Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Review: Don't Tempt Me by Loretta Chase

Loretta Chase, Loretta Chase, Loretta Chase.

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.

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.
Genre: historical romance
Series: none

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+! :)

11 comments:

  1. Arrgghh - Don't Tempt Me Nath! I have this one in the TBR pile and do you know how many others along with it? I don't know either - too many to count. But being as you're tough - if you really like this one then it MUST be good.
    OK - moving it up in the pile.

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  2. Nath! I'm so glad you enjoyed it so much. :)

    The awwww factor *g* I loved both those scenes too.;)

    And yes! I was surprised at the father's absence in a way -- his lack of input in all this. I thought it might be his way of throwing these two together -- manipulating the situation. But that was speculation on my part.

    Chase is a hit and miss for me. I look at all her releases, but don't necessarily buy/read all of them. Glad I picked this one too. :)

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  3. Great review, Nath! It makes me want to pick it up and re-read it. Zoe and Lucien were great together. I also loved that their characters felt fresh and original.

    I'm a total LC fan, so I had pretty high expectations (always dangerous, and a set up for disappointment) and Don't Tempt Me totally lived up to them!

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  4. Hmmm, you've sold me. After Ian I'll pick this one up and see if it works.

    Like you Chase can be hit or miss (Miss Wonderful was awful - for me) but I loved Mr. Impossible like the Monster loves George (Bugs reference) so I'm always waiting to see if Chase can bring the magic again.

    CindyS

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  5. I've only read one Chase and that was Lord of Scoundrels. Like you I wasn't wowed in fact I didn't like the last part of the book.

    I have most of her backlist on my TBR pile so I guess with a B+ grade I'll add this one too. :)

    Great review!

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  6. Kristie - LOL, Kristie!! Well it's in your TBR pile and you have to read it sooner or later right? So why can't it be sooner? I hope you enjoy it :)

    Hilcia - It was a really cute book, definitively :) and isn't that why we read romance? For the awww factor? :P

    I'm just surprised at that we didn't see the impact of her return on the family. I definitively wished we've seen her interacting a little bit more with her parents and brothers. As for her father throwing these two together... well I don't think he did. I mean, Zoe asked Lucien to marry her, he turned her down but said he'd help her out. It didn't have much to do with the father, although I think he knew there was a connection between the two. ah well.

    I'm glad I picked this one up as well :) Proof that I know myself well LOL :)

    Renee - I really enjoyed Zoe and Lucien. They had layers, but they didn't fall into the stereotypes. I have to go back and read your review!!

    Cindy - You bought this one, no? I remember seeing the cover on your blog. I didn't buy Miss Wonderful and Mr. Impossible, I can't really remember which one it is. But I definitively loved this one :P

    (I didn't get the Bugs reference... but then, I don't know which Bugs you're talking about ^_^;)

    Leslie - I think you'll enjoy this one, Leslie. LOL, isn't that a killer when you have so many books by an author that you haven't really read and you keep adding more? LOL :P

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  7. Oh I'm glad you liked this. :P I should hurry up and read it. LOL

    Ok - I have to argue with something you said about how LoS was refreshing when it was first published. It still is! LOL I have not read any other historical romance where the heroine shoots the hero. :P

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  8. LoS is the only novel I've read by Chase. Like you and Leslie, I wasn't really wowed by it. Maybe my expectations were too high? Anyway, somehow I was never tempted to pick up another Chase. But Kristie says it, you're tough, so maybe I should try this one. *g*

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  9. Ames - I can't think of a title right now, but I'm pretty sure that I've read other books where the heroine shoots the hero... but even if I didn't, that would probably the only part that's still "new."

    and yes, you should definitively read this one soon LOL :P I think you'll like it.

    Taja - I'm glad that I'm not the only one. Perhaps you're right and it was a case of the expectations too high. You know what I feel though? A lot of nostalgia... You remember fondly of old books and you don't realize that there's better out there.

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  10. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JlVqfC8-UI

    That's a link to the cartoon where the monster hugs him and squeezes him - Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck

    CindyS

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  11. Cindy - Ohhhhh, you meant Bugs Bunny!!! LOL :) Okay, I know of Bugs Bunny, but I didn't remember that particular story :) Thanks!

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