It's always such a dilemma when she has a new release, because I never know if I should get it or not ^_^; It's not exactly a love-hate relationship that I have with her... More like hit and miss. The first book I picked up by Ms Chase was Lord of Scoundrels because everyone raved about it. While it was enjoyable, I didn't think it lived up to its hype and buzz... probably for two reasons: 1) this was published in the 1980s and at that time, I do think the plot was refreshing. Hell, the heroine shoots the hero! LOL :) But many books with similar plots have come out in the meantime and having read them before Lord of Scoundrels, the newness and freshness that made this book wasn't there for me. 2) I don't do well with hyped books. I don't know if it's my subconscious, but many books that people have raved about hadn't work for me ^_^; I guess I'm just that way.
But back to the subject at hand... Loretta Chase. I almost didn't buy Don't Tempt Me. Almost... I was waddling, but the back blurb was the deciding factor. It sounded fun :) So the big question is: Was it really?
Don't Tempt Me by Loretta Chase
published by Avon in June 2009
Spunky English girl overcomes impossible odds and outsmarts heathen villains.Genre: historical romance
That’s the headline when Zoe Lexham returns to England. After twelve years in the exotic east, she’s shockingly adept in the sensual arts. She knows everything a young lady shouldn’t and nothing she ought to know. She’s a walking scandal, with no hope of a future...unless someone can civilize her.
Lucien de Grey, the Duke of Marchmont, is no knight in shining armor. He’s sarcastic, cynical, easily bored, and dangerous to women. He charms, seduces, and leaves them--with parting gifts of expensive jewelry to dry their tears. But good looks and charm, combined with money and rank, make him welcome everywhere. The most popular bachelor in the Beau Monde can easily save Zoe’s risqué reputation . . . if the wayward beauty doesn’t lead him into temptation, and a passion that could ruin them both.
The Story: At the age of 12, while visiting Egypt with her parents, Zoe Octavia Lexham was kidnapped and then sold into a harem. Twelve years longer, she successfully escapes and finds a way home. However, having spent the most important years of her life in a harem, there is no way that she'll ever be respected and accepted by the ton. Her only hope is to marry extremely well.
Lucien de Grey lost his parents at the age of 10 and was taken in by Lord Lexham. Then, a few years later, his older brother died, leaving Lucien alone... finally, Zoe was kidnapped. With each loss, Lucien's heart died a little... to the point where he didn't care about anything anymore... He simply was. When he hears about Zoe's return, he is sure that she's a scam artist and he is determined to run her off to protect his guardian from heartache... That is, until he sets eyes on her... because the Bolter is indeed back. Then the most surprising happens... while he helps her achieves respectability... Lucien starts to feel again...
My Opinion: I have to say thank you to Hilcia for reviewing Don't Tempt Me and making me pick up this book! Although I bought this book, didn't mean I picked it up to read it... It would probably have languished in my TBR pile for a long time if it wasn't for Hilcia's review... and I have to say, I agree with her. Don't Tempt Me was a fun and enjoyable read. I liked the H/H very much and I thought they made the book.
I really enjoyed Zoe and Lucien's characters. I like their attitude and personality. I thought Zoe was a fun character. She was a great mix of knowledge and innocence. She has no idea what is proper and not and she doesn't much care... however, she'll go along in order to integrate and be able to stay in her homeland. She's persistant, know how to bide her time and resourceful. She also had a lot of mental strength. Personally, to be treated the way she was by her sisters, I would probably have broken down... but I guess she was simply happy to be home. As for Lucien, well there's nothing better than to see a man not care about anything... suddenly care for something. I really liked his backstory, I thought it made sense and explained his attitude very well. Losing people you love to death affects you. To deny it is stupid. In Lucien's case, he just stopped caring - he didn't live, he simply was. Going through the motion, day to day. Doing what is expected of him simply because. The only person he cares about is Lord Lexham who was his guardian and savior. Then, suddenly, Zoe is back... he doesn't change in an instant... he slowly re-awakens, but he does. He starts feeling and caring and I really liked that part.
What I liked most about these two characters is that they were smart and were reasonable. Of course, readers don't like weak characters. However, there are instances where characters are too stubborn... to the point where they argue too much, become irrational, unreasonable... and they are not more likeable than weak characters. As a result, I really liked Zoe and Lucien because they were reasonable and they also communicate. The scene where Lucien forbids Zoe to go out of the house and she's about to argue... but finally chooses to obey, I thought that was great of Zoe. When she realizes how much her disappearance has impacted everyone - her parents, her siblings and Lucien... That was also a good scene.
I found Don't Tempt Me highly enjoyable. It was a great mix of fun and touching scenes. I went awwww many times in the second half of the book. I'd say my favorite scene is when Lucien admits to Zoe that she is all he has left. That all his loved ones have died and he thought he lost her as well, but she came back... and she was all he had left. That scene was very touching. The scene where he gives her the engagement scene was also very cute and the meaning behind - awww. I think that Zoe and Lucien had this complicity and understanding since they were kids... and it just took time for them to find each other again, under the grown-up layers. They had great chemistry and were just fun to read.
Another point that I enjoyed about this book is the villain - the house steward. I thought it was refreshing to see bad servants and one that was mentally deranged. Too often, the villain is a poor relation or another aristocrat or nobility. People who think they are above the law because of their status... and quite frankly, it's getting old. Too often, you read about loyal servants and they provide some comedic relief... So it was fun to read about a servant being a villain. I feel that servants have been very invisible in books, that they are taken for grant - and according to Zoe, they should be. That's their job... but really, if you had loyal servants, you're bound to have bad ones as well and reading about it is fun. Sometime :P
While Don't Tempt Me was good, I do have a few complaints. First, I'd have liked to read a little bit more about Zoe's experience. We're given the basic story and there are many references of her life in the harem... but how was it really? Is there anything that was good? I thought it was glossed over and since it was such an important element... I'd have liked it to be expanded upon. Also, I would have liked to see a lot more interactions between Zoe and her family, especially her father (okay, so aside her sisters). She's been gone for 12 years and suddenly re-appears... and all the sisters worry about is how her reappearance affects their social status? That is just wrong. Her father never gave up hope of finding her, but when he finally gets her back, they barely spend time together. That doesn't make sense either. I don't feel like she got reacquainted with her family and although her relationship with her sisters seem to get better, I'd have liked to see her interact with her brothers and parents.
My Grade: While not perfect, Don't Tempt Me was definitively a good book. My favorite Loretta Chase so far :) Totally deserves B+! :)