by Niqui Stanhope

November 2001
ISBN: 1-58314-240-1
Reviewer Graphic Button Arabesque Books
Mass Market Paperback

What could be more a more romantic setting than warm, windswept Jamaica?! Niqui Stanhope brings us there with vivid imagery and appealing characters in Sweet Temptation.

Artist and heartbreaker extraordinaire, Amanda Drake travels to Jamaica for a little revenge on her best friend’s behalf. Ready and armed with feathers and handcuffs, she sets her sights on Nicholas Champagne, of the rich Jamaican Champagne Shipping – the ladies’ man who broke her best friend’s heart and took away her daughter. But Amanda’s resolve to trample all over his future broken heart (and maybe pride and ego!) slightly crumbles as she observes Nicky’s familial relations. No family man would be so callous as to deny his daughter a mother?!

After being handcuffed to the bed (after being treated to a little feather action!), Nicky decided that Amanda was definitely a psycho (he didn’t think she was so crazy with that feather though!). However, she’s a very pretty psycho… and for months after their meeting, he still couldn’t keep his mind off her. Of course, his family had to meddle, since they love him and all, and his new sister-in-law, Summer, contrived to commission the lovely artist for some paintings for her new home… which happens to sit on the same property as Nicky’s. While doing these paintings, Amanda is invited to live in their luscious property and made to feel like family in no time at all. Can Nicky resist the pretty crazy lady who’s sleeping and breathing a few feet away from him? NOT! He might be in mind those handcuffs weren’t so bad after all….

Ms. Stanhope certainly knows Jamaica inside out! I’m treated to a full-scale travelogue of the beauty of the place – not to mention all that yummy food! I’m surprised none of the characters were overweight! (In a romance novel… nah!) Aside from the exotic locale, the characters of Nicky and Amanda are strikingly beautiful, inside and out. Despite Amanda’s original intentions, she’s a reasonable and sweet person who is smart enough to know that Nicky isn’t the bad guy that her best friend, Sheila, painted him to be. Still, she avoids him like the plague – Amanda is a loyal friend and no matter what, Nicky is one complication she’d rather steer clear of. Nicky, on the other hand, wasn’t put off at all with the handcuffs incident and baits Amanda with just the right amount of attention and indifference (he’s a ladies’ man – he knew what he was about!).

The writing is excellent and the characters are engaging – there’s Nicky’s stern and equally handsome older brother, Gavin and his beautiful and, of course slender, new wife, Summer; Nicky’s cute four-year old, Amber; and a host of other secondary characters that give meaning to the word “family”. However interesting these people are, it’s a bit disappointing that I wasn’t treated to more of Nicky and Amanda together. For most of the book, I’m given incidents of how close Nicky is to his brothers and new sister-in-law (if I were Gavin, I’d be jealous!) – and later, how Amanda has been taken to the family’s bosom by Summer. Since I really enjoyed Amanda and Nicky, I would have liked to have more interaction between them from the beginning. They are such nice people! Actually, everyone was nice – there was no real villain in the story. Well, there is Sheila, Nicky’s daughter’s vain and indifferent mother, but she is disposed of rather neatly in the end - and in just one sentence!

Sweet Temptation is an enjoyable story with excellent writing, lovely imagery of Jamaica and beautiful characters – not to mention a picture of how the more privileged people live! I just wished there was a lot more romance in it.

Reviewed in March 2002 by Veronica.

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