A Dash of Temptation

A Dash of Temptation - Jo Leigh I seem to be having a run of Cinderella stories that become ”can’t marry her” stories. Not a problem, I love the latter -- and it’s unusual to find a plausible contemporary romance with that trope. (Still trying to think of a good shelf name for them, by the way.)Cinderella is Tess, a former middle-class Texan who sort of stumbled into the outskirts of the celebrity scene in Manhattan. The Prince is Dash, the public face of Noir, a Playboy-type men’s magazine. When Dash help out Tessa by taking her to “the ball” -- she needs to be there to cement financing for the flower shop she plans to open, so hey, there’s a bit of “Pygmalion” influence too! -- they find themselves very attracted to each other and begin a relationship they both know can go nowhere. As Tessa thinks, quoting almost word for word from the fairy-tale retelling “Into the Woods,” “When you know you can’t have what you want, what’s the use of wishing?”Leigh draws an interesting character in Dash, a professional playboy who’s very good at his job, despite the fact that it doesn’t really reflect his own desires or personality. A sensitive, beta Hugh Hefner, in other words. Tess is a fairly typical contemporary heroine, i.e. a little heavier on the breezy internal monologues than I like, but also determined, forthright and honest.I don’t read Blazes often, so I don’t know how representative this story is of the line, but I really liked that the heroine had past positive experiences with sex and that the hero had past positive experiences with relationships. That’s genre-defying for the categories I read. It was generally a mature, intelligent plot, without being dull, and the banter between the two was lively and appealing. On the negative side, I really disliked all the name-dropping in the story, especially descriptions of Dash having relationships with actual celebrities; that made me uncomfortable.Overall, this wasn’t entirely my cup of tea but was a nice change of pace that made me glad I went outside my usual comfort zone.