Lost in Temptation by Lauren Royal
(Penguin, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-451-21592-3
Alexandra Chase first met Tristan Nesbitt when she was eight years old. As a close friend of Griffin, Alexandra’s older brother, Tristan made many visits to their house. Alexandra had a crush on Tristan and he never seemed to notice her. At fifteen Alexandra’s heart was broken when Tristan moved to Jamaica.

Seven years later, Alexandra and her two younger sisters have never had a Season. Yearly deaths in their family – mother, father, and oldest brother – have kept them in mourning. Now Griffin is the head of the family and is determined to marry off his sisters. Alexandra has always done what is expected of her. Which is why she plans to accept the proposal of a man her brother wants her to marry.

Or that was the plan until Tristan walks through the door. After seeing Tristan again, Alexandra knows she can’t marry anyone else. She’s still in love with him. Even though Tristan loves her, he refuses to marry her or anyone else. Society suspects him of murdering his uncle, who died quite suddenly. Tristan inherited his uncle’s estate and title, which is interpreted as motive. Secretly, Tristan thinks he might have done it without knowing. Tristan sleepwalks and the next day never remembers what he’s done.

One night Tristan sleepwalks into Alexandra’s room and seduces her. After Griffin finds them in a compromising situation, the two must marry. Alexandra can’t be happy though knowing she’s ruined her sisters’ chances of making good matches. Sure that Tristan didn’t murder his uncle, Alexandra sets out to discover who did.

My favorite part of reading a romance novel is the falling in love part. I get to live vicariously via the characters through the excitement, the butterflies and the pure romance of falling in love. Unfortunately, Lost in Temptation has none of that for its characters. The love between Alexandra and Tristan is too matter of fact. The reader is told Alexandra and Tristan love each other. As a teenager Alexandra loved Tristan and seven years later as an adult she still loves him. He loves her. End of story. There’s no relationship built between them. The fact they haven’t seen each in years is an opportunity for them to find love and romance together. That opportunity isn’t utilized in Lost in Temptation.

The characters don’t inspire caring in the reader. Alexandra is a “perfect lady” in attitude, deportment and character right up until Tristan returns. Then she throws over her “perfect lady” instincts and judgments after she discovers the joy of a good kiss. Readers are supposed to believe one good kiss is going to change a lifetime of behaviors?

Throughout the entire book, Tristan is convinced that he’s killed his uncle while sleepwalking. It didn’t matter that Alexandra, Griffin, their sisters, and Tristan’s staff assured him that he didn’t do it. He’s determined not to get close to Alexandra because she’ll leave him. Tristan’s angst, that “I’m-not-worthy-of-love” attitude and his refusal to look at the situation rationally is grating. I wished he would just get over himself.

In addition to my issues with the characters and the romance, I guessed who killed the uncle. All in all, I didn’t find Lost in Temptation worthy of a recommendation.

--Terry Lawrence

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