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"The Kiss" - Elda Minger - 2006

Not just a clever name!

It's not that I need sex or steamy love scenes in my romances - I love many books that consist only of kisses or less in some cases (Christy - P&P) however the back cover blurb of "The Kiss" contained some serious misdirection.  

"When she finds her fiance with another woman the night before their wedding, Tess Sommerville's safe, dull, by-the-numbers life is over.  Packing up her broken heart - along with her dog - she impulsively joins her older brother's best friend in a two-thousand-mile trip cross country.

Will Tremere always had a soft spot for Tess when they were growing up - and now she's become a beautiful, intriguing woman.  He also knows that Tess is hurting, and he's determined to help her get back on her feet, no strings attached.

But by the time the pair rolls into Las Vegas, all bets are off.  Because neither Tess nor Will ever counted on finding their perfect match on the road..."

How I was mislead (into thinking I would like this book...)

...older brother's best friend - actually an exchange student from London who lived with Tess's best friend's family for a year.  Though friends with both Tess's older brother and her best friend's brother,  Will had fallen out of touch, but was planning to visit them in Colorado on his way to California. 
growing up - like I said, Will was an exchange student for one year while Tess was a shy, 8th grader - yeah, I'll bet those sparks were really flying!
by the time... - I took that to mean they'd be at the very least sleeping together by the time their road trip hit Las Vegas - they didn't, but they did do something much more absurd but is a bit of spoiler.

Maybe I read too much into the back cover, but I was hoping for a young unrequited love storyline and a road romance.  But in reality "The Kiss" struggled to find a balance between chick lit and the ridiculous through the entirety of the novel.  Will's big thing is trusting his instincts because his psychic friend tells him to - she also says Tess's dog told her he was abused by the fiance over the phone! Those are some powerful doggie vibes, huh?  Between the new age BS, the saintly hero, and the heroine who spends half the book crying - I'm shocked I even made it through to the LA conclusion. Let's just say he isn't the starving artist she thought he was.  Shocker.  


 I always argue that pop culture references need to be classic or have a cult following, but in actuality I love when a Tom Waits song is mentioned and love when Jennifer Crusie references Buffy - but - "Desperate Housewives" is neither.  And I don't know this Bree person you speak of.  Never watched the show, and in fact, forgot it still existed.  

"Bridal Favors" - Connie Brockway - 2002

I really enjoy when I can place a book to the time of my life in which I read it - by the library it was checked out of.   
"Bridal Favors" - 2003 - Indiana Free Library.  
I enjoyed it then, and enjoyed the re-read.  I've read most Connie Brockway novels and love a few, but I did notice that this particular historical was full of anachronisms that I may not have noticed the first time around.  But I loved the leads and she only used the word insouciance once (page 146) so it's a keeper for me! 

"Dream Fever" - Katharine Sutcliffe - 1991

I guess it's my Third Wave-Feminist tendancies that make me cringe at most romances written before say, 1997...  The late-80's/early 90's are home to the famous 'bodice rippers' and everyone's favorite love scene - the forced seduction.  For those unfamiliar with term it's basically when a hero convinces the heroine she didn't mean 'no' when she said it, and while it is not quite rape, 
it really is too close for comfort and not at all what I want for my hero and heroine.   

"Dream Fever" was written in 1991 and has all those elements I avoid, an arrogant hero (alpha male), a painfully young (just 18) and naive heroine, and some roughness (a near forced seduction/intense first sexual encounter.)  Having just read it back in May, I must note that the plot and setting are similar to Candice Proctor's "Night in Eden." However, "Dream Fever" was written first, and although it also takes place in a new colony (New Zealand this time) and there is violence affecting the H/H it feels sweeter and much less harsh than Proctor's convicted heroine and brutally real depiction of the colonization of Austrailia.  It is a tribute to Sutcliffe's writing that I was able to like the hero and heroine more and more as the story progresses and if it wraps up a little too neatly at the end, I didn't mind because they went through so much getting there.  While reading "Dream Fever" I did get that giddy race to the end feeling - and I'm starting to think that romances should be devoured in one sitting whenever possible.

The only time I find myself wishing for an IPhone is when I'm at the used book store - I'd love to check out reviews before I buy.  I only have lists I've compiled but forget to take with me and the snippets that stick in my brain.  I found "Dream Fever" for 75 cents and vaguely remembered reading a DIK review of it.  Turns out the  review was penned by author Adele Ashworth (My Darling Caroline, Winter Garden) who still has her signed copy she bought at an airport in 1991.  Not sure if "Dream Fever" is a keeper for me (mine is unsigned after all....) but I did pick up another Sutcliffe novel today hoping for some great banter and fabulous sexual tension.

"The Darling" - Elizabeth Keys - 2003

I always hope that every random Americana book I pick up from the library paperback section will be as wonderful as novels by Pamela Morsi author of my favorite romance, which I randomly found in the paperback section years ago.  Not this time.  Struck out again.  "The Darling" had potential but lost my interest about 3/4 through, I did not finish it.