"Night In Eden" - Candice Proctor - 1997

Candice Proctor is one of those authors I've heard good things about (well-written, interesting settings) so I was pumped to find this one, and even more so when it was recommended as one of the best stories for sexual tension - because who doesn't love a good build up to an inevitable, and it is inevitable pairing (carnal or marital or both)?  

A fun fact I didn't know until I read the glowing blurb on the step back:  Candice Proctor is "The Outsider" author Penelope Williamson's sister.  I wouldn't say their writing styles are similar, but neither shies away from difficult subject matter.   Take for example the setting of "Night in Eden" - New South Wales, or what would become known as Australia during the British colonial period, which is a long way from Mayfair, and certainly not your typical historical romance.  The story opens in a womens' prison where the heroine has been transported for manslaughter and has just buried her second child after having been ripped away from her young daughter and forced to leave her behind in England.  Yikes.  Oh, and we meet the hero as he's 'purchasing' the heroine, a terrifying situation as many transported women ended up the property of brutal men subjected to all manner of abuse.  Luckily for the heroine, Bryony Wentworth, the hero of the story,  Captain Hayden St. John only wants her as a wet nurse for his struggling baby boy whose mother died in childbirth.  At first, that is.  Once he stops thinking Bryony a whore and a criminal he wants much more, and so does she, but fights it to prove she is not any man's whore, hence the sexual tension. 

 I enjoyed the author's voice and the wild landscape however, there was just something missing for me.  Hayden was a bit too alpha and mean at first which I never quite got past.  Also, I was never sure how to pronounce the heroine's name, which is also the name of a climbing plant found in English gardens, and a metaphor for her character.  But I had never heard of it, and it kept pulling me out of the story. "Night in Eden" brought to mind Mary Jo Putney's novels from the 90's in terms of scope and depth, and while that is certainly not a bad thing - in the end, it felt a little too much like a bodice ripper for me to completely enjoy.