Temptation Unleashed
by Kari Thomas, paranormal (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-59578-428-5

Temptation Unleashed was first published back in 2006 by Triskelion Publishing and I'm sure most of us know what happened to that place, heh. This current edition has been revised and expanded, according to the publisher website. I am not sure how much revision has been done in this edition, but it still comes off like a debut effort to me.

Kira Douglas, a witch, has arrived at Sedona, Arizona, to look into her sister's death as well as to take custody of her sister's daughter. You see, Sonia and her husband Kyle died in what seemed like a bizarre magical ritual, with Kyle being burned to death while Sonia apparently ingested enough poison to kill her shortly after. However, Kyle's brother Aiden Calhoun and the rest of the Calhoun clan are not happy with Kira's presence, since they blame Sonia for being this evil witch and assume that Kira is the same as her sister. The Calhouns are a clan of shape-shifters (Aiden can transform into a cougar), by the way.

The two characters have all kinds of textbook angsts that they could very well be kitchen sinks for clichés, but despite having all kinds of issues, they still come off as flat. This is largely due to the fact that these characters aren't just stereotypical, they also go through the motions in a most familiar and predictable manner. In other words, they are generic and unmemorable characters in a paranormal romance that remind me too much of characters in stories of similar kind that I have read before. Also, the author doesn't succeed in presenting a credible transformation of Aiden's feelings from suspicions and hatred to love. It seems here that all Aiden needs to change his feelings is an "innocent" face and some hot sex. The characters are forgettable and their romance is not convincing.

By the time the villain is revealed, I'm not surprised to discover that this villain is a cackling cartoon character who, of course, blabs everything to the good guys in a show of premature gloating. Subtlety is not present in Temptation Unleashed - the good characters are melodramatically tormented by overblown issues while the bad guys are melodramatically evil to the point of putting Elmer Fudd to shame.

The prose can also be on the awkward side as the author tends to point out the obvious in a way that makes me scratch my head. For example, Kira travels to the site where her sister and her husband died. One would suspect that something must be wrong with that site, but Kira is still surprised to discover black and sinister aura enveloping the site. Gee, who would have imagined, huh? And then, Kira has a shocking revelation. The black aura... it must represent... Black Magic! Amazing deduction, Sherlock. Is it the color of the aura that gave it away?

The abundance of melodramatically overblown drama in this story provides some moments of campy comedy, but I don't believe this is intentional on the author's part, heh.

All in all, Temptation Unleashed is a standard shapeshifter romance, only with more overblown angst and melodramatic behavior than wise. Even with its revision and expansion, it still has many textbook examples of an average debut effort.

Rating: 56

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