Harlequin Temptation, $4.50, ISBN 0-373-69228-5
Contemporary Romance, 2005
Leslie Kelly’s aptly titled Her Last Temptation is the last Harlequin Temptation you will ever read, not counting those Best of reissues that Harlequin intends to release in the future. Don’t worry that the world would now be a darker place without our usual barmy sex-mad virginal-neurotic librarians, Daddy’s Girls, and secret soccer moms bent on having sex to assert their new found independence – or something – because the demise of the Harlequin Temptation line is more cosmetic than tragic. Starting from July, Harlequin Blaze will become bigger and more packed with barmy sex-mad virginal-neurotic librarians, Daddy’s Girls, and secret soccer moms faster than you can say “Sex sells in the Bible Belt!”
Cat Sheehan is one of the four people whose lives are tangled up with the bar called Temptation. Now that the bar is in its final days due to its impending demolition (apparently the town council folks feel that a new highway is more important than a supposedly historic watering hole – go figure), Cat is looking forward to the future with maybe some trepidation. Because she was once a free-spirited woman who have had lovers in the past, she feels that it is now time to become a typical romance heroine. She will go back to school, maybe, but most importantly, she will become a very good girl and give up bad boys. And just as she is making her resolution, in walks a long-haired handsome rocker dude Dylan Spencer, who is back in town and into her life. You know, I’m pretty sure that I have seen this long-haired rocker dude who plays in small town circuits on the recent American Idol season. Dylan has some secrets, the most important being that he had been infatuated with Cat since high school when he was a geeky kid.
This story should be sexy but there is really no good reason why those two characters don’t hit the sack and generate enough electricity to kick start a new power plant in Kendall, Texas. So Ms Kelly tries to put in various reasons for supposedly good foreplay interruptus, among them Dylan’s inability to tell Cat that he has been interested in her for a long time now, which leads Cat to assume that he is singing with his heart on his sleeves in his songs to another woman. Also, Cat has this fear of people abandoning her, Dylan has several reasons to keep his secrets, and on and on. After a while, the obstacles forcing these two people from performing bedroom acrobatics begin to feel increasingly more contrived as the story progresses. Add in the fact that Dylan starts playing silly games with unnecessary lies and Cat deciding that she needs a fling – don’t groan, you must know she would come to that decision, surely – and this book ends up being a pretty dull story of much ado about nothing, just two silly people doing tiresomely silly things in order to prolong the story. Cat may insists that she’s not the usual simpering ignorant virgin determined to have sex or die in a typical “sexy” category romance, but while she may have a more upfront and realistic attitude about sex compared to the other twenty-something contemporary heroines, her actions in this book aren’t too different from those ninnies.
Maybe it is appropriate in a macabre manner that a generally mediocre line ends with a book that epitomizes what the line could have been and what the line generally ended up being.
This book also comes with seven pages of autographs from some of the authors of this genre. They’re good for a laugh, especially when one of them gets carried away and starts thanking Harlequin for allowing her to write about “strong, sexy role models” to show female readers “the way”. Darling, oh please!