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REVIEW: Tempting Evil by Allison Brennan

Dear Ms. Brennan:

book review I bought this book because I’ve been wanting to read you for a long time but never got around to it. I actually have no reason because I think I even have received a few of your books for free. I think I believed that your books were more suspense-y and not very romance-y and I like the mix. Well, honestly I like books with a good dollop of romance.

Aaron Doherty was in prison for a little thing like killing a famous actress due to suffering from erotomania. Erotomania is a disease in which individuals delude themselves into believing that they have an intimate relationship with another, usually a celebrity. While in prison, Aaron begins reading romance books written by Joanna Sutton. He begins to believe that she writes these books directly to him, that the passages are communications. One day there is an earthquake and he is able to escape with a few other prisoners. He makes his way to Montana where Joanna lives and plans to start a new life that she’s been promising in her books. Yeah, Doherty is super creepy.

Joanna is a widow whose son and husband were killed five years ago by her sister’s abusive ex-boyfriend. She’s been living and seems to have recovered but not enough to allow a relationship with the new sheriff to blossom. Sheriff Tyler McBride has his own issues such as being a single parent to his son and trying to repair a relationship with his half-brother.

The suspense part of the book was excellent. As I stated before the villian, Aaron Doherty, was creepy (that’s the best word I’ve got to describe him). One of his co-jail breakers is a murderer who does some pretty horrible things in the book, particularly to women. I found a couple of scenes to be stomach churning even though they were brief.

There is a strong romance core to the story but I felt a certain distance to it, a certain superficiality. I couldn’t exactly explain the root of this feeling but I never really got the sense that the two belonged together. Maybe it was because so much time is spent with Joanna laying her love for her dead husband to rest. Maybe it was because there were so many familial issues for both Joanna and Tyler that nothing seemed to be dealt with on a very deep level.

Joanna and Tyler both had issues with their siblings and Tyler had relationship issues with his son, but very little of the internal exposition was spent unraveling those complicated feelings and then they seemed to be summarily resolved toward the latter part of the book in response to a trauma. In one passage, Tyler’s emotions were described as follows: He felt everything inside shift and settle, and the old hurts and misunderstandings washed away. I did feel that was how the conflicts were dealt with – one heart to heart conversation and all the ill will was washed away.

Both Tyler and Joanna were widow/widowers but their backgrounds were different. Tyler had a difficult marriage and Joanna had a really good one. I would have loved to have seen how those differences led to their readiness and/or acceptance for another relationship. I think that there was more time spent in the book connecting Aaron, the creepy villain, to Joanna and that they actually had more scenes together.

This is the second in the Prison Break trilogy and while I didn’t need to read book 1 to fully appreciate either the suspense or the romance, there were a number of extraneous characters who must have appeared in book 1 or will appear in book 3. I thought that those scenes were obvious sequel bait and tended to distract from the book 2 characters.

While there was plenty of romance in this romantic suspense, it didn’t seem to flow well with the story and I admit to ending the story a little hungry for a deeper romance relationship. C+

Best regards,


This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and 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


  1. ChrissyLovesPunk
    Aug 17, 2009 @ 20:44:51

    Thank you for the review Jane :)

    I have been in a ‘will she – won’t she’ buying crisis with regard to Allison Brennan for quite some time now, and i find myself standing in front of the suspense shelf in our local bookstore debating whether i should get the books or not. This is actually the 1st review i’ve read about her that truly gave me an indication of what kind of writer Ms. Brennan is, but I’m still not quite so decided.

    I’m a great fan of Karen Rose, and I guess that she’s my benchmark when it comes to romantic suspense…so please help me, should I buy Brennan or not? :)

    Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated :)



  2. Jane
    Aug 17, 2009 @ 20:50:12

    @ChrissyLovesPunk: I don’t find Brennan to be as romance oriented as Karen Rose. She writes decent suspense books, but nothing flashy. I really enjoyed the recent release of new author Kate Brady. I wrote a review of it here. The suspense is very good and the romance is fairly well integrated.

    Another author you might like is Jill Sorenson. Here’s a review of one of her books.

    If you click on the tag “romantic suspense” at the top of the review, you’ll see other RS book reviews.

    Lots of people like Brennan. She’s a bestseller.

  3. ChrissyLovesPunk
    Aug 17, 2009 @ 21:26:07

    Thanks for this Jane!

    I think I’m more of a suspense person than a romance person, so if Allison Brennan’s books are heavier on suspense, then i could probably give it a go :) I sometimes skim on the romance parts anyway, but i still need it to keep me balanced :)

    I will check out your review of the other books, who knows, might be adding some new favorites on my shelf.

    Thanks for the advice Jane! At least now i could stop staring at the shelves and start buying books :)


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