Rating: 4.5 Stars
Length: 381 Pages
Formats: Paperback, Kindle
Sexy Brain Candy
Sophie Dempsey is the black sheep of her family. In other words, she's generally honest and law-abiding; a straight arrow among a long line of con artists, swindlers, and crooks. She and her younger sister Amy, the former juvenile delinquent, have arrived in the small town of Temptation, Ohio to film a short movie audition tape for a former Temptation resident and Hollywood one-hit wonder, but it doesn't take long for her to sense that the supposedly simple assignment in the bucolic town isn't going to be quite as painless...or law-abiding as she'd hoped. When the gorgeous mayor Phin shows up to question them about the film's intentions, her fears are confirmed.
Phin Tucker comes from a long line of city mayors, and after his father's death while in office, he fell right into line, though his idea of a good day is just being left in peace to run his bookstore and play pool. But Tuckers don't loose, so when the city council starts to blow up about a possible porn film being made in Temptation, Phin and the town sheriff Wes drive out to the film site to take a look around. He wasn't expecting Sophie Dempsey. She's uptight, vicious-tongued, devil's candy. And man, does he want some of that candy.
Giving in to his sweet tooth, though, stirs up all sorts of insanity in town, and suddenly a calm, easy life is full of accusations, controversy, attempted murder, sex, and death. Life in Temptation has never been so complicated. Or so damn hot.
I really enjoyed this sexy little romance. I'm a Crusie fan, but I only stumbled upon her books within the last year or two, and some of her earlier books are a bit too dated for me. Despite being over a decade old, however, Welcome to Temptation wasn't likewise afflicted. Instead, it instantly rocketed to top position among my favorite Crusie books, with a fun blend of quirky small-town craziness, tons of weirdly wonderful characters, and a bunch of smoking sexuality.
The story is a total romp; a little wicked with a lot of humor, and both Sophie and Phin are completely likable. In fact, I liked Sophie even more than I liked Phin, and I very rarely feel that way about female protagonists. The way she stood up for herself, the way she took care of her siblings, and the way she didn't allow a shady past and a childhood trauma turn her bitter were all very appealing. That she was cautious and had some hangups, was believable. That she was willing to embrace...um...lets call them new experiences...was heartening, a little endearing, and funny. And I thought she acted with honor in situations that made being honorable a struggle.
There were also plenty of solid, three dimensional secondary and ancillary characters in Welcome to Temptation who I liked and loathed as intended. I adored Phin's precocious daughter Dillie; she stole every single one of her too-few scenes. The low-key Wes and the protective reprobate Davy were also favorites. They all filled out a plot that had a surprisingly robust depth with an impressive number of plot threads. Between the porn, the cheating spouses, the political maneuverings, the family tensions, the dead guy, the murder attempts, and of course, the romance, just about everything but the kitchen sink was tossed in and woven together in a surprisingly cohesive tale that was saucy and sexy.
I had some problems with a few aspects of the conclusion, not the least of which was the completely unsatisfying consequences for a character who deserved serious jail time...and a prescription for strong anti-psychotics. And though they were ancillary characters, the relationship between Rachel and Leo hit my ick meter and I never quite got over feeling Rachel's desperation was largely unattractive and her behavior off-putting. That was disappointing, because I liked her input in various parts of the book. Fortunately, the few issues I had were a relatively minor piece of the whole.
Welcome to Temptation was a great way to spend some time. There were so many strong points and good things in this light, entertaining story, and it has stood up well in the eleven or so years since it was written. Lots of fun times can be had in Temptation, OH, if you're looking for some sinfully delicious brain candy. And don't forget to stop and gawk at the water tower, either.