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REVIEW: Season for Temptation by Theresa Romain

Dear Ms. Romain:

You received a glowing endorsement from Courtney Milan and I had to try this book out. While I am not sorry I read it, perhaps heightened expectations left me with a disappointed feeling during the book. I think, too, the book was a bit too lighthearted for me. I seem to be enjoying the darker, agnsty historicals more these days.

Season for Temptation Theresa RomainJames, Viscount Matheson, comes to visit his new fiancée’s family and while there feels an incredible pull toward his fiancée’s sister, Julia Herington. James decided it was time for him to marry and he runs into Louisa hiding in a library at a ball. They strike up a conversation and James believes that Louisa would be a perfect match for him.  Louisa quickly agrees to his marriage proposal.  Now they are endeavoring to get to know one another better.

Nothing much seems to happen for the first half. James visits his fiancée’s family. Julia runs around interrupting people and cursing while James wonders at his physical and emotional attraction toward Julia. Louis is a nearly silent spectre.

A storytelling technique is utilized here to create mystery about characters’ motivations.  We know that James had to get married soon but we don’t know the reason why.  We know that Louisa is anxious about being married but we don’t know why she accepted James’ proposal.  When the reasons are revealed later in the story, they make sense, but it was hard to understand the actions of the characters when the motivations were completely hidden.

I also found Julia a bit too much of a conventional romance heroine. She’s in charge of her family’s household despite being of young age (and despite having a living mother, father, and close in age stepsister). She’s quirky. She careens around her home and curses. She says whatever comes into her head. Voila. Perfect for James, the hero. The plan to find Julia a spouse conveniently leads James to jealousy because no man was right for Julia in his eyes (except himself).

I kept envisioning Julia as this excitable terrier, always running around, yipping, and chewing holes through dresses. The introduction of the bawdy, irascible aunt who reminded me a bit of Dolly in Hello, Dolly, was thrown in for humor purposes and to serve as a foil for James’ uptight mother. I wished for more depth from everyone.  The technique of the delayed reveal actually made the characters superficial and unrelatable.  For instance, Louisa’s initially stated cynicism regarding courtship and marriage seemed at odds with her mother’s happy marriage to Julia’s father and her being raised in a loving family. Later, we find out that her earlier feelings were the result of misery and true discomfort at being part of society.  If I had known this earlier on, perhaps her actions would have been viewed differently.

The other thing I found odd was that so much time was spent showing James and Julia spending time alone and talking and very little time showing James and Louisa together. I understand that this was to show us the connection that Julia and James had, but whenever there is a severing of an existing relationship, a promise between people of marriage, I admit to feeling uneasy. That uneasiness stayed with me and granted it stayed with James and Julia, but my discomfort over the situation remained. Why were the two spending so much time together? Why did Louisa appear so nervous of James? Why did James have these salacious thoughts about Julia? I mean, I know the answer is because Louisa doesn’t really want to marry James and James must show that his soul mate is Julia, right away, but because of his promise toward Louisa, I was disturbed by his feelings and his actions:

Louisa bit her lip as she considered, then admitted, “If we marry soon, I shall have to sponsor Julia during her season next spring.”

This seemed like a total non sequitur to James, but he tried to respond as he thought Louisa would expect him to.

“I think that would be delightful. You could begin your life as a London hostess with one of your favorite family connections.”

His groin tightened. Delightful. Julia, in his house, nearby always, saucy and willing.

Oh, yes. And under his wife’s supervision. The vision popped as quickly as a soap bubble.

There is a definite tinge of infidelity that swirls around the forbidden love of Julia and James, even if Louisa did not love James, he did not know of her feelings and his actions could have caused a huge rift between Julia and Louisa not to mention cause real conflict and further disgrace for his own family.  Perhaps I was to see this as James’ being swept away by passion.

The first half of the story was all undone by the second half of the story and while that might be a technique that works for some readers, it didn’t work for me. It kept me distanced from the characters, their romance, and their emotional struggles. From a distance, I could see what I should have been feeling during the book: longing for the forbidden lovers to find each other, sadness at characters’ inabilities to overcome their insecurities, enjoyment that true love would triumph. Knowing, however, isn’t the same as being in the moment.

I think that readers who enjoy Julia Quinn would enjoy this book. There is quite a bit of heart to the story, but it never resonated with me. C

Best regards,

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

7 Comments

  1. Kim
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 13:05:01

    I haven’t read this book yet, but I may give it a try. I like Julia Quinn’s books, so I might like this one. From Jane’s description, however, I would have a problem with Julia’s behavior if she acted on the attraction. Even if Louisa doesn’t love James, I hope that Julia at least fought her feelings. I can’t imagine a worse betrayalthan someone getting involved with her sister’s betrothed. Even though it’s fiction, you have to like the characters.

  2. Dennis
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 13:22:00

    I think your spell checker caused this.

    viola = sort of like a violin
    voila = French word

  3. Jane
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 13:25:52

    @Dennis Nah, just my own stupidity. Thanks for pointing it out.

  4. Jennie
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 19:20:40

    This book sounds interesting, but as I was reading your review it occurred to me that I would be more interested if Louisa was the heroine – if James was attracted to Julia but ended up falling in love with Louisa in the end. Maybe just because Julia sounds annoying.

  5. Jane
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 19:47:23

    @Jennie She’s not really annoying but rather too familiar, if that makes sense. Maybe too young for my taste as well.

  6. swati
    Oct 21, 2011 @ 00:01:54

    Julia quinn is slowly starting to shift to my “borrow but don’t buy” list.
    She still writes some parts well- the humor, the wit, the quirkiness, smart ass dialogues. All good. But i feel strangely detached from the characters. I am not rooting for them, i don’t remember them after the first read (and they are definitely not good for a second read).
    Your review makes me think the same about this author. Too cliche of a heroine. And i am too veering towards the darker, agnsty historicals. Because these light, fun ones are starting to sound very similar.

  7. meoskop
    Oct 21, 2011 @ 01:39:32

    I like light and fun, but I don’t know if the sister angle would work for me. It’s a rare book to pull that off, too many conflicting issues of loyalty and character involved.

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