Review: Season for Temptation by Theresa Romain

season for temptationReview by Janell

I’ve had this book on my Kindle longer than I can remember; I think I bought it on Courtney Milan’s recommendation and let it linger for a while. Now that I’ve read it, I can understand its appeal: the characters are upstanding and whimsical, the plot is airy, and the finale is almost Shakespearian farce. Given that praise, I must admit that I found it a touch too lighthearted.

The main plot is this: James is a Viscount whose family is under a cloud of scandal. He decides to find a suitable bride and marry quickly in order to establish some respectability.

He finds a pretty woman at a ball, courts her in an expeditious and businesslike fashion, and becomes engaged. The story opens as he visits his fiancee’s house to meet her family.

Julia is not the fiancee, but the stepsister. She enters the parlor where James is waiting, shouting and cursing in an unladylike manner, and James is delighted by her actions. Julia is pleased to have someone smile at her rather than chastise her, especially since she is the talkative type (“She’d never yet found a conversation that couldn’t be diverted if you threw enough words into its flow.”) During tea, James even encourages Julia to eat more than her share of biscuits. I’ll admit that a man who likes to watch a woman eat biscuits is a man worth keeping.

The dilemma, of course, is that James is engaged to Julia’s stepsister Louisa. Added to that, Louisa isn’t even a wicked stepsister; she’s a very nice girl who simply loves books and hates socializing. She’s not necessarily excited about her engagement, but she sees it as something that must be done, and so she goes along with it. Out of propriety, James goes along with it, too.

The characters all interact during James’s house visit, and then later when the girls are in London to prepare for Julia’s season. Louisa remains polite yet withdrawn, Julia yearns for James’s attention, and James imagines licking Julia’s collarbone. It’s a tale of longing told with a comedic tone.

Louisa’s aunt, Lady Irving, lends a delightful touch as en elderly matron who seems rigid and frightening but underneath has a dry sense of humor. “It’s unladylike to talk about,” she admonishes Julia about prostitutes. “For a young miss, that is. I can say whatever I want.” Lady Irving wears giant ostrich feathers in her turban simply to get other women to dress like her, and she travels with a trunk full of rocks to test the household staff. She’s the type who knows the rules of propriety and knows exactly how to break them.

While James and Louisa mentally prepare for a loveless marriage, Julia enlists their help in finding a man for her. A man exactly like James who isn’t engaged to her sister. This leads to some comedic side characters (“There was nothing wrong with Pellington, after all, that a few more pounds of brains wouldn’t fix”) and an almost-scandal, followed by a real scandal, and then a climax of note-passing that manages to be suspenseful and heartbreaking.

I enjoyed the tone of this book, it was obviously written with care, each word precisely placed to elicit a raised eyebrow or a smothered giggle. It didn’t cause me great anxiety or despair, though, didn’t put my emotions through a gigantic wringer. So for a well-crafted, lighthearted tale, I give it a B+.

Click to purchase: Amazon

Season for Temptation
by Theresa Romain
Release Date: October 4, 2011
Publisher: Zebra

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