Release Blitz (Book Review & Excerpt): Tempting Eden by Celia Aaron

 

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{BOOK REVIEW}
Title: Tempting Eden
Author: Celia Aaron
Reviewer: Ivy @PoisonIvy70
Rating: 4 stars

 

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A modern re-telling of Jane Eyre that will leave you breathless…
Jack England
Eden Rochester is a force. A whirlwind of intensity and thinly-veiled passion. Over the past few years, I’ve worked hard to avoid my passions, to lock them up so they can’t harm me—or anyone else—again. But Eden Rochester ignites every emotion I have. Every glance from her sharp eyes and each teasing word from her indulgent lips adds more fuel to the fire. Resisting her? Impossible. From the moment I held her in my arms, I had to have her. But tempting her into opening up could cost me my job and much, much more.

Eden Rochester
When Jack England crosses my path and knocks me off my high horse, something begins to shift. Imperceptible at first, the change grows each time he looks into my eyes or brushes against my skin. He’s my assistant, but everything about him calls to me, tempts me. And once I give in, he shows me who he really is—dominant, passionate, and with a dark past. After long days of work and several hot nights, I realize the two of us are bound together. But my secrets won’t stay buried, and they cut like a knife.

 

Stand-alone.   

Ivy's review

The Good

Jane Eyre remix: You know when you adore a classic, and then you hear a remix? You hope that it’s different enough that it complements the original and doesn’t feel like nails on a chalkboard. As we may have seen this summer, some folks cannot handle when you do a gender twist on an old classic – hey female Ghostbusters, how y’all doing? 😉 – but I’m here to say that Tempting Eden has successfully done so and left me with a new-to-me author’s backlist to explore.

The setup: Jacquarius “Jack” England and Eden Rochester are thrown together when Jack is hired to be Eden’s assistant at a real estate company. Eden’s a driven, no-nonsense real estate broker who does not suffer fools gladly and whose assistants have a way of quitting or being fired before the month’s out. Then she meets Jack. He’s smart, efficient, can handle her mood swings with never-ceasing calm and he intrigues her in a way no one has in a very long time. She wants to delve beneath that serene facade and learn the man behind the mask. Jack admires a strong woman and is definitely interested in Eden…until he learns she’s his boss. Even then, the attraction simmers under the surface and as they begin to work together to close a big deal, sparks fly, and yep, romance happens.

Diversity was fantastic: There are not enough men and women of color populating my romances in leading roles. If I had my druthers, I’d see a freakin’ 80s Benetton ad when I crack open my kindle.  If you know what I’m talking about, welcome fellow Gen X’er.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about? Here ya go.

That’s the world I live in. Well, not quite so day-glo anymore, but you get the idea.  I am a woman of color, my family and friends come in all shades and ethnicities, so why not my romance? Anyway, I adore seeing POC in leading roles, instead of just the sidekick who never gets their story told.

Jack’s still waters run deep: Kudos to Ms. Aaron for creating an interesting character in Jack. He’s controlled and calm in any situation, he always thinks before he speaks and is the calm in Eden’s storm. He’s been through so much in his life, so much that he’s suffered and seen and it all rang true. Some of the most emotionally resonant moments in the book are during his flashbacks and the revelations of his secrets. When you add in his sexiness and hot af actions in the bedroom *fans self* yep, I’d be more than happy to add him to my book-boyfriend list.

Eden’s complicated, and that’s a good thing:  Eden has sharp edges, and she will never be the cuddly bunny heroine. She’s driven yet vulnerable, and when the reader begins to see her secrets spill out one by one, well I for one absolutely appreciated her more for her strength to survive it all.

So those secrets: That said, I’ll admit I struggled with Eden’s secrets more than Jack’s. Jack’s was more shocking, but Eden’s was harder because of a few different reasons. Having all of them spill out at the end, all while she was pushing for more and more from Jack, imbalanced that romance and frustrated me. I also think the second half of the story lagged a bit while it stalled the ultimate reveal for Eden. I could have skipped half the party prep and been fine with it.

Emotionally, what I disagreed with were some of her actions. I will say that her history with Mason is horrible and she has no blame for that whatsoever. However, her actions to get ahead professionally felt contrary to the ballsy woman who’d inhabited the first half of the book. I had a hard time believing that she wouldn’t fight back and use her brain to get herself out of that situation. Objectively, I cannot fault the way Ms. Aaron brought balance to those actions and there were consequences to them.  Even disagreeing with Eden, I still sympathized with her. Now that’s the mark of a good writer.

The Bottom Line

With excellent twists on gender and race, well developed characters and enough of an homage to the classic Jane Eyre without replicating it, I definitely enjoyed my very first Celia Aaron book. I’d recommend it for fans of the Austen-inspired type romances, as well as those who just love seeing a diverse cast of characters in their romance novels like I do.

– Ivy

*An ARC was received for an honest review.

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She took a small step toward me, invading my space. I looked down into her green eyes, giving her stare right back to her until she blinked. Something more than air existed in the space between us. I wanted to grab her waist, to link myself to her somehow. I wanted to claim her, to show her which one of us was truly in charge.

I maintained my stance.

“Do I make you uncomfortable?” she asked.

“Not even a little bit.”

She had no idea. The things I could do to her. The things I’d already done to her in my mind while I lay awake in the apartment behind Ms. Temple’s house every night. It wasn’t some ridiculous fantasy where the secretary bangs the boss. It was her. Something about her that I couldn’t quite define, but that I wanted, all the same.

“Does the way I do business bother you? The way I speak to you?”

I shook my head. “This is a job. You pay me to assist you. I’ll do that in any way I can.”

She cocked her head to the side. “You think this conversation is between a boss and her subordinate?”

I wasn’t sure what she meant. My face must have reflected my confusion.

She dropped her arms before reaching up and smoothing a few stray strands from her face. “I realize I pay you, that you work for me. But ever since that first day, when you won the business from Poole, I haven’t seen you as a subordinate. Can I teach you things? Yes. Do I have more experience? Yes. But you have certain intangibles, things I haven’t seen in any of the others in your position. Don’t sell yourself short.”
She couldn’t have surprised me more if she’d backhanded me and spit in my face. Actually, that would have been easier for me to process. This way of hers, the ability to put me at ease while simultaneously stunning me, made me wonder if she was gaming me somehow. But her frank gaze said differently. The truth was there in her eyes.

She reached past me and hit the button to open the doors. “Let’s get some lunch.”   

 

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Celia Aaron is the self-publishing pseudonym of a published romance and erotica author. She loves to write stories with hot heroes and heroines that are twisty and often dark. Thanks for reading.
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