Cynthia Wicklund’s In the Garden of Temptation is an unusual historic romance. Forbidden fruit is always attractive, even if it is forced on one. You will understand what I mean by this when you read this review and have a taste of this temptation for yourself.
Catherine has been married to the uncouth and ill mannered Baron Borgeault since seven years. We get really early on that all is not well with them. The Baron pretends to be impoverished and invites noblemen to his country estate on the pretext of selling them horses. He forces his wife to dress in a loud manner, and cater to his guests. Adam, the Earl of Ashworth falls prey to the Baron’s lure and he meets Catherine.
They fall in love at first sight, but see no future for themselves. In an unexpected move, Catherine’s husband takes her to London and encourages her to socialize with Adam. His devious intentions are finally revealed when Catherine gives birth to a girl. Manipulated by family, Catherine and Adam are separated but neither can lead a happy life.
Most romances in the Regency period follow a similar plot of debutante meets rake, falls in love, has misunderstanding, gets married in the end. The story of In the Garden of Temptation is unique because it is about a woman who has been living in her own personal hell, married against her wishes for seven years. The concept of a high ranking nobleman falling for such a woman is quite progressive. I don’t know if it would have been possible in the 1800s, but it is a really ambitious story line. Quite a risk for any author, I must say.
Overall, this is a good story and an entertaining read. In the Garden of Temptation keeps you engrossed and also entertains you with some steamy scenes.