Who’s the sexy blonde stranger sleeping in Simon Holcroft’s bed? The workaholic returns from a business trip to find someone stretched out on his sheets. Between the laundry basket at her side and the smell of orange cleaner, he deduces that the young woman is his maid-and resists the urge to kiss her awake.
But when his brother’s fiancé-his own ex-bursts in and strips down to her panties, Simon has to get her dressed and back where she belongs. So he introduces the maid as his fiancée. But his little white lie gets bigger, because now he has to bring his supposed bride-to-be to meet the whole family. One offer-she-can’t-refuse later, Simon has bought himself a temporary fiancée.
In debt up to her eyeballs and all alone for the holidays, how could struggling grad student Caroline Sampson not accept her gorgeous client’s fantasy proposal? But acting like she’s in love comes more easily than she ever expected.
You know, it’s funny, this week I read two romance novels… well novellas really… both under 200 pages, and they could not be more different. This book was everything a short and sweet romance novel should be. Caroline and Simon don’t instantly meet and become other people. No, they get to know each other and slowly temper one another, smoothing out the rough edges and enhancing the qualities they didn’t even know they had.
Even though Carina Press has a history of surprising me with graphic “peg d goes in slot v, and then back out, and then back in…” (more on that later), “His Secret Temptation” was the more reserved than that other book. Sure, there were some intimate scenes, but they usually had just enough details to paint word pictures, which is really what a sex scene in a non-erotica book should be. I don’t need a scene that is so graphically detailed that I go “seriously, I was done and smoking a cigarette 5 pages ago.” Or the even more awkward “is that even physically possible” where you have to sketch out diagrams and use trigonometry and a protractor and… Well it stops being sexy at a point, trust me.
Then it gets to the strife. You know, that one point in all romance novels where the happy couple ends up not being so happy and drives the plot for the second half/last third/last quarter of the book? Yeah, I gotta admit that I didn’t love the strife in this one. I thought it was a tiny thing to throw such a big kink in their relationship, that it felt contrived, and I was a little insulted as a reader. Until I realized that the strife was just a convenient excuse that the characters were using to mask the real issues. I was more than a little stunned, I’m ashamed to admit, because I made the classic mistake of thinking that romance novels were all fluff.
“His Secret Temptation” had depth that I wasn’t expecting going into a 180 romance novel. I apologize (to the book, yes I’m crazy) for not giving it the benefit of the doubt. It’s just… I’ve been burned by romance novels before… Oh wow, “His Secret Temptation” and I just hit our strife. That’s deep man…
In the end “His Secret Temptation” is 4 stars, except for the price. $4.09 for 180 pages. Don’t get me wrong, I think the book is perfect just the length it is and a great read, but I don’t like paying that much for a novella.
Remember when I mentioned the Carina press sex scene thing? You thought I was going to leave you hanging, didn’t you… Shame on you for doubting. I’m now realizing that any book from Carina Press is probably going to have some sort of graphic naughtiness, and it confused me until I realized something… Move the “I” to the end and capitalize it so it looks like a lower case “l” and….
Carina Press -> Carnai Press -> CarnaI Press -> Carnal Press
CARNAL PRESS!!! Tricky little buggers. (as a note, I’m sure that’s not what they meant, but still, it made me laugh)