Have you ever read a book you thought was sort of bad, but you had to keep reading? That was my experience with Temptation and Addiction by Ivy Smoak.
Normally I only review one book at a time, but in this instance, the first and second book of the Hunted series need to be read as a pair- mostly because Temptation ends on a cliff-hanger.
Penny Taylor is a college sophomore whose always lived by the rules- until she falls for her communications professor. James Hunter is a tech-giant billionaire who- after a marital separation- decides to “give back” by teaching at a small college. He never expected to be so tempted by a student. James wants to do the right thing and leave Penny alone, but he just can’t seem to help himself. They give into their desires, but can their relationship hold up when secrets are revealed and their misdeeds become public?
I had a lot of problems with this series.
First, I wasn’t entirely clear who the real hero of the series until halfway through the second installment. Penny has the hots for her professor- might even love him- but she has another guy friend who is actually amazing, age-appropriate, hot, and ready to commit. Yes. It makes perfect sense for her to chose the dark and broody one who constantly breaks her heart. [Insert Sarcasm]. I write this as someone who likes dark and broody alpha heroes.
Second, there is way too much sex. Some of you might find that hard to believe. Trust me. At least half of these books are “bedroom” scenes, and they aren’t even especially good ones. A lot of phrases get reused, the dialog is cringe-worthy, and reading the same thing repeatedly gets old. Without a doubt, sex is important in this story (especially since there is some question about James being a sex addict), but I think Smoak used love scenes to fill pages and avoid the harder work of character and plot development.
Third, Temptation did not have a satisfactory ending. Frankly, it didn’t feel like it ended at all. I wish an editor had removed about half the sex scenes and then combined Temptation and Addiction into one novel. I know Smoak wanted to write a serial. That’s fine, but even books within a series need a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Speaking of editors… these books needed more line editing. There were several grammatical errors and typos. I’m glad self-publishing has opened the gates for more writers to get their work into the world, but self-publishing authors still need to invest in editors. I hate to be mean, but it’s just not well-written. The story is there, but the words are weak.
There’s a lot to criticize in this books. I might even say they were slightly bad… and yet I couldn’t put them down. Despite the poorly crafted scenes, the unnecessary sex, and the infuriating characters, I needed to know what happened between Penny and James.
That’s no small feat.
Favorite Tropes: professor/student, forbidden romance, love triangle, secret relationship, and billionaire hero
Content Warning: This book wasn’t labeled as an “erotic romance,” but I think the sheer number of sex scenes would put it in that category. If the professor/student element weirds you out at all, pass on this book. It’s DEFINITELY part of their kink.