I Kissed an Earl
One of my favourite moments in the movie Mulan comes when our heroine attempts some manly expectoration and ends up slobbering in front of a handsome captain. So when Violet Redmond has a similar moment with a hunk of bread in front of her Captain Flint, I knew I was in for a good time.
I Kissed an Earl has remarkable similarities to Surrender of a Siren by Tessa Dare. Both stories are about spoiled, bored ton brats who take to the high seas. Both brats become women over the course of their adventures, suffer through a pirate attack, fall in love with the ship’s captain, save the ship’s captain, and have lots of marvelous sex. But despite the superficial similarities, they are different books and it is entirely due to the authors’ superlative skills.
Ms. Long’s version of the naval adventure features Violet Redmond and Captain Asher Flint, the new Earl of Ardmay. Both are on a quest – Flint to capture the pirate Le Chat who killed Flint’s mentor and surrogate father, and Violet to find her missing brother Lyon who may actually be Le Chat. Their adventure takes them to several ports along the way, but, not surprisingly, the most important discoveries occur internally.
I could drag the synopsis along, but I think you will enjoy letting it unfold for you. Much of the book’s pleasure lies in the gradual build-up of sexual and emotional tension, as well as the actual plot progressions. Perhaps it’s an odd quirk of Ms. Long’s writing that she can make a revelation blindingly obvious as well as amazingly subtle; at times I felt almost hit over the head with emotions, then I would turn around and realize that something subtler had occurred. I won’t analyse it; I’ll simply say that it works beautifully.
The characters of our main couple could have taken many paths, especially Violet, who is primed for over the top clichés, but Ms. Long anchors their actions into their characters. This sounds simple, but how many times have we complained about couples who don’t seem real, or who act out of character, or who embody clichés rather than people? Violet and Flint are products of their circumstances, with understandable, logical motivations, and are special people in their own right.
My complaints are small ones. There is some oddly inconsistent usage of French aristocratic titles, and a penchant for over-italicization that gets irritating. And twice Violet does some very stupid things – understandable, but stupid, her character depth notwithstanding.
However, I am nit-picking. I Kissed an Earl is not only a quality adventure on the high seas – it is simply a very good book.