Hope Tarr's Tempting was published in 2002 by Jove and now Hope has self-published Tempting for .99 cents on Amazon. This is now my favorite book by Tarr set in the Victorian era with a Jewish hero who becomes a very rich and powerful man and falls for a poor, country girl who was tricked into forced into a brothel.
Simon Belleville blames himself for the rape of his sister by two men when they were teenagers. His sister's mind became broken because of it and she lives in a fantasy world. Simon is a self made man of important and is the head of Her Majesty's Morality and Vice Commission and raids brothels. On his recent raid, he finds a bruised and sick young woman locked in the attic. Christine left the countryside and came to London to find work after her nasty cousin tried to rape her. Christine was trying to find honest work, but Simon doesn't believe it. He believes she's been abused and possibility violated. He goes against everything and takes her into his home to recover. Something about Christine makes him want to protect her, so much so he'll pay for her schooling so she can learn decorum and proper etiquette and perhaps get a job as a governess. But Simon can't remain separated from Christine for long because he misses her. He takes her to his country estate where she learns the truth about the real man hiding behind a mask he shows the world.
Tempting is a must read for any historical romance fan. It has an almost old school romance feel to it with Simon being older than Christine by fifteen years and how he likes to control the situation in a somewhat highhanded manner. But Hope has a nice twist regarding Simon, in that he's a combination of a beta-alpha whose entire protective instincts come out in regards to Christine who after all she's been through doesn't cower in fear. The buildup of tension and attraction between these two are well done. There's only one love scene, but WOW, it's hot and steamy.
Tempting is all about being true to one's self. Christine isn't ashamed from where she has come from and Simon may hate his poor roots and almost rejects his heritage, but he loves his step-father who saved his mother and his sister from living on the streets. Simon is a man with wonderful principals you can't help but admire, and he needs someone like Christine in his life.
Tempting gets an A- from me and one that's staying on my keeper shelf. Seriously, the price for Tempting is quite the steal. Buy it now.