His Forbidden Kiss
O.K. Ellen, remember your motto: In The World Of Romance Novels, You Can’t Judge A Book By Its Cover. So the man on this cover is shirtless in an inappropriate setting. Well, at least there are leaves on the trees and not snow on the ground like some I can think of, but still it looks silly. But despite the silly cover, His Forbidden Kiss was a pleasure for me to read after a long string of below average romances.
Robert Harding, known as “Heartless Harding,” is a solicitor in London. He does not have a grand office or a distinguished name, but he is sought out because of his skill at contract law. One day he sees a sad-looking young woman on the edge of the Thames who appears to be ready to jump. Robert intervenes and takes the woman to a tavern for some food and drink. She is Vivienne Burroughs, whose uncle and guardian wants her to marry a nobleman whom she does not love. Vivienne is a romantic – her parents had loved each other very much and she wants the same for herself. Robert is touched by her wistfulness and her beauty, but keeps his mask of the unemotional “Heartless Harding.” He advises Vivienne to try and find out something scandalous about the man her uncle wants her to marry, which may put an end to the engagement.
When Vivienne leaves and Rob returns to his office, he receives a visit from Sir Phillip Martlebury. He wants Rob to draw up a marriage contract. In the course of the interview, Rob discovers that Phillip is the man Vivien’s uncle wants her to marry – and a nasty piece of work he is. He’s lecherous, dissipated, a gambler and just plain no-good. But he is a knight and he a courtier and to Vivienne’s uncle that is what matters.
Rob and Vivienne meet again and again, at the theatre, at her uncle’s home, and the attraction between them can not be denied. But Rob is not wealthy, he is not titled and he came from a background that was…well, it was the dregs, so he is afflicted with the Romantic Hero “I Am Not Worthy Of You” syndrome. Vivienne is made of stronger stuff and lets him know quite forcefully that she loves him, she wants him and she would rather live in a gutter with a man she loves than in a palace with the nobleman she hates. And Vivien is not a woman to be denied.
Vivienne and Rob are a couple of very nice characters. They are not icky sweet, not obnoxiously feisty, and not too tortured to live. While they lack that certain intangible quality that marks characters to take to the desert isle, they are still likable as can be. The sights sounds (and smells) of the period are well done, and we readers get a nice lite trip through Restoration London. Lots of real life people show up in the course of the book – Nell Gwynn, Lord Buckingham, and Lady Castlemaine – and it’s kind of sweet to see who plays Cupid for Rob and Vivienne.
No, His Forbidden Kiss isn’t a masterpiece but it is a pleasant read with a different setting and a couple of characters I liked very much. This is the first Margaret Moore book I have read, but I don’t think it will be my last.