21 September, 2012

Review: Lord of Temptation by Lorraine Heath

Hated it. Hated it so much I had to stop 75 pages in and rant. Hated, hated, hated it. And I love Lorraine Heath. From any other author, Lord of Temptation would have hit the DNF pile without regret. From Lorraine Heath I had to struggle on in the belief that surely it would get better.

It did not.

Lord of Temptation is full of weary shortcuts that sketch in concepts  rather than paint portraits of real people. I didn't believe in any of these characters. Our hero is well detailed in my prior rant. He's a pirate captain and a lost lord and the sort of man who thinks of women as prey. Heath attempts to counter balance his creeptastic ways by having him passively take a few beatings and spend a lot of time thinking about what a creepier creep he'd be if not for our heroine's magically attracting ways. Our heroine is 85% social convention adherent and 15% sex positive adventurer. She's the sort of girl who can say things like "Look, I know I agreed to marry you, but five minutes ago I was banging that guy I told you I wasn't into like a shutter in a storm. Let's still get hitched, okay?" After she and her fiance work through that epic moment of truth and arrive on the morning of their wedding she asks him to stand up for her while she marries someone else.  Because it would be good for her reputation. Since I was desperate to like anyone in this novel, her refusal to be a consistent character (unless stunningly self absorbed was the object) irked me. Granted, her fiance doesn't love her but it's still all kinds of tacky from a woman who has already embarrassed the man half a dozen other ways.

My nickname for the hero, The Pirate Stalker, was more apt than I could have predicted when I first applied it. He spends more time thinking about how he usually leaves women, how when he is done with them he just disposes of them, than he does the heroine. Sleeping with the heroine is high on his list. Not having the heroine change him is right up there too. This was the sort of book where the hero spends 90% of his time whining about how the heroine is trapping him with her magic vagina. She wants things he doesn't. In real life we call that irreconcilable differences. In Romanceland it often means they haven't sexxed their problems away yet. So they have at until they do. Compounding my inability to care about this shallow pond is the unrealistic sibling relationship. In the prior book three young boys escape certain death and vow to return for their revenge. They plan their return for ten years out (legally dead at seven, but never mind that). This book resumes events two years after the return. The three brothers are still emotionally estranged, if cordial. This leads Heath to write some truly ridiculous scenes. Tristan (the hero) barges into his brother's Rafe's office (after a two year gap) to demand information on the heroine. Rafe tells him he has a nephew and Tristan is like, ok, cool, so about my question? These men are so far apart that even the news of a child isn't transmitted between them but they can barge in and out of each other's homes without challenge? Later Tristan does almost the exact same thing to his other brother. "Hi, give me what I want. Ok, bye." Whose life works like that?

You can't even cheer on the side characters. The Pirate Stalker has his own stalker, a deluded young woman determined to chain him to her side on the basis of nothing. He refuses her to her face and continually shows preference to another. Of course she steps forward and claims he is her lover. Then, scant pages later, she sits in public, in society, openly, at his surprise wedding where she is easily subdued by a whisper. Her eyes open and she realizes she's been ignoring the man for her all along. Since said man is willing to move past years of deluded thinking and a false accusation of seduction, I suppose she's right. Mental, but right. This is the sort of shortcut plotting that passes for depth in Lord of Temptation. I'm fighting to give the book two stars when I do my Amazon review because there are truly worse books out there, I just don't think Lorraine Heath wrote them. If you're looking for escapist sexxy times 1978 flashback pirate pages, Lord of Temptation is for you. It was absolutely not for me.

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