April 15, 2013
How do you make a novella even smaller? You divide it into parts and release it as a three-part serial.
With This Kiss has been released two different ways, as a short story in the anthology As
You Wish and as a three part serial. I happened to have purchased the three part serial and you know what? I’m not really a big fan of cliffhangers; I like to know who shot JR this season not next, but these tiny serials were released close enough that I could read them in one setting. Not sure what the value of releasing this short story as a serial is...but hey, I’m not in marketing. I also didn’t think that the three stories worked as three separate stories. The parts could not stand on their own; they needed each other to make any sense.
So, let’s take a look at Eloisa James’ With This Kiss. We are introduced to Grace and Colin. Grace is the daughter of the couple from The Ugly Duchess. You remember them right? Maybe you remember that I recommended James for the Bonehead Hero award…remember he’s the one who abandoned his wife to become a pirate? He took up with a bunch of mistresses along the way and never apologized. Well, Grace is their daughter and Colin is the son (sort of) of James’ bonehead pirate buddy friend Griffin from Seduced by a Pirate.
As you may have guessed, these two grow up together or should I say their families spend a
lot of time together. Of course, Grace develops a tendre, crush, infatuation with Colin and he is, of course, oblivious to her feelings. Part One explores this period of their relationship. we watch them grow up and we watch as Grace is hurt time and again by Colin’s insensitivity. Now, I’m not saying that I didn’t like Colin, I did, but he’s six years older than Grace and he sees her as almost a sister. So, Colin goes off to war and infatuated Grace writes him. It is her letters that bring brightness into the days he spends in horrific fighting. But guess what? Upon Colin’s return it is Grace’s vivacious sister Lily that Colin falls for...bringing even more pain to Grace. So much for letter writing. For the most part I thought part one was a very thoughtful story, Grace is a very sympathetic character and there are some pretty poignant moments in this portion of the story.
Part Two. This section I didn’t enjoy so much. There were too many misunderstandings, too many missed chances, people zigging when they should been zagging. Colin’s proposal was turned down by Lily’s parents, he leaves. Grace has decided never to write to Colin
again, she finds a nice guy (John) and accepts his marriage proposal and maybe on the road to matrimony she will forget Colin. In the meantime, Colin realizes it isn’t Lily he loves, but Grace. So, he gets wounded, can’t see, wears a thing around his head, takes laudanum, returns to London, barges into Grace’s romance with the really really nice guy. And, then through some far-fetched romance plot ends up in a carriage with Grace and has a laudanum induced sexual romp with the “dream” Grace not realizing that it is the real Grace he is Whankee-woo-hauling…until he gets to the inn and then there is a misunderstanding because Grace thinks he thinks she was Lily when he was a-whanking and besides that she wasn’t all that impressed with the whank and she was a little ticked that he passed out and she had to button him up.
Part Three. While there were some tender moments in this portion and Colin actually came out of his bonehead persona, this section was really an excuse to showcase a lot of sex. That is when they weren't jumping to the wrong conclusions.
Bottom line: As three separate stories, even if they were supposed to be cliffhangers, With This Kiss doesn’t work. This story works better as one small complete piece of work, although there isn’t anything earth shaking or anything that makes With This Kiss memorable. Grace is a well-developed character; she’s loyal, tender, and smart and she deserved Colin’s light bulb turning on sooner. I’m hoping Ms. James give John a happy ending. Sometimes I get tired of nice guys coming in last in romance novels.
Time/Place: Pre-Victorian England
Sensuality: Part Three Hot