Dear Mrs Hoyt,
I love the beginning of a new series. New characters to meet, new situations to explore, new relationships to work out. Everything’s fresh and (hopefully) wide open. “To Taste Temptation” is, I believe, book one in what looks like a four book series if the fable at the start is our guide. Okay, let’s get going.
Lady Emeline Gordon starts off so correct, so polished, so controlled that I just knew she’d end up rumpled, turned upside down and very out of control. I enjoyed watching Samuel slowly peel away her perfect exterior. She’s afraid to love again after losing her first husband, afraid to trust a man’s promises after the deaths of her brother and father have left her alone and it takes a lot of work to get her heart to crack open enough to admit love again.
Samuel Hartley is a man who enjoys ignoring social conventions and prodding people just to get a reaction. He must have played countless pranks as a child. He’s also a man who is comfortable with himself and feels little need to make empty boasts or puff himself up in company. Something about Emmie’s smooth poise just calls to him to ruffle her a little. Then push her a lot in order to get her to admit her feelings for him. Yet he still retains some self doubt about this high born English lady. I’ll be honest and say that even as I liked watching Emmie let her hair down, Samuel tiptoes towards a bit of alpha-ish behavior. She said no and he ignored it a few too many times for my comfort.
I just mentioned recently that I’m tired of heroes held hostage to their PTSD so it was with reserve that I realized Samuel has his demons to fight. It’s not the usual Penninsular War ones of Regency infamy but instead those of an earlier and less well known war, unless one has watched “Last of the Mohicans.” Whatever one thinks of the 1992 version of the story, that ambush sequence has stayed with me for years and the end of Duncan Heyward leaves me cold so I can understand Samuel’s dreams and nightmares. I think you handled him and his issues well, not allowing them to take over his character or actions but still driving him to find the man who betrayed them all into that hell.
I do have some questions about Samuel’s actions after the attack. Ransom? How could he be running to an English fort for ransom if he left as the Hurons were taking the other men captive? How could he have known what the ransom would be? Plus did the Hurons/Wyandots usually take captives for ransom? I thought it was either for adoption into the tribe as replacements for tribal members killed or as war captives to entertain the rest of the tribe. Not for ransom. I stand prepared to be corrected.
I think you write ‘the hero realizes his love for his heroine’ scenes better than almost anyone else out there.
Soon now he would get up and walk to the door, leaving this room and making his way through the silent house. Let himself out into the dawn. Go back to the town house that wasn’t truly his. In two days, he would board a ship and spend over a month watching the waves as he sailed back home. And once there? Why, he’d continue his life as if he’d never met a woman named Emeline.
Except, while his life might look the same from the outside, it would be entirely different on the inside. He wouldn’t forget her, his warm lady, even if he lived for six decades more. He knew that now, sitting by her cold fire. She would be with him all the days of his life. As he walked the streets of Boston, as he conducted his business or chatted with acquaintances, she would be the ghost beside him. She would sit with him as he ate, she would lie beside him as he slept. And he knew that when his time on this earth was at an end, his last thought as he entered the void would be of her.
The scent of lemon balm would haunt him forever.
Rebecca is lost for whole days and segments of the book. I didn’t like this as Rebecca already seems to be a weaker character as compared to Emmie. Losing track of her for ages didn’t help any. I also hated to see her neglected by her brother. How did Jasper find out about Emmie and Samuel? Did I miss a scene or revelation? He apparently knows nothing of their relationship then suddenly he’s hellbent on revenge after everyone returns to London.
I was preparing to be disappointed with the villain and how quickly I figured out who he was. Then you flipped that a little, thank goodness. I loved Samuel’s interactions with Daniel. Guy bonding at its best. It must have reminded Samuel of the years before his own father died. Tante Cristelle is a darling. And you made an effort to try and make her sound French. Yeah!
This book seems less fairy tale like than “The Raven Prince” so maybe I was expecting more realism. The little things I noticed seem to bother me more here than similar things have in previous books. Not that I didn’t like this book and inhale it but I found myself reading it with a bit more of a critical eye. Still it’s a B+ grade.