Format: .mobi (provided by author in exchange for an honest review)
Release Date: August 19, 2013 (as part of the Wicked Firsts Anthology)
Counterterrorist agent Taft Walker knows the Mexican cartel smuggling game. But posing as part owner of an adult store to ferret out the newest tunnel into the US is a first. So is Zoe Brooks, his partner, new to undercover and a sex-toy virgin. Taft’s up for the sexy challenge. At least until he sees the real Zoe beneath her tough façade and realizes, for the first time in his life, he’ll have to risk his heart to win.
After the death of a teammate, Border Patrol Agent Zoe Brooks is ready to get off the front lines. She’s willing to tolerate a swaggering partner like Taft for a chance to work investigations with ICE. But she’s not prepared for the way he understands her deepest, sexiest desires. Or the fact that she’ll have to break her own rules to grab hold of the passion she’s always wanted.
I admit, I was a little nervous to read First Temptation. Not because author Joan Swan doesn't deliver, she always does. No, I was nervous because of, get this, the blurb.
Why? Because it is a contemporary romance that used the dreaded "V" word. The heroine, Zoe Brooks, is a sex toy virgin and I was afraid that meant a boring, saintly, "innocent" little fool. I was nervous because I thought "What if Joan is crossing over into what's 'popular' in romance right now? I'm not a fan of the latest trends!" Before I knew it my mind was racing and I was imagining all sorts of disasters for myself as a reader. I had to calm myself down long enough to start reading First Temptation.
I'm breathing a sigh of relief right now. I should know better than to doubt Joan's ability to tell a story.
First Temptation definitely shows a steamier side to Joan Swan. Yay! There's more sexual tension between her main characters than in her other books and I loved it! Please keep up the level of sexy Joan, it really works!!! Taft and Zoe really burn up the pages, even when they're just talking to one another! Their banter and chemistry is entertaining and helps balance out the more serious issue of the drug cartel.
I am Hispanic, so I did look at First Temptation a little differently than other romance novellas because it does take place along the US/Mexico border (I live in a border city). So naturally I wanted to make sure that people and situations were as realistic as possible, or at least sounded realistic, since I have absolutely no knowledge of what happens within the border patrol or any of the involved agencies.
For a novella, it seemed longer and didn't shy away from details which enriched the overall reading experience. The characters Taft and Zoe were fun, they didn't take themselves too seriously and while Zoe had relationship hangups, she didn't drone on and on about them, she focused on getting her job done right and as safely as possible.
Taft was an interesting mixture of alpha male and juvenile playboy. He loves the ladies and they love him. He never stays too long with one woman but Zoe has him thinking long term. I loved him because as much as he wants to play the "man" and protect Zoe from harm, he steps back and Zoe is able to do the job she was trained for. He's a partner and a friend to Zoe and that was something I really liked.
If you haven't given Joan Swan's books a try, First Temptations. Though it's a part of the Covert Affairs series (and part of the Wicked Firsts anthology along with Laura Wright, Alexandra Ivy, Elisabeth Naughton and more), it can be read as a stand alone without any fear of major spoilers.