Guarding Temptation was previously published as a short story titled Resisting Desire in the Rogue Nights anthology. The new and updated version has been revised to double the original story so if you’ve already read the original version, there’s a lot more to the story of Nina and James in this novella.
Nina is the anonymous founder and editor of an independent political news blog dedicated to exposing the truth about current political events. When her identity is doxxed and threats made against her safety, she seeks refuge with James, her older brother’s best friend and the object of her long time affection. Unbeknownst to her, he also harbors secret feelings for her but given that she is the younger sister of his best friend, he feels conflicted about acting on said feelings. The story opens 6 weeks after the two spent a very hot evening together which abruptly ended with James apologizing and Nina leaving hurt and angry. Needless to say, there is a lot of unresolved tension between them when Nina seeks James out.
If there is anything I adore, it’s two people secretly pining away for each other. There’s something so romantic and sweet about it and throw in a forced proximity trope and you’ve got a boatload of tension as evidenced by Nina and James and their inability to keep their hands (and eyes) off each other. Seriously, this is my only heat warning: there’s a couch scene in this book that may require you to take an ice bath, it’s so ridiculously hot.
But there’s an emotional component to this book that goes well beyond the intense physical attraction Nina and James share. James’ need to take care of Nina, to protect her while coming to terms with her right to make her own professional choices really endeared him to me. And Nina, fierce and fearless and yet, emotionally vulnerable when the situation calls for it, was, as Talia Hibbert is prone to write, a force to reckon with. I loved them and their push and pull.
I should also add, there were some content warnings that deserve to be mentioned in this book. I appreciate Talia Hibbert because she always includes the content warnings at the very beginning of the book. As previously mentioned, Nina has been doxxed and is the target of some terrible online harassment. She’s reluctant to go to the police because, as she explains to James, being a black woman with a past gives her good reason to distrust the authorities. And when they finally do go to the police, the resulting conversation is, sadly, very much unsurprising. The way that Talia manages to incorporate these very difficult themes and intertwine them with a steamy, hot, nuanced love story in the space of a novella is really quite the feat. I thoroughly enjoyed this quick read - it packed a real punch.
Content Warnings: Sexism, racism, online harassment, police corruption