Review: Once She Was Tempted

once she was temptedReviewed by Janell

This Regency novel has a great hook: Ben, the Earl of Foxburn, meets a woman at a dinner party and recognizes that she is the model for a semi-nude, highly inappropriate portrait that is hanging in his study. Daphne posed for two such paintings a few years ago at the request of an artist friend, and her income paid for rent and medicine for her ailing mother. In the previous book (which I haven’t read), Daphne’s sister married a Duke, and so now Daphne is thrust into high society.

Ben doesn’t waste any time confronting Daphne because he believes that she is a harlot and would be ill-suited to marry his friend. Daphne agrees to back off if Ben agrees to help her track down the other painting and destroy it before her reputation is ruined.

Now, Ben is a tortured war hero. He was shot in the leg and has muscle aches, and he sincerely believes that any woman he marries will promptly tire of his physical limitations and leave him. He also has occasional nightmares of battle. In fact, I was reminded of a lot of contemporary heroes who have returned from Afghanistan.

Sidenote discussion: do all contemporary military heroes have PTSD from Afghanistan? Is it respectful and realistic or is it stereotypical and pandering? The answer, of course, is it depends, right? Depends on how thoughtful the writing is, and whether the hero is cured with reflection and therapy or with a magical vagina. Anyway, back to this story…

Whatever Ben’s opinion of Daphne’s past, he helps her, which means he spends time with her and notices, “She look[s] like spring and daffodils and lemon cake.” (Any analogy to cake is a win for me.) She is light for his darkness.

Since she nursed her mother for so long, Daphne fancies herself a sort of healer, and aims to help Ben’s leg with massages and poultices. And that scene where she massages his leg? Ben’s discomfort is palpable, it’s not all about sexual tension, except of course then it is all about sexual tension. By confronting and soothing his physical wounds, Daphne metaphorically confronts and soothes his emotional wounds, as well. She does not cure him either way, but gives him coping mechanisms and, for the first time, hope.

The characters had great chemistry, and their discussions of why they couldn’t be together were fun, tortured, and believable. The plot about the second painting was suspenseful, and its resolution was dramatic and brave. The romantic resolution was nice, although Ben’s “a ha!” moment seemed to have been skipped since he went from “we’re through” to “nevermind” pretty quickly. But he was hot and sexy and tortured so I didn’t mind.

Overall this was a compelling story with delightful characters. I would have liked more togetherness in the middle, more secret happy times to crank up the heat (I’d rate it 2.5/5), but that didn’t put me off. If you like Regencies, you should definitely check this out. And if you don’t, you could give this a try because there aren’t a lot of typical ballroom or sitting room scenes. It’s good for everyone!

Rating: B+

*ARC Provided by Forever

Click to purchase: Amazon

Once She Was Tempted
by Anne Barton
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Publisher: Forever

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