REVIEW: Temptation and Surrender by Stephanie Laurens
Dear Ms. Laurens:
What 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