Willig, Lauren. The Temptation of the Night Jasmine. New York: New American Library, 2009.
ISBN-13: 978-0451228987 | $15.00 USD | 501 pages | Regency Romance/Contemporary Romance
After 12 years in India, Robert, Duke of Dovedale, returns to his estates in England with a mission in mind– to infiltrate the infamous Hellfire club to unmask the man who murdered his mentor at the Battle of Assaye. Intent on revenge, Robert never anticipates that an even more difficult challenge awaits him, in the person of one Lady Charlotte Lansdowne.
Throughout her secluded youth, Robert was Lady Charlotte’s favorite knight in shining armor, the focus of all her adolescent daydreams. The intervening years have only served to render him more dashing. But, unbeknownst to Charlotte, Robert has an ulterior motive of his own for returning to England, a motive that has nothing to do with taking up the ducal mantle. As Charlotte returns to London to take up her post as Maid of Honor to Queen Charlotte, echoes from Robert’s past endanger not only their relationship but the very throne itself.
In the series
After the perfection that was Crimson Rose, Lauren Willig appeared to become more confident as an author, not only paying homage to her favorite authors and tropes, but finding ways to put new spins on them. She mentions in some of the “behind-the-scenes” supplemental material bundled with the paperback that this book was a tribute to Judith McNaught and her “innocent (but always erudite!) heroines and her charmingly embittered heroes.” (
But while I still maintain McNaught wrote the exact opposite of what I like, especially in terms of her heroes, Willig’s characterization of Robert, Duke of Dovedale is a subversion of this common trope that I do really like. He hasn’t let the persistent immorality of the world around him tempt him to join in its depravity or to believe nobility is a lost cause.
I did find Charlotte a bit less compelling, especially on the heels of such a layered heroine like Mary, and also in comparison to her much more engaging friends, Henrietta and Penelope. I did feel for her with her complicated, unrequited (as far as she knows) feelings for Robert, especially as he’s trying to keep her at arm’s-length while he pursues his quest for vengeance.
I did find the mystery elements pretty engaging, especially given they involve the Royal Family, George III and Queen Charlotte, and a few of their children. I believe this was my first real exposure to the extent of King George’s state of health, as my primary knowledge prior was only of his final permanent loss of faculties in 1810 that led to the Regency period. And the way it involved nefarious people trying to take advantage of his vulnerability was intriguing. And the way it also tied into Robert’s activities, as members of the Hellfire Club were pulling off the coup, was a nice way of pulling it all together.
Eloise and Colin’s arc was a bit frustrating, although not as much as some of the earlier books. It was cool to see them in the early stages of their relationship, especially with her interacting with some of his friends and neighbors officially as the Girlfriend, including the annoying Joan Plowden-Plugge. I did find this one misunderstanding a bit much this time around, but I also think it wasn’t as grating as some of the assumptions Eloise had made prior, although at the same time there should have been more of a semblance of trust to the point where she should have just asked instead of snooping and jumping to conclusions.
While not my favorite in the series, it’s definitely one of the better ones upon revisiting. I’m so excited for the live event on my birthday (despite being terrible and somehow managing to miss both of the previous ones), and encourage anyone who has (re)read this recently or plans to soon to register!
Lauren Willig is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty works of historical fiction, including Band of Sisters, The Summer Country, The English Wife, the RITA Award-winning Pink Carnation series, and three novels co-written with Beatriz Williams and Karen White. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, picked for Book of the Month Club, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best, and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association’s annual list of the best genre fiction. An alumna of Yale University, she has a graduate degree in history from Harvard and a JD from Harvard Law School. She lives in New York City with her husband, two young children, and vast quantities of coffee.
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