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To Taste Temptation by Elizabeth Hoyt

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

To Taste Temptation
Legend of the Four Soldiers #1

Elizabeth Hoyt
Historical Romance
Published in 2008

H/h - Samuel Hatley/Lady Emeline Gordon
Setting: London, 1764.

Read in April, 2011.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5

                                                                     [spoiler alert]

It took me quite a while to connect with this one but now, after more than halfway through the book, I think I'm beginning to like it. The hero, Samuel aka Sam is a nice guy, an American ex-soldier who is tortured by PTSD after a tragic massacre 6 yrs ago. The heroine is Lady Emeline, sister of the one of the soldiers, who was a comrade alongside Sam and died in the same massacre in America. Sam is in London to find out what happened that day. Now, the book has a lot of history of a 1758 massacre, a bloody battle with the Indians. I was never good at memorizing history so, such complex stuff *makes funny face here* is beyond my reach! lolz I tried to glean something out of Wiki since I had no idea about such incident. I won't comment on the real event, just what's in the book.
As I was saying, Sam is in London to investigate what happened that day. He brought his sister Rebecca with him but she has no idea why her brother's here. A lots happening here, the relationship between the brother and the sister. Sam, after their parents died, left Becca with his uncle and his family. Didn't see her more than twice a year. Becca always thinks she maybe a burden to her brother, with whom she doesn't have a close relationship etc etc, which begin to change later in the story.

Then Sam meets Lady Emeline, who's St. Aubyn's sister and a widow. I'll be straight here when I say that at first, I didn't like Emeline at all. She was snappish, snobbish, an aristocrat to the bone. I didn't like that she's aloof with her 8 yr old son. It seemed she's always cranky! Always snapping at Sam and reminding him how low his status is in the London society standard. But, as the story progressed I saw a woman, who actually loved her 1st husband, a young love, who left her alone by dying according to her; she is afraid to feel the same for another man for the fear of losing him, too. Her whole attitude is mostly what she's been born and bred for, an aristocrat to boot and whatever that was drummed in her head from the childhood, along with her hidden vulnerabilities. Although I didn't like her attitude at first, I begin to understand where she stands. And, the glimpse of the hidden woman who wants to be wild, likes to do things just for fun, who wants to dote on her child but can't, is revealed throughout the chapters.

Sam is nice overall but he knows what he wants. And he wants Emeline, even knowing her social standing. Although their views and opinions clash more often than not (ie: Sam's love for moccasins which pisses Emeline off in the beginning), they can't just deny the attraction. Emeline is scared, Sam is determined. So, when Sam hires Emeline to teach Becca of social rapport and stuffs (Emeline chaperons other debutantes in London as well) to make her introduction easier, Emeline at first denies but then gave in to Sam's perseverance. And they came closer. Emeline isn't only attracted but actually likes Sam a lot, no matter how she shows it and her son Daniel, who's named after his late father, is also very fond of Sam. Sam returns the feeling, too.

Here, there are a lot of twists. One is, Sam thought, another soldier, Jasper aka Viscount Vale, was involved in the betrayal. But, it is soon revealed that he wasn't. Then the two set out to investigate together. One soldier, Thornton gave them some clues. Though they don't trust the men, they still sought out the few men who survived that bloody day and, found all of them dead; killed or by suicide. Along the course, it is also revealed that Vale is Emeline's fiance, although their understanding isn't official. Emeline knows Vale since childhood. She doesn't love him but wants this marriage of convenience for the reasons I've already mentioned. Sam is angry, he didn't expect that but he can't stop himself from wanting her.

At present, they're attending a house party. They came here to talk to one of the men but found he committed suicide. Both men are sad, frustrated and depressed. Sam likes to run for miles ... I don't know how to explain it ... maybe from his demons of the war. There were scenes, him running through London streets at night to get away from his PTSD (an incident in the war is related to this running). So, after this set down, he ran and made his feet bloody while Vale drank himself to stupor. Emeline takes care of Sam and they kiss. But Sam pushes her away because he thought she's doing it out of pity. From then on, they couldn't deny it anymore and becomes lovers later.

I don't know if I should be angry for I don't like it, even if it's the h/h, to cheat/betray thus. But, this situation of theirs is really complicated. Sam keeps asking Emeline why won't she marry for love and passion and was kinda set that he'd make her understand how it can be between them. The love scenes were kinda like that, Sam dominating her mostly. The last one (that I've read), Emeline actually felt very vulnerable and exposed by the intensity of it. It's actually quite understandable. She always was in charge with her husband (possibly), never lost herself like this. She never took another lover, not even Vale (who is a known rake BTW). I have to see where all these lead to.

Now about the secondary characters. I love reading Melisande, Emeline's best friend, who's a spinster. Love her cynical view of things and sly wit. She's very smart, sometimes more so than Emeline IMO. It's like, the fact that men don't find her attractive enough (too brown!) doesn't bother her at all. She's mocking them always in her own way. There is something about her reminds me of myself. She's the heroine of the next book which I'm really interested to read. I like Daniel, Emeline's son, a sweet boy. Also, Tante Cristelle, Emeline's older, spinster aunt who helps Becca alongside Emeline. Last but not the least, Becca herself. I really like her and her obsession with the gorgeous Irish footman O'Hare. Yah, at some point I wanted these two to be the h/h of the story lolz. But I'm very interested to know how things far between them because I found their interactions very sweet and honest. :)

Ehh, where do I start? This book went downhill since the moment Emeline decided Sam wasn't good enough for her, no matter what he does! Really????? I mean yah, I get it you're an aristocrat silly twit but I thought you'd change but nooooo! He had to fight, almost get killed twice if I might mention- onetime by Vale, the other time by the villain, to get your 'approval'! I mean c'mon woman!!

I was so damned pissed off that even after everything, she decided to go through with the marriage to Vale, whom she thinks as a brother, hello?! Poor Sam, I did feel for him. The guy was already in love with her. He fought and raged and tried to make her see reasons, then almost gave up. But, couldn't entirely. I say you should've Sam, she's such a vain, shallow pain in the a$$!! Would it make me look bad if I say when the villain kidnapped them (Emeline and Rebecca), it seemed they might've gotten killed, I actually was hoping that Emeline gets killed. There, it's out! Now I feel great. Call me whatever you like but I want my heroine to be smart, the one who isn't afraid to conquer the conventions, fall in love quite dizzily with her hero and have their HEA. Not someone who is so chicken, it wasn't 'til the last chapter that she decided she wanna have a life with him, while on the other times she made excuses such as: the social status, him being a colonial (even for a colonial Sam is very rich, a self-made man FYI), a life in America (would she or not), her so-called independence, whining they always leave me alone, even to if them colonials have adequate bathing system or not! OMG!! Stupid b*tch! It's not as if she was a debutante or something ... I was agape for the last 6/7 chapters of the book, was rolling my eyes and berating Sam and asking WTF? She cried during the last love scene thinking this would be that 'one last time' (by then her and Vale's engagement was already announced and Vale and Sam fought) and show him how much she 'loves' him. Yah right! Sadly, I didn't fall for her show of 'devotion' for him.

I still like Melisande, she is definitely smarter and more enjoyable than Emeline. I hope she stays that way in her book. Vale, who's supposed to be her hero, didn't impress me at all, specially all his show of fiance-ish attitude (after showing none for forever it seems) by beating and foul mouthing Sam was just too much. I wanted to kick his arse, moron!

I wish there were more scenes between Becca and Gil, the footman. I'd rather read those than that twit's stupid excuses! Not much for them except that she wanted Sam to give Gil a job in America. It's not mentioned what happened to them.

After reading The Serpent Prince or just The Princes Trilogy in general, I found this book to be simply a mediocre venture by EH. Lord, I really really hope the others in the series aren't like this one, the heroines specially. 3.5 stars, and I'd always think Sam deserved better.

PS: I really loved the fairy tale "Iron Heart", I wish there was a book somewhere so that I can read the whole story. Have to check out. It seems, more fairy tales ahead in Ms. Hoyt's books, she loves this quite a lot. This story was another reason why I gave this book 0.5 more whereas before, I wasn't sure if I'd give it a 3 or not.


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