Tempt Me Twice
by Barbara Dawson Smith, historical (2001)
St Martin's Press, $6.99, ISBN 0-312-97949-5

Hmm, if this author publishes as Barbara Smith alone, I'd have thought her middle name is Cliché. Of course, there are good clichés and there are bad clichés. But where do I classify those that are just plain forgettable?

Kate Talisford, responsible daughter of criminally absent-minded academic daddy, has been in love with adventurer/rogue Gabriel Kenyon like, well, forever since she was 16 and she threw herself to him. He tosses her out as fast as she throws herself at him, and ooh, the embarrassment. That's the prologue. Four years later in 1812, Kate is now an orphan trying to rebuild her old home. Guess who becomes her guardian but Gabriel. Or so Gabriel says. Another man, Sir Charles, also claims to be the guardian. Confused, Kate decides to trust the more sober Charles only to learn, almost too late, that Charles was behind the death of her father. A priceless statue is the reason for all the nonsense.

Frankly, a lot of the nonsense in this story would have been avoided if Gabriel will just open his mouth and T-A-L-K to Kate about the threat to her life. But no, our hero here expects Kate to blindly obey him without him telling her anything. Our heroine, naturally, doesn't do that.

But more importantly, this story is really, really, and I really mean really predictable. I can actually second-guess our familiar Arrogant Hero and Headstrong, Reckless Heroine's antics and dialogues and motivations. Of course, she will do it all for Daddy. Of course, he will not marry and doesn't believe in love. Of course when he loves her, she doesn't believe it and vice versa. And on and on to the point that my eyes just get heavier and heavier and zzzz...

I hate to say this, it's like rubbing sulfuric acid salt on the author's wounds, especially as Connie Brockway is Ms Smith's critique buddy and all, but Connie Brockway's high romance and adventure As You Desire is a much better take on archaelogy, roguish adventurer heroes, and dreamy heroines. Tempt Me Twice doesn't even tempt once.

Rating: 56

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