Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Publication Date: June 28, 2022
Series or Standalone: Unforgettable Love #1
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads – StoryGraph
CW: Domestic abuse; physical abuse; murder; gun violence; mentions of infidelity and death of parents (off page)
Did I pick up this book because the premise sounded a bit like my all-time favorite historical romance, The Duchess Hunt by Lorraine Heath? You bet I did. I only wish it lived up to its potential! The bones of a great story are there, but I had mixed feelings while reading. The story started out great, but around halfway through, the pacing and romance started to feel off-kilter.
Miss Wilhelmina “Mina” Crawford spends her days trying to keep her family’s crumbling estate afloat after being ruined in the eyes of Society years ago. But when her brother challenges the formidable Simon Loughton, Earl of Creswick, to a duel after a game of cards, Mina takes matters into her own hands to secure their future by pretending to be her brother and besting Simon in a swordfight. Simon catches on that she is actually a woman and asks her to be his new secretary as he admires her strength and cunning. While Simon needs a secretary to help him focus on passing a reform bill, temptation lives and works under his own roof – a distraction he doesn’t need. Mina is finally living her dream and on solid financial footing, but falling for the Earl could mean risking it all, especially as secrets from her past can ruin them both.
There are definitely some things that I truly loved in A Matter of Temptation. The beginning of this book was fantastic! I love a girl who can take care of herself and stand up for her family, and Mina is precisely that person. The initial meeting between Mina and Simon was so much fun, and I’m a sucker for a good sword fight, especially when the woman comes out on top. I enjoyed Simon at the beginning as well as I loved seeing this stern, stoic man show his soft underbelly, even if he did feel a bit flat to me at times.
At the book’s beginning, I loved the setup of Mina and Simon’s relationship. The chemistry and romantic tension jumped off the page as Mina became his secretary. I loved how Simon tried to convince Mina he didn’t find her tempting yet contradicted himself with his actions.
However, as the romance progressed and they started acting on their attraction, I found myself wanting more from the romance. The buildup to their first kiss was amazing, but once Simon and Mina got together, the sparks fizzled out for me. In some of the romantic scenes, I felt a bit weird about the power dynamics in their relationship since he’s her employer. I also found things moved at lightning speed once they started acting on their feelings. It was like they kissed, and then the next thing you know, they’re saying “I love you” and willing to give everything up for the other. I wanted a little more romantic development, a little more pining, more getting to know each other on a deeper level before Mina and Simon got to their happily ever after.
Pacing and plotting overall was an issue for me. The second half of the book was really where I started to notice it. A lot was happening in this book plot-wise outside the central romance. I did like the politics at the center of the story, as I’m a huge advocate for women’s rights and appreciated that Simon and Mina were as well. But there were other plot points, like his grandmother picking out his countess, the highway attack, and taking her out to a gentleman club to gamble, that seemed like they were kind of just there? They didn’t add as much to the overarching plot as I expected.
I also thought the whole plot around Mina’s ruination was a bit predictable, and it was resolved way too quickly and easily. The secret related to it had the potential to be the perfect obstacle to add real tension to their relationship and also play into some of the key themes around the politics in the book. But how it resolved failed to live up to that potential.
This book had the potential to be amazing but fell a bit short of my expectations. This is still a decent historical romance, and I loved that it felt like Stacy Reid did her research on the politics, but I ended up wanting more in the end. More pining, more romance, more development. And better pacing.
However, this was still a decent book and one I think many people will love, so I recommend picking it up! I would just grab it from the library or KU before buying it to see if it’s your cup of tea.