Disclaimer: I am friends with the author. However, I purchased my copy of the book for full price.
Notes of Temptation is a mixed book: part romance, part historical drama, part urban fantasy, and all fun.
Easily the best part of this novel is the level of environmental detail in which Halsey immerses the reader without ever letting it be a distraction. A tremendous amount of research in a variety of settings and topics obviously went into this feat, but the writing is so deft that it enhances the language rather than ever verging toward the dreaded info-dump. Having no familiarity with post-Gold Rush Arizona or early Hollywood, I never felt lost and nothing ever felt contrived.
Though this novel gives off a serious romance vibe, this non-romance reader still enjoyed it immensely. This could have come off as a basic “boy meets girl” story, but I was instead much more wrapped up in the evolution of Carrie Cooper as she makes the leap from small-town girl to a new life in the big city. Her journey is at times heart-breaking and joyous, and I loved coming along for the ride.
It helps that Oz Dean is not the typical romantic hero. He’s got his own life and drama, and though he is definitely initially attracted to Carrie, his priority is supporting his musical career. The fact that Carrie might be an asset to that is just the bonus that sparks a deeper relationship. But Oz never uses Carrie, and even makes some sacrifices of his own to help her out.
The sexual elements of this novel are very location and time-period appropriate. I don’t think this will disappoint modern romance readers once they get to a certain delightfully steamy piano scene.
Oz’s almost-magical ability is just interesting enough to qualify this book as partly urban fantasy but not intrusive enough to have a ton of relevance on the plot, which can be disappointing to the fantasy readers in the house. I almost wish more had been made of this beyond being part of what attracts him to Carrie. However, I appreciated the fact that Carrie does not appear to have any magical ability at all, which is a nice departure from some paranormal romance tropes.
This is one of those books that doesn’t necessarily need a sequel, but I enjoyed the characters and setting enough that I would be delighted to read one! Some of the secondary characters were so well-developed that I’d even jump at the chance to read more of their story. Overall, this was a fantastic debut novel, and I’m excited to read more of Halsey’s work in the future.
Currently reading: Frost Burn by K. T. Munson and Nichelle Rae (7%)