Thursday, October 11, 2012

Review: LORD OF TEMPTATION by Lorraine Heath

lord of temptation cover

Anne wants to visit her fiance, Walter, in the Crimea, but her brothers won't let her. So she hires a ship on her own, captained by the dashing pirate Crimson Jack (actually he's just a normal merchant captain, but let's go with pirate. ACTUALLY actually, he's Lord Tristan Easton, but his title was stolen from him when he was a teenager, and he's no longer welcome in Society or vice versa). Soon he and Anne are PLAGUING one another with their beautiful and attractive selves, he being all impossible man!-ish, she being all proper. Tristan sets the price of the voyage at a kiss, but he may be the one to pay--with his heart. If only could give up his true mistress, the sea!

I have read and enjoyed Lorraine Heath's novels in the past. I can't remember what those novels were at the moment, but I know they exist. I love novels set on ships (and with pirates, although once again I must reiterate that Tristan isn't a pirate), so I thought Lord of Temptation would be a sure bet. It certainly has all the elements of a historical romance romp--historomaromp?--but they never came together for me.

It wasn't because of the writing style, although sentences like this drove me crazy:
He wished the fire in the grate was producing writhing flames into which he could stare contemplatively rather than into her eyes.
Hm, yes. I wish the sun was emanating spring-like rays in which I could twirl ecstatically rather than sit inside. I wish the stove was cooking delicious comestibles with which I could quench my appetite rather than just watching the Food Network. There are so many things insentient objects could be doing right now to make our lives easier!

No, that didn't really bother me. But what did bother me was that the settings were never fully utilized. There was no sense of the mechanics of running a ship--Tristan mostly acted like he was on holiday and could whatever he wanted--and very little description of Scutari once Anne and Tristan reached it. Then they go BACK TO ENGLAND, and despite the fact that it was kind of like in Pirates of the Caribbean when they go back to the island, I was actually looking forward to their return because I imagined the London haute ton would be a familiar enough setting that the characters would have a solid setting to move in and established characters to interact with. But despite the addition of some entertaining impediments--namely Anne's brothers and an obsessed fangirl for Tristan--this part of the novel seemed to drag. I feel like Heath didn't do enough research for Lord of Temptation and that it could have been set at any time, in any place, with the result being that it feels a little phoned in, particularly near the end.

lord tristan is an orange
Lord Tristan (visual approximation)

As for the characters, Heath did a good job of setting up Anne's motivation for going from a proper engaged lady to someone willing to risk her reputation and carry on an affair, which is something that doesn't always happen in historical romances. But at the same time, I really don't need THAT much convincing someone is willing to have sex. Furthermore, I don't get what Tristan's appeal was at all, other than physically. And as this is a book and I can't see him, his bulging biceps and bright blue eyes don't really work as convincing features of attractiveness. Aside from his love of oranges, and the fact that he smelled like oranges (he was an orange, basically), there were no consistently distinguishing features of his personality; it seemed to change from scene to scene.

There's another thing that really bothered me about Lord of Temptation: this book would not pass the Bechdel Test (quick run down of the Bechdel Test if you're not familiar: the story has 1. female characters who 2. talk to other female characters 3. about something other than men). There is one main female character, and that's Anne. The three other minor female characters get about five pages between them, and when they do talk to Anne, all they talk about are men and how she needs to get married. So you're writing a book with a decidedly female audience, and STILL the story is basically all about dicks? It's a giant dick party! And don't even get me started on the fact that Anne "has" to get married because, well, she just does! Otherwise she's totally useless! And then (spoiler alert) she gets married. Uhg. Just kill me and get it over with.

Anyway. Lord of Temptation wasn't one of those Heath novels that I REALLY liked, although honestly it was okay. It was a little cheesy and predictable, but it wasn't boring (most of the time), so that was a plus; and I did have fun imagining Lord Tristan as an orange.

Thank you to TLC Booktours and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review!


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