Tempting Bella is a sweet story about two people who were forced to wed too young, who first met on their wedding day, and now haven’t seen each other for years. They make assumptions about each other, mostly on Bella’s part, that create the discord in the story. Without having contact with each other, and only knowing their own take on events, they have certain beliefs about the other and take action according to those beliefs … which of course aren’t always well received by the other. (Like when Sebastian supports Bella travelling on the continent after she finishes school. He thinks he’s giving her freedom since she was forced to get married at thirteen but she thinks that he doesn’t care about her and only wants her away from him.) Years later, when the two meet again for the first time since the wedding, it is as strangers since they don’t even know what the other looks looks like, and the attraction is instantaneous. But when their identities are revealed, they have to figure out how to get past their biases and forge a new relationship together.
I really liked Sebastian. Nicknamed “The Saint” for his strict moral code, he could have come across as overly pious but he has his reasons for acting the way he does. And he never pushes his ideas on anyone else or makes it feel like he is better than anyone else because of it. Bella has some trust issues, especially with Sebastian, but she too has her reasons and I think it is sweet how he spends the book wooing her. There’s conflict and heart all mixed in together as they try to find a path together and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
This is the second book in Diana Quincy’s “Accidental Peers” series but you really couldn’t tell it. Apparently the first one was about Sebastian’s brother Cam but there really wasn’t much to suggest that any of the plot lines flowed between the books. Sometimes you are told that a book can stand alone and then you feel like you have missed nuances by not having read the previous book, but this definitely wasn’t the case. If you’ve not read Seducing Charlotte and you want to start here I don’t think you’ll have any problems.
Tempting Bella is a pretty straight forward historical romance – two people are thrown together, have bad opinions to overcome, and fall in love. It’s sweet and saucy and fun and a good choice for those who enjoy lords and ladies finding their happy ending.