Midnight Temptation
by Dee Tenorio, contemporary (2006)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-59998-245-5

Dee Tenorio' Midnight Temptation is a simple story. One may even be tempted to describe the story as "vintage Harlequin", as a matter of fact: the boss wants the secretary real bad. In this case, Raven Remington, brother of the hero in the previously related book Midnight Sonata is now the CEO of Remington Medical Industries and he's just discovered an unexpected perk, the secretary Vanessa Kaye. But Vangie has all kinds of worries that see her relenting just enough for the ever-popular Just One Time affair. I'm sure you can predict what will happen to Vangie after that Just One Time. I did say "vintage Harlequin" earlier, didn't I?

The problem with this book is that Ms Tenorio has set in motion a story where it is only as long as it is because the main characters, especially Vangie, are making huge mountains out of molehills. I'm not saying that overused plots are complete no-no when it comes to writing a story, just to make this clear, I'm saying that there is clearly a problem when many of Vangie's insecurities can be easily solved if she has any common sense or at least any idea what she really wants in life.

For example, Vangie wails that she can never, ever have a child and therefore she is afraid of having relationships with men. I find myself thinking that if she is really serious about not wanting children, then for heaven's sake she can jolly well go get her tubes tied and then she can take on all the lovers she wants without any worry. Protection against diseases is, of course, a different matter altogether. But no, Vangie acts like it pains her to even contemplate sleeping with Raven - although, of course, she wants to, she really wants to - it's as if this silly woman is still stuck in the 1800s.

Vangie spends the whole time saying that she wants Raven but oh, she has so many reasons why she can't have him or be with him, but come on, we all know she'll end up with him and then playing the blues come the morning, so Vangie is pretty much just testing my patience in this story. She keeps saying she can't, she won't, she mustn't - sometimes even acting like she will melodramatically pine away if she goes to Raven and just as melodramatically pine away if she doesn't - but since Vangie can and will, she comes off like a twit who doesn't know what she really wants and is just protesting too much.

Raven has some issues with love but while his issues can be on the stereotypical side, at least he doesn't come off as flakey as Vangie. Also, sex seems like a fun thing for him, as it should be, unlike Vangie whose reaction after sex is constant regrets and guilt party for one. Needless to say, Vangie is a very effective moodkiller when it comes to the sex scenes. She's just a horrible emotional mess who cannot figure out what she really wants, she just loves to whine and protest all the time. Vangie's first reaction in the morning after what is supposed to be a night of great sex is to moan that she really shouldn't have done that again, yadda yadda yadda, because it was supposed to be One Time Only, blah blah blah. Can you believe that? I suspect that Vangie must be lobotomized some time in her childhood days. I say we revoke Vangie's right to have sex and force her to wear a Barney the Dinosaur costume whenever she appears in public for the rest of her life.

I can find things to like about this book, of course, and I'm pretty sure Raven will be a fun hero if he has a different name and a different heroine. However, the heroine is a very big obstacle to my enjoyment of the story. Also, the plot increasingly strains my patience as it lumbers along because Vangie's insecurities and irritating emotional hysterics can be solved if someone sits her down and tells her that (a) she can have relationships with men if she doesn't want to have a baby - for heaven's sake, get those tubes tied if she doesn't trust birth control, and (b) she likes sex as much as the next person since she's always having it with Raven so she may as well grow up and stop acting like a baby. Ms Tenorio makes a mistake in allowing Vangie's neurotic killjoy antics to go on for too long for so little good reason, I'm afraid.

Rating: 61

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