A Kiss Before Dawn
Ms. Logan’s sophomore effort is a sequel to her debut novel, A Kiss in the Dark, and A Kiss Before Dawn leans heavily upon it. Too heavily for someone who has not read the first book.
Tristan Knight, the Earl of Ellington (I found myself mentally changing his title to “Duke”), and his wife Deirdre run Willow Park in Oxfordshire, a home for former London street children – and former thieves – to give them a new start in life. Peter Quick, the hero of our story, was one of these children but is now a Bow Street runner. Tristan asks him to return home to help solve a series of jewel thefts in order to stop the locals’ mutterings that the Willow Park boys are responsible. Peter looks on Tristan as a father figure and owes him much, but he has made himself scarce for years for he is in love with Tristan’s sister, Emily.
Lady Emily Knight and Peter fell in love when teenagers, but have not seen each other since her 18th birthday four years ago when they shared a passionate kiss and almost made love. Peter, knowing he wasn’t good enough for an earl’s sister, left the next day without a word. Each has never stopped loving the other, though Emily’s love contains a great deal of anger as well. But now there is fear added to the mix, for Emily is the jewel thief.
Emily is being blackmailed into stealing through threats made by Jack, a secondary villain from the last book, who is hiding out, a wanted man from his actions four years ago. I never bought that Emily would be stupid enough to fall victim to his threats. Jack has some vague accusations about having some vague proof that Tristan is not legitimate, which Jack will reveal, causing Tristan to lose his earldom and all he holds dear if Emily doesn’t steal jewels for him. This is just preposterous, and Emily definitely crossed over into TSTL-land for me by taking him at face value and not telling anyone. I mean, Jack is a wanted man, he could be quickly arrested and transported and no one would believe his story since all know he has a grudge against Tristan. I just didn’t buy any of it. And Emily kept stealing and kept her secret to the bitter end. Very tiresome.
There are a lot of passionate feelings and chemistry between Peter and Emily, and it worked well for me when they were verbally sparring or when Emily grilled Peter on why he left her four years ago. But too often their discussions turned into arguing which was only halted when Peter would grab Emily and force a kiss on her. This type of passion/anger scene can work very well, but when every romantic encounter begins in the same way, until very close to the end, it becomes redundant and too much like assault.
But the biggest problem I had with A Kiss Before Dawn is that it is not a very smooth sequel. The characters and events in this book relied very heavily on the last book, so that very often, especially during the first third of the book, the action would come to a halt in the middle of a scene so that some character or event from A Kiss in the Dark could be explained. There are ways to make a sequel read like a stand-alone book, but this is not it.
Perhaps if you have read A Kiss in the Dark, you will enjoy A Kiss Before Dawn more than I did. My AAR colleague, in her review of A Kiss in the Dark wrote that there was “a secondary teen romance woven into the story that is very sweet”, which, I assume, was Peter and Emily. So if you found their budding romance in that book to be sweet as well, you may want to pick up A Kiss Before Dawn to see how it resolves. But as someone who did not read the previous book, reading this one was an exercise in frustration.