IF HE'S TEMPTED – Hannah Howell
The Wherelockes , Book 5
April 2013
Historical Romance w/ Paranormal Elements

London, Fall 1790

Lady Olivia Wherelocke is a member of a large and varied family.  Despite the family not having a scandal-free reputation, Lady Olivia is welcomed in the best circles of society.  Those she attends of these functions, she finds more of a trial than a pleasure.  When sixteen year old Lady Agatha Mallam lands on Olivia's doorstep begging for help in contacting her brother, Olivia, with her soft heart, finds Lady Agatha impossible to resist.  It appears Agatha's mother is in the process of sealing a marriage arrangement for the young Agatha to a man old enough to be her grandfather—and with a reputation that makes grown men shudder.  Olivia promises Agatha she will get in touch with Lord Brant Mallam and help Agatha avoid the horrendous fate her mother seems determined to foist on the young girl.

Olivia sends a message to Lord Mallam at his country estate where he has been hiding and drinking and carrying on since the murder of Faith, the woman he had planned to marry. Olivia gives Lord Mallam a fortnight to reply to her message, and when she hears nothing, she travels to Fieldgate, Mallam's country estate.

Lord Brant Mallam has been in his cups far longer than he would like to admit, and has acquired a reputation as a libertine or worse.  But he has still managed to run his estate and properties.  He has little to no contact with his mother, Lady Leticia Mallam, as she is directly responsible for Faith's death.   When Brant is awakened by a beautiful woman it takes his befuddled mind a few minutes to realize who she is.  When he learns the reason for Olivia's uninvited visit to Fieldgate, he is shocked and fiercely angry.  He also harbors tremendous guilt that he did not protect Agatha as he should have.  He is determined to head back to London and help Agatha immediately.  He thanks Olivia for informing him and tries to send her on her way.

Olivia, however, made a promise to Agatha, and she is not about to turn her back until Agatha is safe.  She informs Brant she will be helping him despite is protests.

Once they reach London Brant quickly learns that all doors in society are closed to him.  He learns from Olivia that his mother is the one who has so destroyed his reputation, and his seclusion in the country has not helped dispel the nasty rumors Leticia has spread.  Olivia and Brant must work together to save Agatha and wrest the power of the earldom away from Leticia and put it back in Brant's hands.

IF HE'S TEMPTED is a heart-wrenching emotional novel that will grab you from the first page.  Olivia is an independent woman with a soft heart, especially when it comes to children and animals.  She also has the gift of foresight, not an always welcome gift, and not always convenient.  Olivia had met Brant briefly in previous years at various social functions as Brant is good friends with her nephew by marriage, Ashton, Lord Radmoor.  She has always found him attractive, and the more time they spend together the more the attraction grows, and Brant is the first man who has ever stirred the passion inside her.  Brant Mallam has learned at bitter cost that blood and family do not mean loyalty and trust.  He cut his mother out of his life after Leticia arranged the abduction and ultimately death of Faith, but did not bring charges because he did not want to ruin the reputation of the family and cause his siblings to be ostracized by society.  At first reluctant to allow Olivia to help, he soon learns that she and her vast family connections may be the only thing to help him regain the power of the earldom and stop his mother's evil machinations once and for all.  Brant is drawn to Olivia and her intelligence, kindness, and beauty, but fears to tarnish her with his reputation.  As the two work together he finds his desire for Olivia impossible to resist.

Passionate, suspenseful, and thoroughly entertaining, IF HE'S TEMPTED is a perfect example of Hannah Howell's talent.  I've long been a fan of her work, and while historical romance is not my first preference in reading, I have never read a novel by Ms. Howell that did not become a keeper for me.  IF HE'S TEMPTED is no exception.  Flowing narrative, lively dialogue, and a tender romance blended with a pinch of humor and layered over an extremely suspenseful novel make IF HE'S TEMPTED a quick and highly enjoyable read.  Oh, and Brant's mother Leticia makes the evil step-mother in Cinderella look downright benevolent!

Don't miss this gripping novel or the preceding novels in the Wherelocke series, IF HE'S WICKED, IF HE'S SINFUL, IF HE'S WILD and IF HE'S DANGEROUS.  Highly recommend!

Terrie Figueroa