Megan Hart – "Tempted"

23 Jan

GENRE: Erotic Fiction
PUBLISHED: Harlequin Spice, 2008

The back blurb:
“I had everything a woman could want.
My Husband, James. The house on the lake. My life. Our perfect life.
And then Alex came to visit.
The first time I saw my husband’s best friend, I didn’t like him. Didn’t like how James changed when he was around, didn’t like how his penetrating eyes followed me everywhere. But that didn’t stop me from wanting him. And, surprisingly, James didn’t seem to mind.
It was meant to be fun. something the three of us shared for those hot summer weeks Alex stayed with us. Nobody was supposed to fall in or out of love. I didn’t need another man, not even one who oozed sex like honey and knew all the secrets I didn’t know, the secrets my husband hadn’t shared. After all, we had a perfect life. And I loved my husband.
But I wasn’t the only one.”

Like Dirty and Broken, Tempted is about a woman in a crisis. It’s the story of Anne and she says about herself:

I played at being perfect, too. The perfect daughter, the one who took care of everything. Who had everything. The house, the car. The husband. Everything bright and shiny.
And yet, like my sisters, I, too, failed at being perfect. I didn’t have children to resent, or an image of myself to uphold, and I didn’t secretly care desperately about being liked. No. I had a perfect life. Car, house, husband, shiny.
But how could it all be perfect when I wanted it to change? (p. 196)

and about her relationship with her husband’s relatives:

Typically, Jame didn’t notice the superficiality of my relationship with his mother and sisters, and that was fine with me. It was all fine with me, that veneer. The shiny reflection that kept anyone from seeing what was underneath, the eddies and currents and depths of the truth. It was, after all, what I was used to. (p. 16)

At the beginning of Tempted, Anne’s also the kind of person who buys stuff because she can’t stand to disappoint the salesperson (p. 132). Hart tells the story of a woman who, over the course of a summer, learns more about herself. Her quest for perfection and being nice gets challenged after she, for once, acts on what she wants and then has to deal with the consequences. At the end of the summer (and the novel), a lot has changed. In some way, Anne has started to grow up (abandoning her nice-daughter behaviour and starting to assert herself). She also has learned something about perfection.

There are a lot of things to talk about in Tempted. Everything seems to matter and, this being her story, is often related to Anne. This “make everything relate to each other” made my little heart happy-happy. But (you could hear this coming), in connection with the other characters in this novel, I sometimes thought it too much. Anne has three sisters, and each one has a problem which mirrors and serves as contrast to Anne’s life and problems. It’s the same with her mother. So there is a lot going on. It’s made story more complex, but it also meant that I sometimes couldn’t see these other characters as more than mere foils for Anne. Then trow in, for example, a correspondence between the story and the weather, and I ended up with the feeling that too much of “waving the flag” was going on.

But, despite all this flag waving, there’s one thing that feels unresolved. And that’s James, Anne’s husband. Anne I understood because she’s the narrator. Alex I understood because he reminded me of the bad boy hero in romance novels. James I didn’t really understand. His character is kind of “hazy” (and that might be because Anne didn’t seem to understand him). But then, and this is again another side, Tempted reads in some ways as a comment on reality and romance novels conventions. For example, there’s Anne’s distinction between “choosing to fall in love” and “falling in love” and how it ties in to perfection and the two men in her life (and that’s as far as spoilers go).

This being “erotic fiction,” Hart uses, among other things, sex as a way to illuminate characters and to advance the plot. She looks at the (emotional) consequences of sex for her characters which makes sex more than mere titillation in her stories. Anne’s “acting on her wants” has consequences. Hart isn’t afraid to look at and show the messy side of things, sex or life in general, and for that, her stories work for me.

Just looking at the paragraph about the triangle between Anne, James, and Alex, I think it’s clear that there is much you could talk about in this novel. Then there are Anne’s relation to her mother-in-law and her own family. So, nitpicking about too much flags aside, novels like Tempted make my little heart happy-happy.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Yes

Grade: 4+ / 5


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: