Review number: 56
Stand alone/Series: Book one of new series called Legend of the Four Soldiers
Summary: EVEN THE MOST REFINED LADYLady Emeline Gordon is the model of sophistication in London’s elite social circles, always fashionable and flawlessly appropriate. As such, she is the perfect chaperone for Rebecca, the young sister of a successful Boston businessman and former Colonial soldier.
CRAVES AN UNTAMED MANSamuel Hartley may be wealthy, but his manners are as uncivilized as the American wilderness he was raised in. Who wears moccasins to a grand ball? His arrogant disregard for propriety infuriates Emeline, even as his boldness excites her.
TO RELEASE HER PASSION…But beneath Samuel’s rakish manner, he is haunted by tragedy. He has come to London to settle a score, not to fall in love. And as desperately as Emeline longs to feel this shameless man’s hands upon her, to taste those same lips he uses to tease her, she must restrain herself. She is not free. But some things are beyond a lady’s control
But quelle surprise, I very much enjoyed To Taste Temptation!
Samuel Hartley is an American who has made himself a very rich man in trade. His official excuse to be in London is to do some business ( to set up the import of Wedgwood pottery) but he has a secret mission: a few years ago while still a scout in the colonials army pretty much his entire regiment was killed by Indians and he is certain their location was given away by one of their own – he believes that the someone who betrayed them is still alive and well in England and he wants to find who he is. He has brought his sister along and he finds that the perfect opportunity to mingle with society is to have Lady Emeline Gordon to chaperone her – Emeline is a widow, a respected member of society, one that dictates rule and fashion. She has a young son whom she loves dearly and she is engaged to her good friend Viscount Vale – a former member of Samuel’s regiment and suspect numero uno.
Samuel is a honourable, heroic yet very flawed man. A very complex character: at the same time , a product of his age: selfish, self-centred who doesn’t really notice his sister and what she needs from him. But also someone who defies convention by wearing what he pleases (moccasin and leggings), doing what he wants and by being attracted to Emeline’s intelligence. Once he realises how they are good together, how they share a mind, he is relentless in his pursuit.
Emeline on the other hand is a woman bent on upholding propriety even at the expense of her own happiness – she is a mixture of intelligence and fear. Fear of losing the ones she loves like it has happened to many times in her life: her brother, her husband and her father. Above all she is one that knows her place in the world, in society and what is expected from her. She is scared of falling in love with Samuel: of losing another person she loves, she is scared that he will see who see really is and how she is deep inside improper , because she does feel attracted to such a different man .
It felt very real that a woman of her time would feel this way, so even though I felt , a s woman of the 21st century, impatient for her playing around with such a good man’s feelings, still I could understand that given the historical context, this would be most accurate.
This is one the reasons I preferred To Taste Tempation to The Raven Prince: both Emeline and Samuel were much more believable characters (even with the moccasin wearing) with thoughts and gestures I believe to be much more appropriate to the time in question. In The Raven Prince ,a lady becomes a secretary and later disguises herself as a prostitute so that she can sleep with her boss and that is to me, a more unbelievable scenario than that of a lady who was cold and stuck in her own petty little beliefs of her own grandeur but which was so very fitting to the period.
I very much liked Sam. He was a Good Hero. I loved how he fell in love so fast with Emeline even though he knew she was above him the eyes of society – he tries not to, but it is already too late. He also starts an uneasy relationship with Vale who becomes his ally in searching for the traitor while at the same trying to steal the man’s fiancée – but all is fair in love and war.
On a more serious note: I liked that both men suffered from post traumatic stress disorder after coming back from the war. Vale was an interesting secondary character as was Emeline’s best friend Melisande – as I read the book I had the feeling they would be paired off in a sequel. I wasn’t wrong.
With regards to the sex scenes Elizabeth Hoyt is famous for: kudos to the writer, they are boiling hot and she gives it as it is, no “throbbing manhoods” here – she is crass, she is crude, all the more surprising and ballsy given that historical novelists usually give in to body parts euphemisms when writing sex scenes. It may not be to everyone’s taste but I enjoy reading them .
Probably not the most original of stories (I dislike immensely the serialised fairytale that opens each chapter) and I may have rolled my eyes once or twice, both at Sam’s eccentricities (jogging in London circa 1764? A bit too much) and at Emeline’s stubbornness at keeping propriety and her prejudice against the colonials (even if true to her social background), but in the end I felt this was a rather satisfying read. I will be reading more on this series.
Notable quotes/ parts:
I like the part when Emeline is still bent on not having anything to do with the “colonial” but already knows what she is missing:
Samuel had looked at her and really seen her. He was the first and probably the
last in her life to ever do so. And what was more miraculous , he’d not recoiled. He’d seen her awful temper, her unwomanly strength of mind, and he’d said they were good. No wonder she still mourned him. Such complete acceptance was intoxicating.
Still, she was a fool.