by Maya Banks, contemporary (2009)
Heat, $15.00, ISBN 978-0-425-23069-5
The story of Julie Stanford and Nathan Tucker actually kicked off in the author's previous book Sweet Persuasion. I'd strongly suggest that you read the previous book for that reason as well as for other reasons I'd bring up later in this review.
Julie, our heroine, knows how to give a good massage. After all, she's a masseur. When Nathan first showed up as a client, she was thrilled to get her hands all over that hot hunk, but alas, not only was he determined to resist her various invitations for a thorough full body massage session, he kept playing hard to get that poor Julie was left wondering what was wrong with her. All that happened in the previous book.
In this book, she's determined to move on from Nathan. If he still wants to pretend that he's immune to her charms, so be it. She'd find someone else more receptive! She'd live out her wildest sexual fantasies and forget about Nathan! But first, she'd give Nathan a bye-bye oral service. Yes, you read that right.
Of course now that she's stopped dropping hints, he's finally interested enough to play with her seriously. How like a man, I tell you. Julie is determined to move on from Nathan, but conveniently enough for Nathan, her sexual fantasy involves her being blindfolded by having sex with two men at the House, the one-stop sex fantasy stop that links the books in this series together. Guess who shows up with his friend in tow to give Julie the time of her life. However, love may have to wait, as these two will find themselves roped into the soap opera between Gray and Faith (see Sweet Surrender).
Sweet Seduction (talk about confusing, heh, I have to double check to make sure I'm referring to the right book) has a more "meaty" plot than the previous two Sweet books, but the "meat" comes from Gray and Faith's subplot. There isn't much in Julie and Nathan's story line to stretch across 300 pages, which probably explains the prominence of the Faith and Gray subplot. Serena and Damon from the previous book are also featured prominently, but it's Faith and Gray who have pre-wedding ceremony issues here.
And there lies the reason for my dissatisfaction with this book - there is too much of the main characters interacting with the secondary characters and not enough of the main characters having time for themselves. I'm disappointed in this, really, because I like Julie. Any heroine who isn't afraid to explore her sexuality rather than waiting for the man to notice her is alright with me, and I especially like heroines who aren't afraid to ask the guy to if you seek Amy, if you know what I mean. Nathan is a more typical hero, but Julie isn't a typical heroine, and I'd have loved to read more about them. As far as I'm concerned, Gray and Faith have their story done and over with, so the subplot of them having all kinds of issues that turn out to be not that serious seems too much like filler to me. As for Serena and Damon, I'm convinced that these two aren't the same two people that starred in Sweet Persuasion. It is as if having found true love had magically erased any unorthodox sexual kink these characters may have, sigh.
On the other hand, the sex scenes are still hot enough to scorch. I don't know how Ms Banks does it, because by this point I've seen enough of her tricks of the trade, but she still has me going oh mama mia. Let's just say that I read the first threesome sex a little more closely than I normally would. Seriously, this is one book where I would have preferred that the author pad things up with sex scenes instead of soap opera scenes involving characters from previous books. Yes, not enough sex scenes is another reason why I'm not too excited about this book. Does that make me a shallow and depraved person contributing to the decay of romantic literature? If you seek Amy, buster.
Sweet Seduction is a readable book, but because of the prominence of secondary plots involving characters from previous books, I'd strongly suggest that you start with those previous books if you are new to the author and would like to give her books a try. It's not that new readers will be confused by this book, it's that if you have no prior knowledge or emotional investment in these secondary characters, their story lines would probably bore you silly. Also, those previous books have more hot sex scenes - always a good reason to pick up a book as any if you ask me. Sweet Seduction feels more like a "halfway" book, one that serves as a bridge between books rather than a complete book in itself, and it's probably best treated as one, to read as part of a series rather than a standalone book. In a series, there is always a weak link of a book, and so far this book looks to be the weak link in this series.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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