Bride Included

Christmas Fantasy


Private Pleasures

Ready-Made Bride

Seduced by Janelle Denison
(Harl. Tempt. #811, $3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-37325911-5
Until Janelle Denison's Seduced appeared on my end-of-the-year reading list, I was afraid that my romance reading year was going to end with a whimper. Thanks to her wonderfully entertaining story featuring characters who are bright, funny, articulate and caring, my year ended with a bang.

You can't say that attorney Ryan Matthews gives up easily. For over a year he's been interested in Jessica Newman, and he's yet to be deterred by her countless refusals to date him. If nothing else, her reluctance has whetted his interest. These two met in Tempted (HT 799), a story which featured Jessica's sister Brooke and Ryan's friend Marc. Now that Brooke and Marc are married, Jessica wants to give them a party, and asks Ryan if he'll host it.

Jessica knows that she's attracted to Ryan, but also knows that he's the kind of man she doesn't want to become involved with. Her main reason is that he's a divorce lawyer, and she remembers with stunning clarity how a skillful divorce lawyer left her mother almost destitute, and in the process destroyed Jessica's idyllic childhood. She also knows that he's committed to his career and probably won't have the time to spare to establish a meaningful relationship.

So, in a nutshell, she's having problems with his profession, and his seeming inability to sustain a long-term relationship. Factor in that she finds him one grade-A sexy dude who's becoming more irresistible, and you have the framework for Seduced.

Jessica's been able to avoid his pursuit, but she has no idea what Ryan has planned. Now that they'll have to work together to plan the party, Ryan's going to use every weapon in his powerful arsenal to make sure that Jessica realizes that they deserve a chance.

Janelle Denison skillfully and realistically reveals what makes these two tick. Jessica slowly comes to realize that she's allowed her past hurts to shape her life, making her reluctant to trust. That reluctance has caused her to miss out on a lot, but perhaps it's time to trust Ryan. He's certainly sexy enough, and there's no doubt that he's interested.

If Jessica only knew how interested, she might run the opposite way. Ryan is going to take every opportunity to convince her to take a chance on him. And some of the ways he uses are inventive and wonderfully erotic. Imagine being blindfolded as you taste different gourmet cakes, including the ever-popular Better than Sex cake. When Jessica proclaims that it is better than sex, Ryan takes great delight in proving her wrong.

Another erotic scene involves Ryan proving to Jessica that there are more interesting gifts than bath towels. Chocolate-flavored body paint is high on his list of persuasive items. Mercy, getting clean in the bathtub takes on a whole new meaning.

What sets Seduced apart from most romance novels is that these people seem real. They have foibles and are reluctant to commit, but they're both intelligent and for the most part, rate high on the mature-o-meter. Ryan rates higher, but then his character is what makes the book so great. Who couldn't help but appreciate a man who postpones making love, knowing that a woman's mind and emotions have to be as ready as her body before they become intimate.

Any woman who would let Ryan get away, especially after he's made the chase so much fun, would be an idiot. Okay, Jessica's been a bit slow on the uptake, but she's definitely not an idiot, just a woman who is skillfully, wonderfully, gently. . .Seduced.

--Linda Mowery

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