Tuesday, November 25, 2008

This Girl Recommends ~ If His Kiss Is Wicked (Jo Goodman)

(review can also be round at Reading Romance Books)

Shy by nature, Emma Hathaway usually leaves the drama to her rebellious cousin, Marisol. But when Emma agrees to meet with her cousin’s secret lover to end the affair, she is pulled into a dangerous game. Now Emma is convinced her involvement in the scandal has put her life in jeopardy. The trouble is none of Emma’s confidantes believe anyone is trying to harm her. As whisper of madness begin, Emma turns to the only person who might be able to help …

The very handsome, barely respectable Restell Gardner has gained a reputation for helping people out of compromising positions. Never one to turn away a lady in need, Restell agrees to help solve the intrigue. Sensing there is more to the green-eyed beauty than meets the eye, Restell feels himself falling for Emma. But he resists succumbing to his passion … at least until he learns the truth about the danger that is haunting her. For if he gives into temptation too soon, he could lose Emma forever …

In most cases I like to recap the plot in my reviews but this time around, I think I’ll keep that part to myself. Why? Because the plot is unbelievably grand and therefore I think readers should be able to savor the book page by page instead of having an idea of what happens. The back blurb should be enough to satisfy.

I admit, I have author crush on Jo Goodman. Why? Because her books cannot be considered your run of the mill Regencies. They are dark, they are brooding and they make you think – all things that occur in If His Kiss Is Wicked. I would never want to be Emma Hathaway, not after the horrors she endures but if in being so, I was delivered to the care of Restell Gardner, well, the lady does not end up with a bad deal.

Funny, charming, obtuse and dangerous, Restell Gardner is the perfect combination of an Alpha and Beta hero. Sure, he takes command and does what needs doing, but only after intense thought and deliberation. He never dives in head first and because Emma is a strong heroine, she is involved in most of his decisions.

As for Emma, like most of Goodman’s heroines, she is reserved and smart – able to think and do for herself even when the family she blindly loves condemns her for her actions. She doesn’t accept the fact that she may be mad, she goes out and tries to prove otherwise. This is the kind of heroine I love the most, the kind that really deserves the happy ending.

Things I Liked:

  • The intrigue. I’m not a big fan of mystery and suspense in my romance novels – that is to say, I don’t intentionally seek it out unless I have previous experience with an author. For the most part I think it’s because in most cases, the villain is obvious. Goodman, however, kept me guessing until the very end. I thought I had it all figured out and then in the final pages, the truth hit me between the eyes. Perhaps it had been obvious throughout and I had been too caught up in the story, thinking I already knew the villain, to give it much thought. Bravo Ms. Goodman. 
  • The art references. The characters are intelligent beings who are not undermined by under-researched material. The book is very well researched and the references are well woven into the story. I never felt as though information was being foisted upon me and when done reading, I rather felt like I knew more about art in Regency England than I had previously.
  • As always, Ms. Goodman’s dialogue is superb. And her pacing to be marveled at.
  • My favorite scene was the one in which Restell proposed marriage and Emma accepted with hardly a hesitance. It’s refreshing to read a romance in which love is the easy part. And Restell is at his best in this scene – it shows his respect for Emma as a person, not an object. He recognizes and comes to love her for her intelligence and opinions. Consider: 

“Your ability to put me out of patience is unnatural. What do you suppose would come of a marriage between us?”

“Children, I suspect.” He glanced at her lap and saw her hands were bunched into fists again. It seemed prudent to elaborate. “We would have mutual respect and admiration, tolerance of each other’s foibles and vanities, and a partner for the waltz and whist. We should share a home, the newspaper, a box at the theatre, perhaps a piece of fruit from time to time – I am fond of oranges – and naturally enough, a bed.”

(pg. 190-191)

Things I Didn’t Like:

  • Marisol ~ she seemed to be a two-dimensional character is a sea of well-rounded others. But then, there is always more than meets the eye.
  • Ms. Goodman began a character trait here in her heroine that she later repeated in The Price of Desire. I found the trait (Emma physically attacks Restell without seeming to know what she is doing) a distraction for it smacked too closely of Olivia and Griffin.
  • Emma’s willingness to believe the best in everyone, even after the vicious attack she sustained.

Additional Info:

  • Published ~ September 2007
  • Price ~ $6.99
  • Favorite Jo Goodman ~ This one takes the top spot: If His Kiss Is Wicked
  • Author Website ~ www.jogoodman.com

1 comment:

sybil said...

You know I don't really agree that Goodman begans the her heroine trait here, which is why I think I had a knee jerk reaction to it in The Price of Desire. Have you read A Season to Be Sinful (One of my FAVORITE goodmans besides this one) Lily and Sheridan (ack might have that spelled wrong) really mirror Olivia and Griffin.

Oddly I still adore the books... but I even emailed the author and begged for a spoiler because I so thought TPoD was going to tie back to AStbS the plots were so alike.

It is funny because the way I see it Never Love a Lawman starts to step away from some of those traits BUT what you notice "Emma physically attacks Restell without seeming to know what she is doing" does still happen. I was thinking of something else that seems to keep popping up in each book *g*.

And boy is that vague but oddly I don't mind being a spoilerho but hate to spoil Goodman's books LOL.

Love to know what you think of NLaL if you read it.