A Kiss of Spice
A Kiss of Spice is the second book in a series, following The Tiger’s Mistress. It begins slowly, but takes off in the second half with a suspenseful plot that will keep the reader interested.
Olivia Marquand is known as the elusive and mysterious Lady in Red, but Olivia is much more human and tangible than people realize. She is an incredibly resourceful and strong woman who escaped England to get away from an abusive father, bent on selling her into marriage. Olivia is not the typical British woman and needs no man in order to survive. She has been to some of the most elusive parts of the world, seen her share of adventure, built an amazingly successful spice company, and even had a lover. But only Maxwell Prescott Bingham, a man who angers her as much as he excites and intrigues her, incites passion into her being.
Reclusive Max, Viscount Davenport, spends his days hiding the physical and emotional scars he received from the war with France. Max has given up on life and his family and has no desire to reenter society until his younger brother Kip goes missing. Not only has Kip disappeared, but so has a female neighbor and a cursed family heirloom called the Ruby Lion. Max rushes home to his sister intent on finding his brother only to discover Olivia Marquand. Max met Olivia in the Far East, when they came together in order to solve a mystery. Ever since then, he cannot seem to get the woman out of his mind.
But Max does not have time or the energy to deal with Olivia when he must find his brother and solve the mystery of the Ruby Lion in order to prove his brother’s innocence and save the family name. Max has no desire to involve Olivia, but he seems to be getting little information on his brother’s whereabouts. Olivia, on the other hand, seems to have no problem finding out whatever she needs to know and soon Max finds himself going to Olivia for answers. When Max discovers that something far more horrifying is happening than he could ever have imagined, he must do all in his power to not only save his brother, but in the end, also Olivia.
The major problem with the book is that Da Rif writes as if we should know and care about the hero and heroine. If I’d read The Tiger’s Mistress, I would probably have found more interest in the main characters, but since I did not really care about the main characters, along with the fact that the story takes awhile to get going, I almost gave up on the book as another lackluster read.
But once the suspense kicked in and the characters became more multidimensional, I did find myself rather intrigued. In fact, I kept reading because I truly did want to know what in the world was going on and if Max’s brother was as evil as implied. There were some truly interesting and enjoyable secondary characters who were actually sometimes more interesting than the primary ones. In particular, I would love to see a spin-off featuring Max’s sister and a certain misunderstood man whom I won’t mention for fear of spoilers. And, of course, Max and Olivia did become much more interesting once I got to know them.
Andrea DaRif has a rather elegant way of writing. Her suspenseful plot, along with entertaining and intriguing characters about whom I’d love to read more about, make A Kiss of Spice a reasonably good read.