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REVIEW: Temptation and Surrender by Stephanie Laurens

Dear Ms. Laurens:

006124340x01lzzzzzzzWhat can I say? I can’t quit you. (Note to self, this is becoming the most overused phrase in the english language, a close second behind “maverick” and “change” so please try to eradicate it from your vocabulary). Temptation and Seduction is like 50th in your Cynsters series and it features the brother of Phyllda who married Lucas Cynster. I stopped reading the Cynster books after the twins’ stories but I have been enjoying, to varying degrees, the Bastion Club series.

Jonas Tallent is rusticating in the village of Colytons, the home of his family, trying to sort out some business for his father. He’s down from London because he tires of the endless balls, the clubs, and managing mamas. Jonas is eager to “take up the reins” of the family affairs because he’s felt empty and discontent. One of his most tasking challenges is to find an innkeeper for the village inn, Red Bells. It’s fallen in disrepair under the management of the previous innkeeper, now deceased. Jonas has had trouble filling the position because Colyton is such a “backwater.”

Enter Emily Beauregard Colyton. Emily has just turned twenty-five and under the terms of her father’s will, she has finally gained guardianship over her four siblings. Emily and the family’s solicitor has arranged for her to take her family and relocate to Colyton, the home of their forefathers. Emily has little money left over from the move and the posting for an innkeeper of Red Bells is a lifesaver. Emily and her family are searching for the Colyton treasure and pin the hopes of their future on finding this treasure and taking it for their own.

I was a little befuddled as to why Emily and her siblings were so convinced that this treasure existed given all that they had was a simple rhyme passed down through the family and why, if they found it in a house owned by someone else, it would belong to them. Yet Emily and her family operate under this principle as if it is fact, instead of some hopeful dream. It was very odd.

The latter third of the book is where the story actually addresses the treasure hunt and that was the most fun part of the book. In fact, if much of the mental narratives would have been removed or at least shortened, I think the book would have been loads better. As it was, this book had so little action in the first 2/3 of the story, I wondered whether the characters had a pulse. I had to check my own at times. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a langorous story, I do, but this one had long moments of internal character dialogue. Three or four pages might be spent describing one infitessimal moment such as the very beginning of a kiss. And those kisses spoke volumes. I.e., Jonas could tell that he was the first man she’d ever welcomed.

Her mouth was all sweetness, lusciously tempting; he took, pressed further, carefully claimed.
Carefully learned. Her innocence was transparent, at least to him; fresh and alluring-‘not the innocence of ignorance, not passive or shy, but alive and eager and elementally untouched.
She’d been kissed before, but not willingly. He was the first man she’d ever welcomed; that knowledge was certain, undisputed in his mind, and brought with it a responsibility, of which, as he found her tongue with his and gently stroked, he was acutely aware.

And Emily learns that Jonas wants her in a possessive way, but also in a logical, rational way. Logic and reason are always inherent traits of possessiveness.

When he kissed her, she understood why he wanted to protect her-‘sensed through the kiss that he wanted her in a possessive way, so protecting something he wanted as his was logical, rational.

On the basis of a walk and a few kisses, Jonas decides that he will marry Emily, the lady fallen on hard times supporting her family and working as an innkeeper, presumably in part because she kissed with such innocence. Also like a houri.

Stepping out of the doorway, he answered, ‘”We’ll see about that?‘ Not to mention”-‘he waved back into the storeroom-‘”kissing me like a houri and then telling me you aren’t seeking my attentions. If that’s not a gauntlet-‘a challenge-‘I don’t know what is.”

Frankly, I wasn’t quite sure why Jonas wanted to marry Emily other than possibly because in a few days she was able to turn the village hellhole aka Red Bells (which somehow I constantly referred to as Red Balls in my head) into a village delight where all the ladies would come for afternoon. I guess she was a miracle worker whose kisses conveyed whole treatises. That and she had some story about a lost treasure.

I have loved quite a few of your past tales, but this one is a miss for me. Besides the slowness of the plot, neither Emily nor Jonas grew in anyway. They were totally flat characters and their pursuit of each other was also singularly uninteresting. C

Best regards,


This book can be purchased in hardcover from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store ($11.99 at Sony) and other etailers.

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. Lizzy
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 07:24:27

    Oh, Jane, thanks for the review. Alas, for all the reasons you mention, I am once and for all off the Cynsters. I just tried and failed to read Laurens’ last one, Title Forgotten Because Book Was So Forgettable. And that was a story about child kidnapping! Yet, I found the characters so mortally dull and their actions so regrettably flat that I just couldn’t care what kind of important hijinks they were up to. By 1/3 of the way through, I was beginning to think the kids probably ran away, anything to escape the crushing monotony of the story they were being forced to take part in.

  2. SonomaLass
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 16:32:18

    Sounds worse than a C to me, Jane. Is that because the treasure hunt was fun?

  3. Jane
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 16:39:23

    @SonomaLass: I have a hard time giving below a C grade simply because I was bored. I find that a D or F grade has to mean that something is structurally wrong. I.e., that the author clearly intended to do A, but only succeeded in doing Z. Or if the book has themes that I find offensive. Or if the book has no plot, etc. It could have been a C-, but I couldn’t give it a grade below that. At least, that didn’t feel comfortable to me.

    (I actually thought I would get this very comment because it does sound worse, but I was just really, really bored. Can that be a lower than C grade?)

  4. DS
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 16:59:57

    I was a little befuddled as to why Emily and her siblings were so convinced that this treasure existed given all that they had was a simple rhyme passed down through the family and why, if they found it in a house owned by someone else, it would belong to them. Yet Emily and her family operate under this principle as if it is fact, instead of some hopeful dream. It was very odd.

    I don’t know why they would have believed that the treasure existed but a deliberately hidden treasure under common law would have to be turned over the coroner. If the family could prove the original owner and that they are the heirs and assigns then they would have the greater right to it as the lawful owners regardless of who owns the property.

    There’s lots of other fascinating bits and pieces to the law. For instance a trespasser who found a treasure would not have greater right to the treasure than the owner of property. If no true owner can be proved then the treasure goes back to the current land owner.

    Of course this was changed in Great Britain in the 90’s and the law in the US is different.

  5. Tae
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 18:17:14

    I stopped reading Laurens a while ago too since they were getting boring. I couldn’t keep track of them anymore. I much prefer earlier Laurens. It looks like I haven’t been missing much.

  6. Sybil
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 18:28:10

    You know I have never been one to think of ‘c’ as a bad grade. To me C = average.

    So being bored being a C. From the sounds of the review I think, again for me, a factor would be would I read the author again. If I would it would stay in the C range if I wouldn’t it would go C- maybe D+.

    But that is me, I know many disagree with me that C = average. And is still a good grade. Even though that would mean that leaves A and B as the ‘good’ grades and three evol ones for the rest.

    I hope to get to this soon, haven’t read Lauren’s in forever. The cover is fabu. Right now I am enjoying Balogh’s newest. And am chatty as all get out so I am shutting up now.

  7. Debbie
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 18:45:16

    “Dear Ms. Laurens:

    What can I say? I can't quit you.”

    Oh, dear, neither can I. I stopped buying the Cynster books since they went to hardback, but somehow I simply have to check them out of the library as soon as they are released. In fact, I picked up T&S today. I don’t really expect it to be any different than its predecessors, but I wouldn’t be able to sleep nights until I made sure. I still purchase ebook editions of the Bastion Club novels, for pretty much the same reason. It’s a sickness!

  8. Jane
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 18:59:31

    @Debbie Let me know if you find a cure. Otherwise, I’ll see you when the Bastion club novel comes out.

  9. joanne
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 19:05:42

    What’s in a kiss? Obviously pages and pages of knowledge if you could just be there, but since we can’t it’s too much from too little.

    I’ve been such an S.L. supporter because I’ve always loved her settings, her sophisticated heroes and smart, strong heroines….. but even I have to wish for more now.

    Victoria Dahl’s comments about her upcoming releases and that she made some “departures” from her other work is such a nice thing to hear from an author. She’s had success with previous books but writes the next stories in a different way so that she and her books stay fresh. It’s an attitude that I wish Stephanie Laurens would adopt.

    Ms Laurens has a wonderful command of language and can paint such beautiful pictures but I truly wish she would find a point of departure for future works that would stretch her comfort zone and my interest.

    I did think there was some freshness to the “The Casebook of Barnaby Adair” novel — but I don’t write notes and I probably wouldn’t be able to find them if I did so I don’t know why that felt different. Of course I’m all over the last book for the Bastion Club series when it comes out ………but unfortunately the Cynsters have danced their last waltz on my auto-buy list.. they slip to ‘when there’s nothing else new out’..

    Thank you Jane

  10. Kaetrin
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 19:26:39

    I haven’t given up on SL yet. I’m definitely going to get the last Bastion Club novel – I want to know about Dalziel!

    I don’t know if it’s just me, but I am getting sick of the thesaurus regurgitation (that sounds mean and I don’t intend that but I can’t think of another way to say it). It is there in the quotes above.


    He was the first man she'd ever welcomed; that knowledge was certain, undisputed in his mind,

    why not just say the knowledge was certain?
    or, the knowledge was undisputed in his mind?
    why both? ALL the time

    I can read a sentence or 2 and know immediately it comes from an SL novel – unfortunately, not in a good way. Like I said, maybe it’s just me. When I first started reading SL this didn’t bother me – I noticed it, acknowledged it, was aware of if (aarrrgghhh, it’s catching!!) but now it bugs me, irritates me, upsets my sensibilities….. etc *g*

    I’d like her to try a sparer hand – I think that Jane was alluding to this sort of thing too – less describing and more doing please!

  11. Sherry Thomas
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 20:16:03

    The book cover says Temptation and Surrender. not Temptation and Seduction.

  12. Janine
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 20:51:24

    Sherry– Thanks! I fixed it. Not the first time it’s happened and probably won’t be the last.

  13. Janet W
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 21:02:53

    As long as my library stocks the latest Laurens, I’m a reading! And if I’m weak at the airport, I’m buying. She’s a drug … and I truly get some kinda satisfaction out of reading her books. Plus a TON of Laurens are on my keeper shelves … all the Regencies, Devil’s Bride (LOVED it!) and all the way into the first few Bastions. As addictions go, it’s pretty harmless.

    Really adored the one about the tall tall gal who was the (not really) Widow seeking “assistance” from Rupert — and she got assistance :D … the perfume giveaway. And I just finished re-reading Truly by Balogh and the hero’s “musky” scent was always confusing her (this was an earlier Balogh and the hero had a couple identities).

  14. fan
    Nov 17, 2009 @ 07:39:05

    @Janine: And Phyllida’s husband is Lucifer, not Lucas. *smile*

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