Tag Archives: romance

Temptation (Secret Diaries #1)



Harrell, J. (1994). Temptation. New York: Scholastic. Print.

Only the first book from this series is included in the collection.

Reader’s Annotation

Joanna is new in town, deciding to move in with her father in the middle of the school year, and she doesn’t know anyone in her high school. She notices Penn and his group right away though, and knows that she’s got to be part of their group, no matter what it takes.

Plot Summary

Joanna is attracted to Penn from the very first moment she lays eyes on him, but she can’t figure out how to get to know him better. He and his group of friends seem so close and mysterious, it’s hard to break in. After Penn invites her to coffee with the gang Joanna feels even less sure of her ability to assimilate into the group, they all seem to be grieving over the disappearance of their friend Laurie and she while she is curious about the missing girl she’d much rather focus her attention on Penn.

As Joanna and Penn become more intimate warning signs begin to flare up. Super smart Casey is going out of his way to be extra annoying, while quite and sensitive Stephen starts have angry outbursts that frighten Joanna. One night she runs across Stephen and Tessa watching their car as it burns up. Joanna doesn’t know what to make of all this, and what she suspects is too terrible to take seriously. Surely this group of close knit friends couldn’t be responsible for the disappearance of one of their own, could they? Is Joanna in danger too?

Critical Evaluation

This is another one of those purely campy novels. It’s terrible, really. The story line is crystal clear, and the Joanna, the lead, has as much depth as a kiddie-pool, her main concern is getting (and holding) the attention of Penn, who drives his red Corvette too fast all over town. I have to admit that when I first read this book 15 or 16 years ago I was totally ga-ga over Penn too, so I guess I can’t fault Joanna that.

Author Information

There’s not a lot of information available about Janice Harrell out there, she isn’t a current author, has no Goodreads or Amazon page and no one has written anything about her in any of the literary review databases. It looks like she published a number of horror and suspense books in the mid-80s to the mid-90s and then completely fell off the radar.


YA Fic, horror, suspense

Curriculum Ties


Booktalk Ideas

What would you do in Joanna’s shoes? Would you keep the groups secret or go to the police?

Reading Level/Interest Age 


Challenge Issues

This is a suspenseful horror novel and some parents/patrons may object to some of the material contained within. This library encourages ever reader’s right to read, and strongly urges parents and teens to discuss and decide what is right for them to read. We do not support censorship, in accordance with the ALA Library Bill of Rights.

Reason for Inclusion

I really liked this novel when I was a teenager and included it for that reason alone.