Friday, 28 September 2012

Too Tempting to Resist by Cara Elliott

Too Tempting to Resist (2012) (Grand Central Publishing)
Cara Elliott
Grade: B-
Genre: historical romance
Sex scenes: shy of hot
Source: NetGalley
Lords of Midnight: (1) Too Wicked to Wed; (2) Too Tempting to Resist

Widowed Lady Eliza Brentford is nearly at the end of her tether with her younger brother's wastrel antics. All Harry wants to do is spend and gamble away money they don't have, give his liver a cause for concern with his excessive drinking and accumulate as many notches on his bed post as possible. With the notorious Gryffin Dwight, Marquess of Haddan as an idol, it's no wonder that Eliza is worried for the future of their family home. With a few more commissions in her work as an illustrator, Eliza will have finally saved up enough money to buy a small place of her own that she so desires, but until then, she'll have to live with her brother's debauchery with no way of stopping him.

Gryffin Dwight’s infamous past might precede him, and he might be guilty of playing up to his reputation to satisfy the hungry Ton, but the truth couldn't be any more different. In his private life, Gryffin is a huge … nerd. His interest is in botany and has written several academic texts on his specialist subject. When he is offered an invitation from the young Harry, Lord Leete to visit his country estate for a weekend of depravity, Gryffin would refuse but for the allure of the estate’s famous gardens ... not to mention the temptation of Lord Leete’s luscious sister …

After first encountering Gryffin in a brothel, Eliza’s second meeting with Gryffin is no less impressive on her part: she’s stuck up a tree. The two are drawn together by an attraction that neither can deny but their respective secrets see their alternate identities continuously clashing until it can remain a secret no longer …

I really liked this book. It's my first Cara Elliott and I wasn't disappointed. I've heard her books mentioned several times in different places and she's always someone that I've wanted to try. I figure that I would have probably enjoyed it more if I had allowed myself the leisurely time to read it as the book deserved, but with a 48-hour timeline before the Galley would become unavailable on my laptop, speed-reading was the only choice. It wasn't a chore to read and it didn't hurt that the cover is gorgeous.

Eliza is a cool heroine. She's brave, will do unpleasant things to try and save her brother from a life of ruin and has established for herself a respectable trade, despite the fact that it's a life-or-death secret. Her first marriage may have been an arranged one in which she had no say, but she’s determined to make her own way now that she’s gained her freedom with her husband’s death. I love her independence and how she’s comfortable with her sexuality. She’s not afraid of starting an affair with Gryffin and the way their first sexual encounter started is brilliant!

There’s always much debate amongst romance readers about what terms should be used to describe the hero’s penis. The things that I’ve read over the years both in books and in discussions on romance forums have been fantastic (Heroes and Heartbreakers have brilliant complementary posts on how to describe penises and vaginas), but I’ve never read such a discussion in a romance novel until now … Here is Eliza describing Gryffin to her friend, Augustina:

"Tall, with divine muscles and the most beautiful eyes in Creation." A sigh slipped of its own volition from her lips. "And he has a large dragon-"
"Is that what you young people call it these days?" interrupted Augustina. "In my time, some gentlemen referred to their privy part as Abraham's Rod."
Eliza's eyes widened. "How perfectly dreadful. That doesn't bode well for him believing a female should enjoy the act, does it?"
An unladylike chortle. Which was one of the reasons she loved her friend
"It was also called a pizzle, a prick, a potato finger," confided Augustina. "And a pump handle"
Oh, she liked that. Haddan had quite a lovely pump handle. One that made her wish that she were a wanton tavern maid, whose duties included frequent trips to the trough in order to fill her bucket ..

Eliza’s frankness is wonderfully refreshing. 

The botany element was fantastic. I’ve said before that I like to learn from what I read and Too Tempting to Resist is a wonderful example. Emma in Nora Roberts’ Bed of Roses was a wedding florist, but while that was great for the wedding porn, I don’t really recall learning very much about flowers themselves. From ox-eye daisies meaning ‘patience’, to daffodils symbolising unrequited love and peach blossom representing ‘I am your captive’ (little dubious about this one and google is giving me different answers), Too Tempting to Resist offered me a whole new perspective beyond my existing knowledge that yellow roses mean 'friendship'. Now, if only I could remember them all ...

I'm desperately intrigued by Gryffin's best friend, Cameron Daggett. He's a walking mystery and clearly the most tortured of the trio of friends, even though I haven't met the hero of book one. The synopsis for Too Dangerous to Desire sounds great and it's another book that I'm going to be stalking NetGalley for.

It may not be a keeper, but Too Tempting to Resist was a good read while it lasted. It was great to see a regency heroine do something other than go shopping or practice her needlework all day, and Gryffin’s geeky side was definitely something to treasure.

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction

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