Saturday, July 18, 2009

Don't Tempt Me, by Loretta Chase - Review

A Little Disappointing
I have never been let down by Loretta Chase before. Even deep in her backlist, where sometimes you find an author's less polished works, I enjoyed every book. Chase has a knack for writing unusual, misfit heroines that succeed against all odds, generally because of their eccentricities, rather than in spite of them.

Unfortunately, that didn't happen for me with Don't Tempt Me. I really did want to love Zoe Octavia, but I felt like I was seeing her through the wrong end of a telescope for most of the book. Very little takes place from within her point of view -- what there is, is intriguing, but there wasn't enough for me.


The Premise
In a nod to the Old Skool harem trope, Zoe is introduced to the reader as the latest ton sensation, the long-lost daughter of a prominent noble, escaped after 12 years in the harem of an impotent <eyeroll> pasha. Her mission: to overcome the scandal and live the life to which she was born.

Lucien, with an abandonment complex the size of the Titanic's nemesis, has just enough power in the fashionable circles to help her out. Considering that Zoe's father is the one person for whom Lucien has respect and affection, he's more than willing.

And then?

Beyond that, the book sort of petered out for me. There was never any major obstacle to the relationship between the hero and the heroine. The plot device was unimaginative and underdeveloped. I could live with that, but what I really wanted was to connect better with Zoe.

I didn't get to, though. Her backstory was told to the reader through a newspaper story, of all things, which Lucien engineered to build some empathy for her plight. Not a bad starting place, but we got very little more. I was left feeling like I knew slightly more about Zoe than any random woman of the times who read the newspaper.

The Bright Spot
Chase has always been good at building characters, and maybe the trouble here is just that it was too subtle for me overall. The stuff I did like was about Zoe's consistency throughout. Certain characteristics pinged back to her and Lucien's shared childhood, showing evolution but not radical change. I liked Zoe's pragmatic approach to fitting back into society, while still using and valuing skills she learned in that alien society. Zoe has composure, strength and self-confidence no matter the situation, and that was very appealing.

Don't get me wrong, this was not a terrible book by any means. But Chase is one of those authors for whom I have very high expectations. Hopefully the next one will be back on track.

Around the Blogosphere (my state of underwhelm is distinctly the minority)
Katibabs at RNTV
Neesah Allora
Janet at Dear Author
Ana at The Book Smugglers
Carolyn Hughes
Esmerelda at Flutter (a spanking new romance blogger, and since she agrees with me, you should all check her out and watch her for great things to come.)

6 comments:

Jessica said...

I am about 1/3 through this one, and it's not grabbing me. The way you put it, "wrong end of the telescope" is exactly right. I find it amazing that I am getting more character insight about the hero than the heroine, when she has such an interesting back story. We'll see...

Eva S said...

So far I've loved all Loretta Chase's books, more or less. I have this book in my TBR pile and I'm looking forward to reading it, will see how I feel about the book...

M. said...

"Don't get me wrong, this was not a terrible book by any means. But Chase is one of those authors for whom I have very high expectations. Hopefully the next one will be back on track"

I'm feeling a chill of 'oh no' for this book, because that was exactly how I felt about 'Not Quite a Lady'.

Erk!

Betsy O'Donovan said...

> I felt like I was seeing her through the wrong end of a telescope for most of the book. Very little takes place from within her point of view -- what there is, is intriguing, but there wasn't enough for me.

What a great review, Nic. I've been back on the romance bandwagon this week (and am trying to catch up on what was published in the last few months that I need to read and, uh, not read) and I'm loving the depth and clarity of your reviews. Thanks!

Nicola O. said...

Aww, thanks for the compliments. I calls 'em like I sees 'em, is all.

Emmanuelle said...

After reading your post I went straight to my TBR pile and started reading Don't tempt me. I had been totally hooked after reading the 3 first chapters on the harper collins website and had decided to keep the book to bring it on vacation next month. You're right it's very disapointing. No real obastacle, no real drama. It was way to easy for them, and so was Lucien abandonement issue. Not bad at all, still a loretta chase but not as good as I was led to think.

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