Title: Tempted by Her Innocent Kiss (Pregnancy & Passion #3)
Author: Maya Banks
Format: Mass Market Paperback & eBook
Publication Date: March 6, 2012
Rating: 3 out of 5
I am a big fan of Maya Banks. She’s an extremely versatile and prolific writer who publishes romance in numerous genres, including historical, romantic suspense, category, erotic, and contemporary romance. I’ve read most but not all of her books, and I’m always amazed that she’s able to write so many different stories that manage to draw the reader in so well. I particularly like her category romances, because she’s very adept at taking familiar tropes and making them fresh and new. I loved the first two books in her Pregnancy & Passion series for Harlequin’s Silhouette Desire line, so I was thrilled to see the third book available for review on NetGalley. Unfortunately, the hero and heroine just didn’t work for me this time, but the book is still better than many category romances I’ve read recently, so if you’re a fan of marriage of convenience stories, this might be a book you would enjoy.
Devon Carter is a successful businessman who works with his three closest friends constructing and managing resorts. When he’s approached by the owner of a large, family-owned company about merging their companies, the owner of the company suggests that they make marriage to his daughter, Ashley, a secret condition of the deal. Devon objects to keeping the conditions secret, but once he meets bubbly, beautiful Ashley, he has no other objections and agrees to pursue and marry her.
Ashley is bowled over by the sophisticated Devon, and she falls head over heels in love with him. She’s a successful businesswoman of 23, but her family is highly protective of the charming, effervescent young woman. When she discovers on their honeymoon that her father arranged her marriage to Devon as part of a business deal, she’s devastated but quickly determines to work to save her marriage. But the cost of being who Devon wants her to be is too high, and we’re left wondering if he’ll learn to appreciate the treasure he’s got before she slips away.
The main problem I had with Tempted by Her Innocent Kiss is Ashley. Frankly, I found her really annoying. Everyone loves Ashley, because she’s so charming and bubbly, but she’s also impetuous and flighty, traits that Devon points out to her early on (and isn’t THAT a charming habit you’d want in your husband). I was a little disturbed that she was so eager to change who she was in order to save her marriage, especially after her husband and father had deceived her. She does wise up later in the book and decide that she’s had enough, but I just didn’t understand why a successful businesswoman (and really, how successful could she be at 23?) would be willing to change her personality for someone else. However, I COULD find it believable that a 23 year old would do so, and that someone so sheltered would react as she did, which is why I didn’t completely discount her character.
I never could get a grasp on who Devon was, though. Frankly, he comes off as a bit of a jerk, especially since he criticizes the parts of Ashley’s personality that everyone seems to like the most. It left me wondering if he really did love her or only married her because of the merger. At one point we’re told that his family life growing up was bad and that he had to work his way to where he is now, but that was the extent of the background information about him.
There were sparks between Ashley and Devon, but because of the difference in their personalities – he’s straight-laced, she’s a free spirit – I kept wondering how successful their marriage would be. The resolution attempts to address this somewhat, but I felt it was a little too late to save the rest of the book.
Overall the book is well written, flows well, and definitely draws you in as a reader. I suspect that my annoyance with Ashley’s being so bubbly and perky says more about my personality (I’m cranky and hate perky people?) than it does about the book. As I stated earlier, if you like category romances that feature a marriage of convenience, I think you would enjoy Tempted by Her Innocent Kiss, because the focus of the book is how Ashley works to create a successful marriage. Unfortunately Devon doesn’t participate in the process until too late in the book for my taste.