Tempting
by Susan Johnson, historical (2001)
Brava, $15.00, ISBN 1-57566-803-3


I paid $15.00 for a recycled mishmash of Sweet Love, Survive and Brazen and Sinful and more. Watch out, world, I am not a happy woman. $15.00 could have bought me all three of the books I've mentioned above, and by the same logic, three times the amount of hot sex I can have in $15.00 (and 290 pages) worth of Tempting. Next time: UBS, and I don't mean the UBS as a dumping ground for radioactive wastes that are bad romance novels.

Still, Tempting proves one of my more wacky theories: this author's last few books for Bantam, which is tame beyond belief, is a result of editorial hijack. With the more liberal editors at Kensington, this author again spices it up. Ai-yai-yai, how nice. Too bad I've read it all before, plots and sexual positions. It's not bad - it is sexy and fun - but it's familiar and hence not that fun.

Princess Christina Gray is a stereotypical heroine married to an abusive, cheating hubby. Someone tell me how an abusive man can be so successful in the adultery arena, please. There must be many brain-damaged women on the prowl in those times. Nonetheless, she keeps herself in celibate solitude, her opinion of sex soiled by her husband, with only a few more outgoing and sexually adventurous girlfriends and her two sons for company.

But when Max Falconer starts making the rounds among the women as Stud of the Season, Christina is intrigued. She must try out the stud to see if her friends are right about the prowess of this man. Why? Oh, because she thinks he is a nice, sensitive dude, of course. Not because she's a ho, no way, readers.

It is a sad, sad day when erotic romance authors start making excuses for their heroine's orgasms.

Nonetheless, they fall in love (done better in Brazen), husband gets jealous and threatens the kids and her (see Brazen and Outlaw), and the passel of heroine's girlfriends come straight out of - yup, Brazen. The royalty angle seems like a tribute to Sweet Love, Survive, as is the boink-your-houseguest scenario. Tempted is a pretty tired affair indeed, plot- and character-wise.

I kind of like Max though. He's obsessed with Christina. I like that, really. But I don't fully enjoy this aspect of the story because the author just tells me to take for granted, hey, they're in love! Yee-ha. This is a retread of past books too, but really, for $15.00, I'd at least appreciate some deeper relationship development.

That's the problem. I paid $15.00 and I get a rehash of Susan Johnson's older, sexier backlist. On one hand, I am glad - welcome back, Ms Johnson, Sexy Romance Novelist, and don't let those snobby critics who go on and on about your use of the F word and C word and heck, whatever word turn you into some faux-Laura Kinsale. Your last few Bantam books show that you're better off writing what you like best - sexysexysexy. But on the other hand, it is $15.00, mind you. How about some depths for that cutthroat price?

Rating: 77


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