Brazen Temptress
by Elizabeth Boyle, historical (1999)
Dell, $5.99, ISBN 0-440-22639-2

Brazen Temptress is a disappointing fizzle to a fun swashbuckling trilogy. Brazen Temptress features both pirate hero and heroine. Trouble is that they are at loggerheads with each other. Once, eight years ago, Julien d'Artiers (brother of heroines Lily and Sophia of the previous two books) courted, married Maureen Hawthorne, and apparently betrayed her pirate father and the crew. Crazed with grief and anger, Maureen leaped into the sea and was presumed drowned. Cut to eight years down the road, Maureen and her men were arrested for smuggling and were sentenced to hang. She made a bargain with the horrible Lord Admiral: she would bring the infamous privateer de Ryes to justice in return for freedom of herself and her men. It was an easy bargain, for de Ryes was her husband, and Maureen wanted that lying, traitorous scum to hang.

Maureen was taken in by a noble family, molded into a passable noble lady, and was let loose into the ballrooms of London. That de Ryes scum was in for a lot of trouble.

Exciting? Fun? Breathtaking?

Unfortunately, no. Maureen couldn't trust Julien, and for good reason. Tell me, if you're Julien, and you see the woman you presumed dead, the only woman you've loved, you're glad, you're relieved, you want her back! Right? Fair enough. You find out she thinks you've betrayed her. What will you do? Tell her straight?

No. Julien made vague apologies. Julien tried to make her jealous by flirting with other girls. By the end of the day I'm more irritated than the day I watched The Teletubbies for the first time.

These two people just wouldn't talk. They went round and round in circles around each other, until one gets dizzy watching them. If only Julien talked. If only Ms Boyle didn't rely so much on the Big Misunderstanding angle. There's betrayals, intrigue, suspense - enough external crisis to create a marvelous epic. Instead, we have two distrustful lead characters, a rather glib and underdeveloped hero, a secret baby plot that really isn't necessary and smacks of plot convenience... all the more disappointing because I know Ms Boyle can do better.

Rating: 56

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