Rant, Review

Review: The Temptress Touch by Lori Herter (1985)

Heat Factor: Nipple play and multiple orgasms

Character Chemistry: They seem to think the good (the sex) outweighs the bad (the mistrust)

Plot: Marla seduces Jack

Overall: If the premise works for you, then it’s well-executed, but the premise super mega did not work for me

This book opens six weeks after Jack and Marla broke up (the first time). Jack was saying, “This is it, I’ve had enough!” when Jack proposed and Marla needed space. And more importantly, because Marla spends time alone with her male friend, and Jack *freaks out*. The relationship was important to him, so Marla should take it equally importantly and not flirt with other men. Now, Marla wants to get Jack back. She wants to marry him. She calls him, she loves him.

When Jack rebuffs Marla’s advances, Marla sets out on a whole ass seduction mission. She’ll commission Jack to paint her portrait and spend the time building a basis of friendship—and then smack him upside the head with passion. And it works! Hooray! They get married! But Jack still believes that because Marla is a passionate woman who lured him with sex, she must lure all men with sex. He doesn’t trust her. He doesn’t like her job, which requires long hours. He doesn’t like when she smiles at the young guy who’s answering her questions about landscaping. And he really really really doesn’t like it when he hears that she’s been kissing another man. But the main thing is that he doesn’t trust her. When things happen, he believes other people’s version of events over Marla’s. When they reconcile, it’s not because Jack learns to trust Marla, it’s because he sees with his own eyes that she was telling the truth—but there’s no indication that this exact same scenario won’t play out again and again in the future.

In short, I could not get down with this hero, and I did not understand why Marla wanted him so badly. Was the sex really that good? Or is she having a crisis because her best friend just got married and is living in domestic bliss? I liked that the plot centers on a woman seducing a man, but if we’re doing a seduction plot, the person being courted needs to be desirable. And Jack really really wasn’t. And if you think his mistrust is bad, when he does decide to get back together with Marla, it’s because he thinks she needs help and guidance to live an upright life. After their big black moment fight, Jack does not believe Marla when she protests her innocence—but does decide that he can forgive her and live with her wayward ways. She can chase other men, and he’ll wait at home for her to come back to him. Throughout the whole story, Jack thinks of himself as the victim: the victim of Marla’s seduction, the victim of her perfidy.

This fundamental disconnect between the characters is evidenced in the stories they tell about the first night they had sex. Here’s how Marla remembers the evening, when she is gearing herself up to seduce Jack back into her life: 

Marla remembered vividly the heated passions that had risen so quickly between Jack and her at her house the night of their second date. They were sitting on the couch in front of the fire he had helped her build. Jack was toying with her hair as he talked and telling her he’d like to do her portrait sometime. He leaned over then and ksised her lightly on the mouth. She’d never been kissed by a man with a mustache before. She rememberedsmiling at him, and then leaning toward him to see how it felt again. Suddenly his arms were around her, pulling her against him. He pressed his mouth more ardently against hers and began moving his hands caressingly over her back. She remembered how quickly the heat seemed to flame between them, igniting her desires and his.

It took her by surprise. She hadn’t thought she was that attracted to him, though she sensed he was very taken with her. But before she could think it through, his hands were working at the buttons of her blouse, then findings her breasts so gently it nearly brought tears to her eyes. There was almost a reverence in his touch. No other man had ever handled her in such an exquisite, caring manner. He made her feel so special, as though she were the only woman in the world. He continued, mesmerizing her with his gentleness until, when he wanted everything, she desperately needed fulfillment, too. She realized now that what she had really needed so much was love.

Compare this with Jack and Marla revisiting that night when they’re having a fight:

“When I asked you to sleep with me on our second date, do you think I had much doubt that you’d say yes? After I stopped seeing you because you were chasing Devin, look at the way you went after me. You stopped at nothing—tricks, seductive clothes, baring your body—to get me back. Now you’re insulted because I assume you must have done something to lead this guy on. Do you think I’m stupid, Marla? You’re insulting my intelligence.”

Marla felt as if she had just been knocked across the room. She grew pale as she sat in her seat and stared at him across the table. Vaguely, from the corner of her yee, she saw a white streak as Maxie fled the room. “I can’t believe you’re…” she began, her voice altering. She swallowed and tried to compose herself. “Why do you think that the way I’ve behaved with you is the way I act with every man? I’m in love with you. Maybe someof the things I did were foolish, but it was because I loved you and wanted you. I wouldn’t behave that way with anyone else.” 

To be fair to the text, Marla calls Jack out on his garbage repeatedly. It’s not like Jack’s toxic nonsense goes unchallenged. But is the challenge substantial enough if it’s only challenged in conversation, rather than with action? Because even though Jack treats Marla abonimably, she keeps going back to him. I would have been happier if they had never, ever, ever gotten back together.

Buy Now: Amazon

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Category Romances

“I will seduce you”

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