My Lady's Temptation
by Denise Hampton, historical (2002)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-81548-6

Poor Denise Hampton. She got stuck with a second-hand art on the cover. The art, you know, the sickly looking ocher creatures on the cover, came from Gayle Callen's My Lady's Guardian, and to add insult to the wound to the ego, the art's still as ugly as the rat's backside it was more than a year ago.

Anyway, yeah, yeah, the story. Okay, I kinda like the characters - they are nice and sweet, while the villains aren't the usual shade of ugly. But dang it, My Lady's Temptation is as slow as an intoxicated sloth on a lazy day. Tempt me to sleep, maybe.

The unfortunately named Josce FitzBaldwin is the hero. This is a medieval romance, so our hero, as usual, is one literal bastard bent on vengeance. It must really get crowded out there as our hero jostles with the gazillion vengeance-bent bastard knightly romance novel heroes roaming the countryside for space.

Since this is a medieval romance, our heroine is the poor Cinderella of all trades in her own house, serving her father and brother while putting on a sad face. Hi Elianne. She wishes to join the nunnery, but we all know what's in store for her.

Elianne's father is the one our hero is after. You never see that one coming, huh? Elianne's father is a baddie. Surprise, huh? (Well, what, you expect a romance hero to be wrong?) But what's surprising is that Daddy Evil isn't your average psycho. He's actually... sympathetic. Nice.

The plot is mired in a rather hard-to-elaborate murder mystery, so I won't try unless you want me giving plot twists away. Let's just say our two lead players find themselves shackled together against what seems like a thousand people out to get them.

The problem is, the author seems to spend more time playing with the secondary characters, giving them depths rarely seen in villains and secondary players in most romance novels. So much so that Josce and Elianne come off smelling like empty cardboard boxes, bland as dry crust. And there are pages and pages and pages of words, but all are thoughts and ruminations and mental angst that they tire me at the end of the day. I have to fan myself and ask aloud, "Have the voices in my head stop babbling yet?"

There's nothing really wrong with this story, apart from the really, really slow pacing that challenges my ability to keep my increasingly heavy eyelids open. And since I'm trying to read this book in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the Chinese New Year preparations (spring cleaning, repainting, shopping, trips to arrange, food to order from the caterer, et cetera), it's like banging my head against the wall. Half the time I lose track of what I am reading and has to backtrack the last few pages again.

In short, My Lady's Temptation is all about the snores.

Rating: 69

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