Temptation's Song
by Janice Sims, contemporary (2010)
Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86170-5


Janice Sims's previous books were hit-and-miss for me, but I'm pleased to report that Temptation's Song sees the author getting back in top form to remind me why I'm a fan of hers.

The story may not be the most exciting one around if you are looking for the kicks, though. There are no spies, murders, and explosions. The hero doesn't sprout fur during the full moon or lift one leg over the fire hydrant, and he doesn't sparkle in the sunlight either. This is a straightforward tale of romance - nothing but the loving - and it makes a nice break between urban fantasy romances.

The plot is simple. Elle Jones, a Juilliard-trained mezzo-soprano, is in Milan, Italy for some R&R with her best friends when she discovers that the famous composer Dominic Corelli is holding an open audition for the lead female role in his new opera Temptation. Elle just has to audition, especially when she's already a big fan of Dominic, and you can guess what happens next. Of course she gets the role, don't be silly, and eventually they fall in love. However, Dominic doesn't feel that he is ready to settle down with a woman while Elle isn't willing to settle for less when it comes to her man. Can they find a middle ground for their happily ever after?

The author handles her story in a manner that I find most enjoyable because she does everything in a manner that seems so... sensible, heh. Elle, for example, doesn't have to give up her career for love. In this story, since Elle and Dominic are attracted to each other, the author needs a reason to prolong the inevitable bedroom scene and keep the sexual tension going. I like how Ms Sims has Elle refusing to sleep with Dominic quickly because of her principles and beliefs about love and relationship.

Elle is in fact a welcome change from so many contrived heroines out there. She wants love, but she doesn't lose her common sense just because she's attracted to a man. She wants to have a family with the man she loves, but she also has ambitions and dreams when it comes to her career. Her mother was burned by love when Elle's father abandoned them both without much thought, but Elle doesn't let the unhappy story of her mother's relationship with her father turn her into a jaded creature refusing to believe that one can be happy in a loving relationship.

Dominic is also a nice change for a hero. He's written as a player - and yes, I know every other hero in a Kimani romance is a player - but Dominic comes off as a pretty real and well-adjusted guy instead of some cartoon playboy. He has no mother issues or catty ex-girlfriends, and Ms Sims doesn't try to claim that his sad past turned him into a playboy.

Both Dominic and Elle along with their family members and friends are portrayed as so immensely talented that things can get tedious very quickly in the wrong hands. Fortunately, because the main characters feel pretty real and likable, the rather unrealistic aspect of their perfect talent doesn't affect my enjoyment of the story too much.

The pacing is just right, as the romance moves slowly but surely to the finish line without having its momentum flag, and the repartee between the main characters and various secondary characters make me smile. Most importantly, this story drives home just how wonderful it is to fall in love in a manner that is just right without coming off too much like a sitcom or a sentimental movie of the week thing.

At the end of the day, Temptation's Song is a story about falling in love, and it goes about putting a wide smile on my smile by delivering an entertaining combo of likable and realistic characters, enjoyable chemistry, humorous repartee, and heartfelt emotions. Considering how cynical I can be when it comes to romance novels, I think Ms Sims has done something pretty remarkable here.

Rating: 88


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