Ballantine, $6.99, ISBN 0-8041-1981-3
Historical Romance, 2004
Let’s get the good news out of the way first: the characters in Nicole Jordan’s latest effort don’t irritate me that much because they aren’t major braindeads like the horny zombies that populate the author’s recent efforts. On the other hand, I strongly suspect that they don’t irritate me because they are too busy lying on their backs. Or shagging sideways. Or upside down. Or left. Or right. With accessories. Take away the energetic couplings however and I get a very underdeveloped story with very derivative treatments of commitment-phobias and other tired ways to prolong the couple’s conflict.
This book is start of a new series revolving around a group of overheated erections playing British spies based on the island of Cyrene. When one considers the amount of time these men and women spend answering the call of duty by furiously waving their flags as a royal salute, the name of their covert organization, the Guardians of the Sword, takes on a new meaning altogether.
Our British Intelligence hero Max Leighton slept with our Guardian heroine Caro Evers, whom he believed was a pure and noble healer. Caro was an agent however but she had to keep her identity a secret from him. That was a year (and a hundred orgasms) ago, and today, Max cannot get Caro out of his mind. He is delighted when she shows up in London to ask for his help. Her best friend Lady Isabella Wilde is missing, presumably kidnapped, and she and Max will have to head down to the Algiers for some exotic outdoor sex and… oh yes, save Lady Isabella Wilde.
Max is a typical hero tormented by bad dreams about his sojourns at That War while Caro is the usual heroine whose ideas of honor can inflict on the couple some unnecessarily inconvenient moments. Under any other circumstances, I suspect that Caro will really irritate me while Max will bore me with his stock action hero personality and baggage. But Nicole Jordan substitutes character development and emotional bonding with love scenes. While Master of Temptation isn’t as raunchy as, say, a Susan Johnson book when it comes to the number of love scenes, around one-third of this book consist of love scenes. The length and number of such scenes cause the underdeveloped state of the characters as well as the half-baked treatment of the external conflict to stand out even more to this reader.
Heaven knows that I enjoy books with plenty of love scenes, but in the case of Master of Temptation, the love scenes stand out for all the wrong reasons. Apart from the love scenes, the rest of the story doesn’t stand out to impress or irritate. In short, there’s nothing in this book that makes any impression on me if I take away the love scenes. I am not worked up in one way or the other to really care. This book is just a throwaway fluffy read for a few hours of harmless spicy entertainment – an appetizer rather than a filling main course, so to speak – and I suspect that it isn’t meant to be anything more than that.