Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Temptation City by Lyric James

TITLE: Temptation City
AUTHOR: Lyric James
PUBLISHER: Samhain Publishing
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 17k)
GENRE: Contemporary erotic romance
COST: $2.50

In a last ditch attempt to discover how local mobster Joey Kinesta is laundering his money, Jalen Spencer is about to go undercover as a stripper at Temptation City. He doesn’t want to do it, but that’s as much about how he wants to believe owner Ashia Forrester is innocent as it is his reluctance to strip down to his g-string in front of a room of strange women. That’s the job, though. Just like getting her to trust him is. Too bad everything between them is based on a lie…

Okay, I’ll admit it. My number one reason for buying this book was the cover. I don’t normally fall prey to gorgeous artwork – and I’ve definitely seen some stunning covers that I had no desire to buy – but I saw this, and I saw that man, and I saw that it was an author I actually enjoyed in the past, and my credit card was out faster than you can say, “More, please.” I even looked past the whole stripper thing, even though it’s been done a million times. The excerpt was competent enough, so why not take the plunge?

Ah, famous last words.

It doesn’t start out badly at all. The prose is fairly simplistic, but it’s clean and easy to read. There’s reasonable UST in the beginning, too. Jalen’s audition is pretty hot. But it never really grows from there. The undercover plot to find the money laundering is never fleshed out well enough for me to invest in, other than for Jalen to bemoan what he’s going to do about lying to Ashia. He’s very hot and cold when it comes to her, and when she gets frustrated and angry at his behavior, so did I.

I lost sympathy for her when I discovered she’s an idiot. See, she walks in on Jalen in her office, after hours, and he’s sitting at her desk, looking at her computer. Personal records. Business records. One of her employees – a stripper she has only recently hired – is going through the boss’s files. What does she do? She never calls him on it. There’s a brief attempt at interrogation, but as soon as he apologizes for his most recent hot/cold act, she seems to completely forget what she walked in on, and Jalen is never held accountable for it. So when she finally discovers the truth and gets all hurt about being deceived? I feel zero sympathy for her. She deserved the lies by that point.

I’m not going to touch on Ashia’s propensity for tears in spite of the fact that she's supposed to be this so put together businesswoman. Or the fact that Jalen’s orgasms seem to literally start in his soul. Or the fact that the entire chapter where Ashia gets her big confrontation to discover the truth and discovers her brother is turning state evidence against his best friend is less than a thousand words long.

At least the cover is pretty.


7/10 – Mostly clean prose, but fairly unsophisticated


6/10 – Hot, but characterization is too shallow for more


4/10 – Any woman who doesn’t immediately fire an employee for breaking into her personal computer deserves to be fooled.

Entertainment value

4/10 – The UST in the beginning wasn’t enough to carry a dumb heroine or shallow storytelling

World building

6/10 – Details are too scanty to provide any real sense of danger or place



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