It's really a disservice to call Megan Hart just an "erotica writer." Oh sure, she writes hot sex. The kind of sex that peels wallpaper. The kind of sex that would cause my father to stroke out if he knew what I was reading. Erotica, at it's core, titillates. That's part of it's "job." Megan Hart's erotica, at least for me, is not about titillation. It's about relationships, how people behave within those relationships, and how those interactions change over the course of the story. Sex is a catalyst.
Anne Kinney adores her husband, James. They have a great life together. In love, with an enjoyable sex life, and a house on the lake, they are the couple that has it all. Then, one day, James gets a call from his old school buddy Alex Kennedy. After spending years in Asia making a gazillion dollars, Alex has sold his company and is headed back to the states. The plan is to spend a few weeks playing house guest at the Kinney home, but when Alex arrives with his smooth charm, infectious smile, and flirtatious manner, one thing leads to another. Soon Alex is sharing their bed, and complications ensue.
Menage a trois in the erotic romance universe have become so common place that they're giving Greek billionaires, virgin heroines, and secret babies a run for their money. The problem I have had with many of these books is that they use the menage a trois for titillation purposes only. Human beings are emotionally messy creatures. Sooner or later, no matter how hard we try, we are unable (or unwilling) to keep our emotions in check. We aren't machines. No matter how many times we say, "it's just sex" or "let's just have fun" - sooner or later someone mucks up the works by thinking and feeling too much.
Which is what happens in Tempted.
Anne truly believes she has the perfect life with her husband. It's not until Alex shows up, stirring the pot, that she realizes that no, it's not. Anne has spent her life trying to make everything better for everybody else. She wants to "fix" everything and everyone. Whether it be her shrewish mother-in-law, her drunken father, or her three sisters, all of whom have divergent personalities. It's Anne's job to put the shiny finish on everybody's lives. To make it all look perfect, even though it's anything but.
Tempted is the story of how Anne changes once Alex enters her life, how it effects her marriage, and how it effects her relationships with the other people in her life. If that sounds like a mountain of internal conflict, it is. And for that reason, it also means this book has a slow pace. I adore Hart's writing, and I love how her books challenge me, but this one takes a while to find some momentum. Anne doesn't have her first sexual encounter with Alex until almost halfway through the novel. Certainly some build-up is necessary, but after a while I was like, "OK, any day now." I became impatient waiting for "it" to happen so we could get on to the consequences.
I didn't love Tempted the way I loved Dirty or Broken, but honestly that's just me splitting hairs. Hart continues to use sex to explore relationships, the choices (good and bad) that people make, and how those choices impact lives. I never feel like I'm sleepwalking through a Megan Hart novel, and Tempted keeps that tradition alive.
Final Grade = B+.