Julia Herington is overjoyed when her stepsister, Louisa, becomes engaged—to a viscount, no less. Louisa’s only hesitation is living a life under the ton’s critical gaze. But with his wry wit and unconventional ideas, Julia feels James is perfect for Louisa. She can only hope to find a man like him for herself. Exactly like him, in fact…
As the new Viscount Matheson, James wished to marry quickly and secure his title. Kind, intelligent Louisa seemed a suitable bride… Until he met her stepsister. Julia is impetuous—and irresistible. Pledged to one sister, yet captivated by another, what is he to do? As Christmas and the whirl of the London season approach, James may be caught in a most scandalous conundrum, one that only true love, a bit of spiritous punch—and a twist of fate—will solve…
The cover of this book is a pretty good indication of the level of historical accuracy to expect: none. If the title had been different, I would have assumed this was a contemporary romance. Silk negligées in 1817? You’re kidding me.
I have a problem here: I’m a big fan of this author, but I didn’t like this, her first book, at all. Now, usually you’re going to come across a book from a favourite author that just didn’t work for you, but this situation is different. It seems that in this particular situation, the author was so in awe of a few wallpaper historical writers of Regency fluff that instead of trusting her own (excellent, unique) voice, she tried to emulate theirs.
Big mistake. It got her published, but the historical inaccuracies, the American slang, the childish characters, the total lack of respect for the social mores of the time… please don’t read this book and then think it’s an indication of the author’s talent. Because it isn’t.
Season for Temptation opens with our hero, James, Viscount Matheson engaged to the sister of our heroine, Julia Herington. However, the moment he meets his fiancée’s sister he realises he might have been a bit too hasty choosing a wife, that he might have made a mistake.
We are faced with a heroine so young and immature it was a little difficult to deal with. She isn’t even “out” yet and seemed more at home playing with her younger siblings in the nursery than considering marriage.
The heroine’s immaturity aside, it was a good premise (and one I can get through without feeling too sorry for the other woman, as she’s the heroine of the next book), and I liked the characters. It was a nice change to meet a cast of people who didn’t use being “tortured” as an excuse to be unkind.
But yes, I had so many issues with this one.
Issues such as the use of modern dialogue like this:
“And he probably kicks puppies, too.”
“I suppose it isn’t as bad as all that.”
“I would not care to see your animals, and you know it.”
“Actually, if she is too much of an evil cow to you.”
Some issues are repeat problems I’ve noticed in the author’s other books, and I’m actually really surprised nobody has done anything to fix them yet. I question historical romance editors who clearly don’t know the first thing about Regency manners – or London!
The big one is that the social customs are All Wrong for the time period. We have a heroine who greets and farewells everyone with handshakes. HANDSHAKES! *Nobody* shook hands in Regency England. That is as out of place as Julia running around kissing everyone on the lips would have been! It’s not the only liberty taken with social mores; another is all the casual touching going on. A man would never devote so much time to hugging and holding hands with his fiancée’s sister. He would never casually stand around with his hand on or arm around her shoulder.
In fact, people in 2014 wouldn’t be this physically familiar with a fiancée’s sister!
As I said, I had a huge issue with the way the characters spoke. There was so much contemporary American slang coming out of the characters’ mouths (lame for “bad”; antsy, stupidest, minefield, chic for “fashionable” – this term was not in use then). While I wouldn’t usually class Romain’s books as “Wallpaper Historicals” – she often has plenty of depth to go with the fluff – this one is. Gotten popped up so often it was giving me a headache, and the past participle of spit should be spat!
I think this is much more of a problem in this one than in her later books.
There was a sex scene stuck in at a very odd point in the book – I guess there “had” to be one somewhere and the story was already winding up. It was very risky, very out of place for the characters and the time period. It also read disturbingly like a man deflowering a silly child.
Why did all the ladies share the one maid on loan from their aunt?
The casual “who cares?” attitudes everybody had about the possibility of an unmarried pregnant girl of the aristocracy were so far from the reality of the times I had to put the book down for a few minutes.
Additionally, the author makes the same mistake here that she did in the last book of hers I read: referring to all of London as “The City” (capitalised). The City of London is a very particular part of London, the Square Mile that serves as the financial and business district. You simply cannot refer to the capital as a whole that way, and certainly not to the part of town these characters are meaning when they say it.
I’ve seen Julia Quinn’s name mentioned numerous times in relation to inspiration for this book. I can see similarities, and so I have some advice to up and coming writers: Do Not use Julia Quinn for your historical research. Just DON’T. I recently came across a similar problem in another first book by another author: she was such a fan of Lisa Kleypas that she’d given her characters the same names and physical descriptions! I know many people are inspired to pick up a pen (or, uh, keyboard) when they read a good book, but copying someone isn’t going to work.
Season for Temptation is a contemporary romance with American characters who happen to be in early nineteenth century England and wearing frilly dresses. It’s so far from Romain’s best you’ll think a different person wrote it. If you’re going to try this author I’d recommend trying something else. Specifically, I’d recommend her May release: To Charm a Naughty Countess. Something where she was brave enough to stand on her own two feet and write something good, rather than this homage of sorts to wallpaper authors. Romain is a much better writer than that, and a much better writer than this book would lead you to think.