anne makes a comment to the effect that because Alex wasn't saying anything to her, did it mean nothing to him? Did she possibly ruin her marriage over this when it meant nothing to him? That made me think that James didn't know.

    I think you are referring to this section of the book:

    “Goodbye, Alex,” I said at last. “I hope you’ll be happy.”

    He didn’t answer. I wanted him to say goodbye. Say something. But he was a rugged rascal even at the end. He gave me a half nod and a half smile and left me wondering if I had risked everything for a few hours of useless lust. If that’s all it had ever been. If I’d made a mistake in going there. [p.425]

    (Then of course, Alex does say something).

    You know, I didn’t pay much attention to this line before but rereading it makes me think that James actually did know that she was going to sleep with Alex, but was unhappy about it.

    I think she wanted to get pregnant with Alex's kid to keep a part of him always with her.

    That hadn’t really occurred to me before, but now that you say it, and I have reread the ending, I think it’s possible, though I’m not sure either way.

    I would have preferred it for Anne and Alex to go off together. They obviously had something passionate going that probably would not have lasted long but the way she could not let Alex go was doing a disservice to James and her marriage(and I doubt once she had actual sex with him -’ other than just oral, hands, etc.- she would be able to let him go as she thought she would). She was making them both miserable and blamed James for everything. I think James deserved someone better. Alex and Anne would have been together if not for the fact that they both loved James and didn't want to hurt him. Couldn't they see that Anne's moping and her and Alex's obvious love for each other hurt him more? Anne and Alex had something with each other that neither of them had with James -’ they understood each other and burned for each other.

    You know, I might agree with you if it weren’t for a factor that I think you are discounting — that there was also a powerful attraction between James and Alex. I wonder if maybe to some degree James let Alex sleep with his wife because he couldn’t bring himself to give himself to Alex more directly. Allowing those encounters to happen between Alex and Anne was the closest James could come to sleeping with Alex himself, something I do believe he wanted (at least subliminally) to do.

    Yeah, I think James was afraid there would be an affair if he didn’t agree to it, but I also think he was turned on by Alex’s presence in the house. Remember the scene (before the threesome started) in which James brings Anne to orgasm under the blanket while Alex is right there in the room with them? I thought that this was an indicator that Alex’s presence was a big turn on for James. And there were other indicators, too.

    I'm not sure I can handle another book like this -’ although I do wish Megan Hart would write a sequel as there were too many questions left unsaid.

    Dan and Elle, the couple from Hart’s Dirty, appeared in Broken, where there was a continuation of their story. And there were references to Joe from Broken in Tempted (he was the guy Anne’s sister Mary had her one night stand with — this is the first scene in Broken). So I think it’s possible that James, Anne or Alex will appear in one of Hart’s future books.

    Megan Hart is a really good writer because this book will stay with me for a while.

    She does write very powerful books. I would encourage you to read Dirty and Broken, since they are closer to romances (Dirty especially).

  40. Carl
    Feb 12, 2008 @ 22:43:00

    I am a male, and an audiobook listener (long commute) and wound up downloading Megan Hart's “Broken”, basically to check out the erotica (or in guyspeak, sex). I am now hooked on Hart's stories. I've also done “Dirty” and now “Tempted”. Each book I have liked better than the last; too bad the rest aren't on audiobook. I was always a big war story fan but in the last few years (can you say Faluhjah) my interest in that genre has waned with the void being filled by chicklit- go figure. Anyway, it is really interesting for “this guy” to see the world, and erotica/sex through a woman's eyes. I am a pretty horny fifty-something and these books have turned up the spark in my relationship with my wife of many years and has helped me be more attentive; which has been reciprocated.

    “Tempted”…emh… I have not been as emotionally moved, or maybe “unsettled” is a better word, by a story since seeing Diane Lane in “Unfaithful”. Common theme? I have a beautiful, youthful wife I love and I guess the thought of the loss of her to an Alex who makes her “clit twitch” terrifies me.

    This book takes you all over the place, very fast, with an intense, emotional story full of very complex relationships; a lot of ground covered and a lot of baggage- more baggage than JFK airport. All through the book you are waiting for the other shoe to drop and the truth to reveal itself and explain the characters motivations for being so reckless. At some points, the story and tension in the relationships are so compelling I wanted to skip through the proforma sex scenes to get to the train wreck you know is right around the corner. Maybe that’s what is attracting a guy to this story- the pending train wreck. I should add I don't get the ménage a tois thing- not me with two women and especially not another guy – yech.

    I found this site because after reading this story I really needed an outlet and Googled. Glad I found it.

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    Anyway, I think James and Alex are in love and in the beginning use Anne as a “vessel” to make their sexual connection that James can’t admit (not an original idea). Anne fell in lust with Alex to spite James. I am vexed as to why James would let an un-birth-controlled Anne do Alex or why Anne would want to. For me this is where a good story hits the brick wall. I would have preferred for Anne to have gotten to the hotel and gone into the room to find Alex with some random guy. It would have been closure and her and James could continue their lives. But still, it’s just fiction and fun. She wrote the book and it is what it is.

  41. Janine
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 16:21:56

    Hi Carl — it’s always neat to get a guy’s perspective.

    I have a beautiful, youthful wife I love and I guess the thought of the loss of her to an Alex who makes her “clit twitch” terrifies me.

    Well, if it’s any consolation it’s my personal opinion that if a marriage is on strong ground, that won’t happen. Usually something has to be wrong for an affair to develop, IMO (she says and ducks).

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    Anyway, I think James and Alex are in love and in the beginning use Anne as a “vessel” to make their sexual connection that James can’t admit (not an original idea).

    I actually haven’t seen this idea used in a book before, but then I don’t read many erotic novels that aren’t romances. I think your suggestion that James and Alex are in love is very interesting, and I agree that they use Anne as a “vessel” to some degree, although of course she wants the sex with them both to happen, too.

    Anne fell in lust with Alex to spite James.

    I really don’t think that’s the case; Anne just didn’t seem that angry with James to me.

    I am vexed as to why James would let an un-birth-controlled Anne do Alex or why Anne would want to. For me this is where a good story hits the brick wall. I would have preferred for Anne to have gotten to the hotel and gone into the room to find Alex with some random guy. It would have been closure and her and James could continue their lives.

    That would have destroyed the romantic aspect of the book for readers who enjoyed the attraction and emotions between Anne and Alex, and I think it would have been a downer of an ending for those readers. But I can see where to a reader who wanted Anne and James together more firmly, such an ending would have provided closure. I do think more closure would have been good, but I personally would have preferred for that to come from Anne making a choice between the two men, and then sticking with her choice, regardless of her feelings for the other.

  42. Marjolein
    Mar 12, 2009 @ 13:58:29

    Having just read the book I am very glad to have found this review! It’s cleared a few things up for me and put things into perspective.

    I would simply like to add, for anyone who reads this review and the ensuing comments, that Hart is currently busy writing Alex’s story. In other words, a loose-end tyer if I ever saw one! Hopefully this book will answer some of the questions we were all left with after Stranger.

  43. Janine
    Mar 13, 2009 @ 13:56:59

    Thanks Marjolein! I am happy to hear that Hart is writing a book about Alex.

  44. Roselyn
    Jul 26, 2009 @ 03:53:22

    Finished reading ‘Tempted’ and enjoyed it thoroughly. Anther book of MH’s that I could not put down. I felt for Anne and the lust she felt for Alex. James loved Alex and hoped at least they would kiss and touch. I wonder if that would answer a few of Anne’s questions or confused her more about her husband. I’m not sure what I felt at the end. I’m glad they had their time together but I feel there’s still some unresolved feelings between James and Alex and I wanted to know more. I actually like James in the sense that he wanted to please his wife and knew Alex would be perfect for this (even though i know he wanted to please himself as well). It was a little cunning but I guess he loved his wife and loved his bestfriend so it made sense to me that if you crave for someone you can’t help but try to get what your heart and mind desires. The three of them loved each other which is probably rare to find. I guess at the end I wanted the three of them to make a go of it, even knowing somehow and someday the threesome would come to an end.

    Next on my list is ‘Taking Care of Business’ which is sitting on my table, while waiting for my delivery of ‘Dirty’ and ‘Deeper’. Keep up the great work MH!

  45. April
    Dec 10, 2009 @ 06:06:54

    I’ve just discovered Megan Hart and am thoroughly impressed with her writing style. I expected some particularly titillating erotica when I started reading Hart, but was pleasantly surprised that she writes high-quality, realistic, emotional fiction.

    Although I didn’t like it as well as Dirty or Broken, I liked Tempted better than either of you. I would have given it a B+ or A-. I particularly related to the heroine for growing up with an alcoholic father, an upbringing that tends to shape a person’s adult reactions to almost everything.

    I loved Hart’s realistic handling of the subject matter. Too often these types of books introduce a third into the relationship without plumbing the emotional repercussions.

    I was very disappointed though by the overall resolution of this novel. One thing not mentioned in your conversational review is that James’ true feelings for Alex are not at all uprooted. There is clearly more than mere friendship going on between them, and more than love, there is physical attraction. I’m not sure why Hart didn’t explore that element or bring it closer to the surface, but it bugs me that the reader is left without that resolution. I’m also not happy with the knowledge that James still doesn’t “get” Anne completely, and he seems to very selfishly choose to ignore her emotional needs. I’m not sure if that will change in the future and that bugs me as well.

    YET–I must say, this lack of resolution makes the realism all the more acute for me. This story feels like it could happen to anyone I know. Rarely do people fully resolve their emotional conflicts.

    It’s definitely a measure of how this author writes that she is able to engage my emotions so fully to the point that I don’t feel “right” not knowing what is going to happen with Anne and James.

  46. Austin Cook
    Aug 03, 2010 @ 09:38:19

    women issues these days are more on equal rights with men and woman power-:”

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