Too Tempting to Resist
Forever / April 24, 2012 / $7.99 print, $7.99 digital
Determined to stop her wayward brother from squandering their dwindling fortune, Lady Eliza Brentford decides to follow him to his favorite den of depravity. There, among the candlelight and raucous revelry, she encounters her brother’s role model in debauchery, the notorious Marquess of Haddan, Gryffin Dwight. Staring into his smoldering green eyes, Eliza can’t help but find the rakehell nobleman seductively charming-and sinfully attractive.
When Gryffin appears on Eliza’s estate as a guest of her brother, a stolen kiss among the garden’s blooms leads to a night of unbridled passion. Suddenly the lovely widow feels herself opening up, like the petals of a rose. Could this master of seduction possibly feel true emotion for Eliza? Or is he leading her down the garden path to an Eden of delights no woman can resist—and a fall no woman can escape?
Some of the best romance novels are not only sexy and sensual but also sensuous, providing stimulation for all of a reader’s senses. Nothing is more sensuous than a delicious meal, and Cara Elliott’s food-inspired sex scenes are, quite literally, Too Tempting to Resist.
The main characters are visual, artistic individuals, and the majority of sex scenes take place outdoors. The heroine, Eliza, is a talented landscape artist who secretly earns money illustrating flowers for books. The hero, Gryff, who is also known as Lord Haddan, is a reformed rake who secretly writes essays on landscape design under a pen name because he wants to be judged based on the intrinsic merits of his lyrical works rather than the worth of his family name.
When Gryff’s publisher shows him Eliza’s portfolio of work, signed with her pseudonym “Linden,” Gryff knows he wants to have the unknown artist illustrate his book. Similarly, when Eliza reads Gryff’s work, she feels inspired by his poetic prose. While their shared pursuits are undeniably complimentary, their appreciation for good food captured my attention more than their shared language of flowers. And by “language of flowers,” I mean that they both studied (and committed to memory) a rare, antiquated book that described the alternate meaning of seemingly every flower in the English landscape.
While the persistent references to the double meanings of flowers bored me, Eliza and Gryff’s amorous liaisons did not. During the first sex scene, the hero gets creative with his tongue and brandy.
Gryff dipped his tongue into the spirits and then touched it lightly to her lower lip. “That should soften the effect,” he murmured.
Eliza hesitated a fraction before taking a tentative taste. Her lashes quivered, stirring a glimmer of gold.
“There, that’s not so bad, is it?”
He wet his tongue again and dabbled a bit more on the rounded swell of flesh.
As she licked off the trace of brandy, savoring the unfamiliar flavors, he watched the play of her mouth, the delicate flick of her tongue showing just a peek of pink. His cock twitched and hardened.
If the alcohol-inspired French kissing wasn’t sexy enough, Eliza also gets creative with a custard tart.
Gryff propped himself on his elbows, his eyes following her finger as she scooped up a dollop of the tart’s creamy filling and filled the dimple in his belly.
“Sweet Lord,” he said, his voice a little unsteady.
Oh, she liked that. With a few playful strokes, she shaped the custard, then leaned down, letting her breath tease against his skin.
Did she dare?
The food references bring a welcome levity to the sex scenes, acting as a sort of verbal foreplay. For example, the sexy custard tarts get a lot of attention. Gryff describes it as “hot and juicy.” Eliza says, “No doubt the warm cream would dribble down our chins, but part of the fun of a picnic is throwing manners to the wind and licking up the excess.” More than Gryff’s stomach responds to her words, and later, when she has a “dab of creamy custard clinging to the corner of her lips,” he licks it off.
The sensuous scenes don’t just depict physical acts, however. They also describe internal thoughts and needs. I particularly liked this description of a sexy kiss:
Dipping her head, she kissed him full on the mouth.
He tasted of apples, that forbidden fruit of temptation. Oh, no wonder females had been seduced into sin. The tart-sweet spice held hints of an earthier, distinctly masculine flavor.
Under her hungry assault, his lips parted, and then their tongues were touching. Twining, twirling, teasing in sensuous play. Eliza hitched closer, reveling in the lush heat flooding her senses. Her body was once again transformed. She was no longer a drab widow, but a sensual sylph, capable of driving men mad with desire.
Because Eliza is a widow, she has a certain amount of sexual freedom not afforded to unmarried maidens of her time, and she’s ready to explore her sensuality.
Sex with her late husband had been a quick, furtive groping in the dark. Her night rail shoved up, his body shoved down in a few hurried jerks, leaving her wondering. Wanting.
She had wanted to respond to her physical stirring, but her late husband had found her eagerness...distasteful. He had made her feel ashamed of her desires. But Haddan seemed to like it.
Eliza’s sexual eagerness is refreshing in a historical novel, and Gryff never judges her. Eliza is actually the more judgmental partner in the relationship, and she constantly accuses Gryff of being a rake. While he might have deserved his reputation in the past, he is beginning to mature and want something deeper in his life and his relationships.
“Perhaps I’m sick of youthful folly,” said Gryff slowly, thinking of the books on landscape design stacked up by his bedside and the unfinished essay on his library desk. “With age comes wisdom...or so one hopes.” He made a wry face. “My birthday was last week, and when a man turns thirty, he is forced to take stock of his life.”
In the end, Too Tempting to Resist has likeable characters, a fast-moving plot, and unique, engaging sex scenes that are deliciously tempting.
Brittany is a freelance writer, aspiring novelist and small business owner who hopes that heaven will be like a bookstore with an endless supply of free books, free coffee and super comfy chairs.