Season For Temptation, Theresa Romain's debut Regency about a hero torn between two sisters? She asked, and caught me with an open mind. I have to say, while I had issues, this might be one of my quickest reads on record. And given that I've been mired in a reading slump for over a month? Yeah, that's kinda a big deal.
Julia Herrington is very close to her stepsister, Louisa, so she is very excited when Louisa returns from her first London Season engaged! To a Viscount no less! For a country-raised girl this is quite a coup. Now the Viscount is coming for a visit, the house is in a tizzy, and Julia manages to step in it rather promptly. With a habit of running off at the mouth, and running after her younger half-siblings, Julia manages to stumble in on James, that is Viscount Matheson, who has arrived early. And is standing in their drawing room. And drat it all, but he's the most captivating man she's ever laid eyes on. Uh, and he's engaged to her sister.
James feels like he's been hit by a whirlwind when he meets his future sister-in-law, Julia. She's so bubbly, and full of life, and probably the most interesting woman he's ever met. She's forthright, refreshing, and his fiance's sister. What was her name again? Oh yeah, Louisa. Dear, sensible, intelligent, poised Louisa. A wee bit of a step down in his social standing, but just the ticket to gloss over a rather nasty scandal his older sister unwittingly became embroiled in when her useless husband died. Yes, yes - Louisa. So why can't he stop thinking about Julia?
As unsavory as this probably sounds (and it did to me), the author writes the story in such a bubbly, frothy way that even hard-line love-triangle haters will be charmed. It helps that the author goes the sensible route with Louisa. Yes, she's engaged to the Viscount, but one gets the impression very, very early on in the story that there are doubts there. It's not like she's upstairs in her bedroom scribbling Louisa, Viscountess Matheson over and over again in her Trapper Keeper. Also while there are immediate sparks between Julia and James, there is quite a bit of tap-dancing going on. In other words, he's not debauching her in the broom closet in Chapter 3.
This is the sort of cotton-candy concoction that's perfect for the holiday season. Julia's family is full of eccentric personalities. James isn't easily overwhelmed. There's lots of banter flying around. It's not exactly a deep read, the conflict being a bit thin in spots, but it is the sort of book where I easily flipped the pages and lost myself for a few hours.
Unfortunately, it did lose some traction for me towards the end. Namely, when Julia and James consummate their relationship. After all the fluffiness, the sex just seemed jarring. Also, the fall-out of said naughty times really strains the seams considerably. Julia's mother's reaction to the deflowering is jar-dropping, and is the sort of anachronism that would send several historical romance readers I know into a swoon. (Plus, Mommy Dearest tells Julia a story where the lesson seems to be "It's OK to trap men into marriage to get what you want" O_o) That said, it does push the romance forward, and the resolution to the love triangle is wrapped up well.
In the end, this was a quick read for me that found me at the right time. After spending all of October in the Reading Slump From Hell, I inhaled this book in one sitting. It was sweetness and light just when I needed it most. It's not the sort of book that I clutched to my chest and sighed over after I finished the last page, but it kept me engrossed and entertained during the time we spent together. Imagine what a better world this would be if we could all say that about our exes?
Final Grade = C+