2008, Paranormal Historical (Regency England)
Avon, $6.99, 376 pages, Amazon ASIN 0061373222 Part of a series
Tempted by the Night is the second book in Boyle’s Marlowe series, a paranormal historical series centered around a mystical ring that grants the wearer a wish. I went into this book not expecting a paranormal (it looks like a typical historical), so it took me a little while to shift gears. Once I did, I found a very quick and rather unique read. If I had only liked the heroine more, I would’ve given it a recommendation.
In His Mistress by Morning, the readers were introduced to a magical ring. In this book, Lady Hermione Marlowe finds the ring on the floor, recognizes it as her friend’s and puts it on to give it to her later. For a long time Hermione has been dreaming about the scandalous Lord Rockhurst and doing everything in her power to make him notice her. She buys beautiful orange dresses (because it’s her signature color) and practices striking poses, but whenever the man gets near her, she has a tendency to vomit. While at a party, Hermione and her friends are watching the man in question and discussing a book in which the heroine becomes invisible. Hermione has always believed that the lord’s reputation is falsely earned and she wishes that she could become invisible like the heroine to see how Rockhurst really spends his time. She wants to learn all his secrets and have him learn hers. The next thing she knows a woman named Quince finds her and explains that she will now become invisible from sundown to sunrise and minutes later Hermione disappears.
Rockhurst does have several secrets and when he leaves the party he has no idea that an invisible woman is following him. With his ever-present wolfhound, Rowan, by his side, he heads to the Dials and gathers some information from a brothel madam. He then heads to the back alley and proceeds to arm himself with a crossbow, several knives, a pistol, and his legendary family sword. As he waits for a door between worlds to open, he realizes that he can smell a lady’s perfume near him. While trying to find the source of the scent, a door opens and a creature emerges. Rockhurst happens to know this creature; he’s killed lots of his minions. They talk and there’s a little skirmish, during which it becomes apparent that a woman really is present even if Rockhurst cannot see her. In fact, she helps him by shooting the creature with his crossbow and he’s able to permanently close the door between worlds. His dog helps him find her (she’s been knocked unconscious) and he carries the unseen woman to his carriage, but she escapes before he can discover her identity. Thus begins his search for the woman’s identity and her evasion of the subject.
This was a unique premise and made for a light, fast read. After I finished the book, I thought I’d be giving it a qualified recommendation, but after letting it marinate in my head for a while, I realized that several things bothered me enough to make me reconsider. I expected Hermione’s identity to be revealed soon after Rockhurst found himself able to grab her invisible self several times. After all, he’s a legendary fighter of evil who has special abilities. But despite having many clues and several opportunities, he fails at this. Maybe if Hermione was a clever girl, I’d be more comfortable with it, but she’s quite the airhead. I don’t think I ever liked her. She’s flighty and entirely into fashion as well as spending money that her family doesn’t have (though she has absolutely no taste). It felt as if she should have been a secondary character rather than the heroine.
Because I didn’t like Hermione and because she's invisible for most of the novel, I had a big problem believing that Rockhurst could fall in love with her. He’s able to touch her, which is essential, since they have sex often. I enjoyed the sex scenes, but then I would remember the heroine’s affliction and it creeped me out a bit. Rockhurst can also hear her, but since her conversation is really childish and annoying, I just didn’t see where the spark came from. I would sometimes assume that her thoughts were sarcastic or just her being funny, but then I’d realize that she actually meant these ridiculous thoughts. While it wasn't a huge deal, it did bother me somewhat that both Rockhurst and Hermione don’t hesitate to have sex. It's the early 1800s, they're both from respectable families, he knows that she’s a debutante and that she’s actively looking for a husband. Under those circumstances, I found the physical development of the romance hard to believe.
Tempted by the Night is a quick, quirky read. The invisibility aspect certainly made it interesting and, overall, I enjoyed the author’s style. I’m curious enough to pick up the other books in this series and see if I like those characters better. If the heroine was more enjoyable, this book would have garnered a recommendation. As it is, this story is only slightly better than average.
-- Andi Davis
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