To Taste Temptation by Elizabeth Hoyt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
3.5 stars. After finishing this novel, I had the kind of deep, dark depression that occurs when one finishes a beloved author's entire backlist. I've now read everything up through Notorious Pleasures and I can honestly say that Hoyt simply can't write a bad book. In some ways this is perhaps one of the better introductions to Hoyt for a new reader--it opens the Four Soldiers quartet (but I read and loved the others without reading it), and it's not nearly as heavy on the sexy as most of her other books, which makes it a good chance for wary readers to acquaint themselves with her wonderful voice and characterization. Unfortunately, I really like the amped-up sexy that she brings to her historicals, and I spent the first half of the book wondering where in the heck it was hiding. It's hiding because Lady Emmeline and Exotic Colonial Samuel spend most of the book actively disliking and being horrid to each other. It's a time honored trope, and Hoyt puts it to good use, giving Emmeline more authenticity as she simply can't understand life beyond her social circle, let alone Samuel's strange American ways. For his part, Samuel makes absolutely no attempt to fit into proper Boston society let alone London ballrooms--he wears leather pants and moccasins and runs for stress relief. Emmeline fights hard against her attraction to Samuel, revealing herself to be a bit petty. But she's a very real character--I felt like I know women like her, and they are also deserving of their HEA, even if they are just a bit more . . . shallow than some people. When Emmeline and Samuel finally get their sexy on, Emmeline fights so hard against enjoying herself that I didn't connect with the love scenes the way I usually do. Fans of the "I hate you, but I also kinda love you" trope will love this--a number of Eloisa James's novels seem to contain this trope, so her fans may feel right at home here. Readers who prefer to wait for love scenes will also appreciate the more subtle build here. Fans of Hoyt's trademark fast-paced sensuality, however, may prefer Books 2 & 3 in this series which are among her best work.
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