Book Review

Taken Beyond Temptation by Cara Summers


Title: Taken Beyond Temptation
Author: Cara Summers
Publication Info: Harlequin 2010
ISBN: 978-0373795512
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Taken Beyond Temptation Since I’m reading on a Kindle I have no idea what page I’m on, but I’m estimating that I’m 1/10th of the way through this book, and I don’t want to continue. The WTFery is piled so high, I can’t see my way to the end.

Jillian Brightman purchased a big ol’ house with her sisters, and they’ve teamed up to turn it into an inn. Jillian, according to the cover synopsis, has a secret fantasy that comes to life when she meets Ian, who isn’t who he says he is. I was curious about this book from the synopsis, but the opening chapters were so completely barmy I had to stop reading.  Behold, in convenient list formation,  the reasons this book is receiving a DNF – did not finish.

1. Backstory introduction: the main character is talking to a ghost in the opening chapter, and telling the ghost all about herself, her sisters, her new hotel, her toenail fungus… no, not that last one. If you’re ever wondering how to reveal everything about yourself in two pages, try talking to a ghost. It seems to make one very chatty.

2. Ghost introduction: there’s a ghost! And she appears! In a Harlequin Blaze? I thought they were steamy, not steam-like diaphanous apparitions in mirrors.

3. Mystery door: the magic ghost who knows the heroine’s entire backstory because the heroine told her (and me) opens a magic hidden door.

4. But wait there’s more! A secret room with the hidden door contains a linen hatbox that’s full of envelopes. On the top is written, and I quote:

Fantasy Box: Choose carefully. The one you draw out will come true.

So Jillian pulls out an envelope, because, and I quote, “What could be the harm?” and is so freaked out by how close to her own fantasies the fortune in the envelope had been that she asks the ghost out loud what she’s doing with a hatbox full of fortunes in her secret room, and then she runs down the stairs.

If this were made into a movie, I have to ask, is there music that goes with “WTF?” What’s the soundtrack for that?

5. Introduce the hero: Over a year later since the hatbox ghost secret room envelope thingy, Jillian almost wrecks on a tight curve with an oil patch and the hero, Ian, sees her swerve and nearly crush her car. He gets out to make sure she’s ok… and is immediately seized by this crazy desire to kiss her. Dude. Did he hit his head?

6. More about the hero: he’s investigating the hotel that Jillian and her sisters own because someone had been playing potentially deadly pranks on the guests, but, and I quote:

After hearing [the story,] Ian had agreed with the hotel manager on three points. He was right to be concerned, it was too soon to tell if the incidents were related, and, therefore, too soon to worry the sisters.

I can handle ghosts, hidden rooms, secret boxes, and stuff in envelopes that comes true. But a whole mess of potentially damaging “accidents” befalling guests in a hotel, including a WIRE STRUNG ACROSS THE TOP OF THE STAIRCASE, and they don’t want to tell the owners because it might upset them? THAT I am not buying. I can handle any amount of woo-woo paranormal activity, but treating the heroine(s) as if they are too delicate to handle what is clearly a concerted effort to drive up their insurance premiums does not a hero make, nor does it create a romance I wish to read.

This book is available at, Book Depository, and Powells, and where Harlequin novels are sold.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Mama Nice says:

    Awww man, you should keep reading! I want to know if she ever gets to Narnia to meet Mr. Tumnus.

    That, or our hero, Ian, needs to call Fred and the gang to help him solve this mystery.

  2. 2
    Chicklet says:

    That, or our hero, Ian, needs to call Fred and the gang to help him solve this mystery.

    Yes! Fred and his sassy orange neckerchief will save the day. *g*

  3. 3
    Cris says:

    I don’t know if I’ll read this one, but it’s predecessor (about one of the other sisters and her fantasy) was actually kind of cute, ghost and all.

  4. 4
    Donna says:

    See, it’s things like this give people the idea anyone can write a book. The overwhelming belief that even they could do better. I’m pretty sure I could do better. Hmm… maybe I should put that manicorn idea on the front burner….

  5. 5
    Bianca says:

    Oh, Cara Summers.  I read a Blaze by her once about identical twins who swap places…  *headdesk*  Godawful writing, bad plotting, horrid characters… 

    She’s definitely an author I tend to stay away from.

  6. 6
    Lily says:

    It’s plots/writing like this (including sheiks, pregnesia, billionaires, etc.) that have me steering clear of most of the Harlequin fare.  I’m sure this makes me a romance novel snob and as a result I’m likely missing out on some good stories, but I really don’t have enough superfluous brain cells to spare on this kind of stuff.

  7. 7
    Donna says:

    Actually hit a WTF/DNF moment this morning wherein the plucky downtrodden heroinne admires the steadfast enlightened hero’s taut white butt as he walks TOWARDS her while simultaneously awestruck by the size of his manly bits. That wild cougar attack left more than facial scars….

  8. 8
    Cathy says:

    Actually hit a WTF/DNF moment this morning wherein the plucky downtrodden heroinne admires the steadfast enlightened hero’s taut white butt as he walks TOWARDS her while simultaneously awestruck by the size of his manly bits. That wild cougar attack left more than facial scars….

    This actually made me spit tea on my monitor.  Wow.

  9. 9
    Donna says:

    Cathy, I live to serve.

  10. 10
    ocelott says:

    Yes! Fred and his sassy orange neckerchief will save the day. *g*

    Now this is a romance novel I’d be excited about.  Someone get on that, please!

  11. 11
    Aliza Mann says:

    she can handle talking to a ghost, but not her business?  smh

  12. 12
    John J. says:

    This is a shame, as some Harlequin novels are really amazing.  It’s craptastic books like these that give the brand a bad name.  And the cheesy Presents titles, too, but that’s another dark road entirely…

    Either way, I’m disappointed.  I want a romance that makes a ghost sexy!  I don’t know how that would pan out…but any author that can make it succeed is a genius.

  13. 13
    AngelFire says:

    I know exactly how you feel. I just feel assaulted by some of the crap that gets published. You open the book and put your next half hour to an hour into their hands and they just slap you around and call you “Sally”. :-) I especially despise the whole hero who thinks nothing of you or your so called accomplishments or business or intelligence …etc. I laugh in your face because I find your anger at my insulting everything about you cute and sexy! Okay so this is only mildly about the book in question….BUT STILL!

  14. 14
    AngelFire says:

    I’ve read at least two where the ghost was sexy.  One was strictly romantic drama novel called – The Hand I Fan With, where she has this hot steamy affair with a ghost that she accidentally conjures up. The other had more paranormal aspects and he was only stalking her dreams because he was trapped in another realm (blah,blah,blah). That one was one of a series I think can’t remember the name now. Either way he ended up needing her to ‘set him free’ by teh sex.

  15. 15
    Kate Hewitt says:

    I couldn’t let the slight on Harlequin Presents titles pass, especially since the titles are changing in the next year, moving away from The Squillionaire’s Xish Y to certainly similar but hopefully more evocative offerings. My upcoming titles are: The Bride’s Awakening, The Undoing of De Luca, and Bound To The Greek, just to give you some idea. Some other interesting titles I’ve come across are: Bride in a Gilded Cage (Abby Green), Passion, Purity & The Prince (Annie West). The Innocent’s Dark Seduction (Jennie Lucas).

  16. 16
    CLMoore says:

    There was a Romantic Ghost Story written in the early 70’s.. I seem to remember that the title may have been “Trist” .. Took place right at the end of WWII in England.. Unfortunately I don’t know who the author was.. The Ghost came home from the war not knowing that he had died only to discover that his home had been rented out to a beautiful girl and her father.

  17. 17
    EbonyMcKenna says:

    Oh cringe!
    As readers, we’re prepared to accept ghosts or whatever else – because we open and book and accept the premise, but from that moment on, everything else needs to ring true.

    Sounds like this had an interesting set up but then fell to bits in wtf-alanch.

    As a writer, I’m now sh*tscared of sending you my book for review. It’s about a girl and her talking ferret.

  18. 18
    Amanda in Baltimore says:

    Since we are feeling free to dis some books we hated and DNF, I’d like to chime in that Home in Carolina, by Sherryl Woods, was a piece o’ crap.

    The heroine is a recovering anorexic and everyone in town hounds her about not eating if she doesn’t take every meal they try to shove down her throat. The hero is a pro baseball player, Ms. Anorexia’s ex, who cheated on her with groupies all over the National League until one of them got knocked up.

    The parents of the skinny chick and the Baby Daddy are all mixed up and best-friendy with each other, and they all live in Noseyville, SC (and can I just say that I’m from a small town in SC, and no one there was EVAH up in anybody’s business like these people are. I mean it, in this fictional town it’s a city ordinance that if you try to keep a secret or have a private thought, the police beat it out of you.) and I began hating the heroine, because no matter what kind of shit anyone dumped on her, she felt guilty for being selfish, if she didn’t THINK OF HER EX’S feelings, or future, or illegitimate spawn first.  “Hey, I feel guilty because Mr. Cheater hurt his arm. If I won’t supervise his rehab, I am a bad person, because I feel mad and betrayed.”

    DNF. If anyone would like to read this piece of crap, and re-write the ending a la Hamlet (dead people all over the stage) I would LOVE to read that.

  19. 19
    ehoyden says:

    If this were made into a movie, I have to ask, is there music that goes with “WTF?” What’s the soundtrack for that?
    That’s easy. “City of Angels”. 

    Major groan on the writing.  Just curious if Shaggy and Scooby Doo showed up.  You probably didn’t get to that part.  Might have been the additional econtent.  And I didn’t realize Kindles didn’t have page numbers.  How frustrating.

    @EbonyMcKenna:  I could deal well with a talking ferrets.  Is it a ghost ferret?  vampire ferret?  wereferret?  ;-)

  20. 20
    Shae says:

    It sounds like an episode of Scooby Doo! LOL BTW I love WTFery I’m gonna have to add that to my vocabulary.

  21. 21
    Shae says:

    I guess I should have read the comments before my post. LOL

  22. 22
    EbonyMcKenna says:

    @ehoyden – Shambles is a man-ferret. He’s trapped in a witch’s spell and the girl is trying desperately to break the spell cos she’s falling for him. But, obvs, if he remains a ferret nothing’s gonna happen.

  23. 23
    holly says:

    I’m gonna second the “Kindles don’t show page numbers?” sentiment. Oh, and also the ferret intrigue :D

    Plus the love for a new term, “wtf-alanche.”

  24. 24
    sugarless says:

    The young adult Mediator series by Meg Cabot deals with a Hotty McHothot ghostie. It was one of my favorite series for a long time, actually.

    Loved the review. Honestly, why would you tell a ghost your life story? Why would you think the ghost cares?

    And “What’s the harm?” In picking out a fortune that could say ANYTHING that will come true? Oh jeez.

  25. 25
    Stacia K says:

    @ John J:

    If you haven’t seen it, go rent The Ghost and Mrs. Muir immediately. The sexiest damn ghost you’ll ever see, I promise. It’s a fantastic movie.

  26. 26
    Anon76 says:

    “Fantasy Box: Choose carefully. The one you draw out will come true. “

    What harm could there be in that? Oh, I dunno, how about going back in time and switching bodies with the Clinton era Monica Lewinsky?

  27. 27
    henofthewoods says:

    You change font size very easily in ebooks. So sentences take up a different amount of room on the screen, and pagination can be redone according to the new font. Each font change makes the number of total screens necessary change. The screens end up being small pages that the ereader (the person) experiences. Even the addition (and deletion) of a small visible feature that effects the screen size will change the pagination back and forth. The total number of pages in the large-print edition of a novel should be different from the other editions of the same book. So you can never just count on page 42 having a specific scene – as soon as more than one edition exists.
    The Adobe pdf reading format really holds to the same numbering system when you switch font size so easily. They end up with multiple screens per page and there are occasionally blank pages (screens) at the end of a page of the original book. (That is, page one has 4 screens of text and one of 1/2 text – page 2 has 3 screens of text and a blank screen – and so on.) This does not flow well, which is probably why Adobe came up with pub files.
    When the text is broken up to show the original numbering, the numbering chops into the text. It is more difficult to enjoy reading something that keeps breaking for a number in the center of the screen. (Especially if the author and title are also listed.)
    Many ereaders (the devices) do show a bar that fills as you complete the book, or a pie chart. As long as there is not a mountain of extra teaser chapters, that gives you an idea where you are within the file.
    But the devices take you back to where you were last reading and you can bookmark any spot without hurting the book or losing the bookmark – so it doesn’t matter what the page number would be.

  28. 28
    Cath Bilson says:

    Wow, this sounds seriously terrible. I’m sure I’ve read one of hers but I can’t find it in Mobi Reader so obviously it was so bad I deleted it.
    And don’t even mention Kindles to me at the moment. I’m so mad I could spit fire. My Kindle is less than 6 weeks old and has just stopped working (won’t charge up or show anything on the screen other than Critical Battery). Amazon are very kindly sending me another one without waiting for me to send the buggered one back but this is really appalling timing as I have pneumonia and now can’t even read in bed. Have no paper books left (sold them all!) and laptop too heavy and too eye-hurting to read for long. GRRRFFFF.

    Keyword: farm85. Yes, I’m so bored I’m even playing Farmville.

  29. 29
    Karen says:

    Fantasy Box: Choose carefully. The one you draw out will come true. … “What could be the harm?”

    And it turned out, her fantasy was: “You have to finish this book.”

  30. 30
    Tina C. says:

    Admittedly, I’m not a big ghost fan and I especially hate “The Sexy Ghost” thing since I’ve never read one that did it well.  (However, given I don’t usually read about ghosts, in general, I’ll admit that my sample size is too small for that to be a valid survey.)  Even though I’m not a big fan of ghosts, I could have kept reading through the annoying info dump and the WTF “secret room with even more secret-er fantasies” (though I’d be getting close to dumping it at that point).  But once I hit the “let’s not worry the little women even though they own this hotel and will be the ones sued into bankruptcy when/if someone is injured or dies” crap, I’d be done, too.  Definitely NOT a book I’m picking up.

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