Sean Delaney is desperate to help his sister secure a divorce from her ne'er-do-well husband, John Hamilton. Hamilton got her pregnant when she was just fifteen, and then promptly ignored her for his art and his numerous paramours. But he will only agree to the divorce if Sean will help him dupe his dying uncle by pretending to be him. His uncle wants to get to know him before he dies and leaves him his title and fortune. Hamilton selfishly wants to spend time with his married lover while her husband is abroad, and cares nothing for his uncle. He also has another bargaining chip to coerce the reluctant Delaney: if he won't cooperate in his scheme, Hamilton will force Dierdre to live with him until she bears him a male heir, raping her if necessary. Of course in the eyes of the law, it wouldn't be rape. Sean has little choice but to agree to the plan.
Corinna Chase's brother has been pushing her to marry, but she simply isn't interested. Art is her passion, and her dream is to have one of her paintings accepted for the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition. She's at the museum sketching statues when the two men surprise her by approaching her and introducing themselves. Color-blind Sean discovers he needs Corinna's help to play an artist convincingly, and eventually Corinna believes him when he tells her he isn't really John Hamilton. They'd rather not be dishonest, but they decide it's best to continue with the ruse because Hamilton's uncle really is a very dear man and they want his last days to be happy ones. As they spend more time together, they realize they're falling in love. But can they overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to be together?
The Art of Temptation by Lauren Royal has a lot of great things nestled within its pages. Readers will relate to Corinna's penchant for cheap romance novels, and will enjoy real quotes from actual Minerva Press novels. Ms. Royal weaves a sweetly spellbinding tale of desire, loyalty, ambition and deception all bound together with an aura of sensuality that makes it impossible to put down. Her characters are crafted in such a way that readers can't help but adore them. The Art of Temptation is a truly splendid read from start to finish. This is the first of this author's books that I've read, but it certainly won't be the last.
4 1/2 Kisses, 1/2 Pepper
Reviewer, TwoLips Reviews, LLC