March 17, 2016
So many authors, so little time.
Once again I'm being sucked into reading an author which I for some reason have ignored.
This is the third book of Jo Goodman's I've read and I have to say this one pulls out all the stops. Oh sure, I knew Jo Goodman was out there but as I said in one of my earlier reviews I thought she did only westerns and I'm not a big fan of those. But I have checked out her backlist and found many many many books which fall neatly into my little reading niche. If His Kiss Is Wicked is the third in the Grantham series and was published in 2007. This is the story of Emma Hathaway and Restell Gardner, the step-brother to the Earl of Ferrin (One Forbidden Evening.)
Editorial comment: Restell - yum. What an incredible hero! He was handsome - ignore the mustache and beard on the front cover, once again the description in the book doesn't match the cover. Although if you look closely at the hair you will see that it is blonde. Whine, whine, whine. Enough about covers - back to our wonderful hero. As I said before, he was so handsome, in fact I'm guessing he was intimidatingly handsomeeeey - those good looking guys make me stutter. Restell is intelligent, can read people like a super hero, is kind, and most importantly he has a wonderful sense of humor, a lot of which he aims at himself. I loved this guy and I especially loved his interaction with our heroine, Emma. The dialogue between those two was so much fun to read. But the story isn't all about having a laugh a minute; it's no screwball comedy. There is also some very complex character building going on. And, not only in the two main people. There is a lot of subtle characterization going on, especially in the secondary character of Marisol. More on her later.
Emma. If there was any weakness in this book, I would have to say it was with Emma. I loved Emma. I loved how Ms. Goodman wrote her. The pain she goes through after she is attacked and beaten is so very realistic. Her reaction to her fear, and her impatience with that fear was another piece of great writing. She is a strong woman, she is complex and she is a fighter. But I had just a minor quibble with her. She was portrayed as a scrapper and as someone who was very perceptive - so why did she put up with her cousin Marisol for so long? I wanted Emma to stand up to the sly Marisol lonnnng before she did. I don't believe it's written anywhere that one must love one's cousin just because they are one's cousin.
Marisol. It took be a while to decide whether I liked Marisol or not. One minute she's a flitty-flappy beautiful woman who everyone admires and the next minute she saying something snide, something so subtle that one doesn't know whether one has been insulted or not. Ms. Goodman did a magnificent job of writing Marisol. I was never sure with her what was going on. Spoiler. She is actually quite creepy.
Red-herrings. Once again there are numerous red herrings in this story. We are led down a lot of paths on our way to solving a rather complicated mystery. But I say - if you go with your gut reaction you will know right away who the villain is. You just won't know why.
Overall, I loved almost every nuance of this story. I thought Restell and Emma were a wonderful couple. They brought out the best in each other. By the way - Restell's marriage proposal was a big sigh moment. This is/was some great storytelling, wonderful words, fine characters and the only complaint I had was Emma's blind-spot when it came to Marisol. High recommendation.
Time/Place: Regency England