Just Kiss Me
Just Kiss Me is a release in the Harlequin Temptation line, and fully lives up to its promise of steamy love scenes. They are well done, very tactile and, for the most part, realistic (this reader had a problem with believing they could get away with the subway scene, but is willing to give points for the attempt). If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll find it here.
When the book opens, Amanda Sedgewick is having dinner with Avery Barrington III and his brother Joe. Avery has been after Amanda for years. He is a successful doctor, she is a successful lawyer, and in his mind they are a match made in heaven. Amanda has been trying to convince him that she is not interested and has not been able to get her message across. So she decides to drag Joe into it by telling Avery that the reason she cannot go out with him is that she is seeing Joe. Amanda also has a hidden agenda. She wants to have an affair with Joe, but has not been able to catch his interest.
Joe is an airline mechanic who is studying to get his pilot’s license. His love of planes has caused a rift between him and his emphatically white collar family. He has not been interested in Amanda because he didn’t think that a lawyer and a mechanic could have anything in common. To be fair, Joe has a skewed view of professional vs. blue collar relationships due to the emphasis his family has placed on having a “respectable career.” For instance, his mother has many pictures of Avery displayed in the living room, presumably to show off her son, the doctor, but she does not have any of Joe. How’s that for subtle?
That pretty well sums up the entire conflict in this book and the root of all its misunderstandings. In defiance of his family, Joe has adopted an almost overdone blue collar lifestyle. Amanda treats his income level and middle class neighborhood like she would a trip to a day spa – apparently visiting with the unfettered little people is all she needs to rejuvenate her own life. I am sure part of Amanda’s fascination with Joe’s apartment was meant to convey the fact that, in spite of being a high-powered lawyer, Amanda was able to let her hair down out side of the office. However, the references were so heavy-handed that I could not help wondering why a competent woman with a good income could not manage to acquire comfortable furniture for her own apartment.
Despite my problems with the blue collar vs. white conflict, Joe’s feelings of inadequacy and Amanda’s insistence on seeing him as some kind of latter-day Waldenesque cure for overworked lawyers, Joe and Amanda do manage to be sympathetic characters. When away from his family, they have a fun romance and some great sex. There are some really nice scenes in which the two of them get to know each other, and Joe’s method of making up after a fight is both sweet and original. The erotic scenes in this book work better because of the growing friendship between Amanda and Joe.
In fact, the scenes between Joe and Amanda when they are by themselves are so well-drawn that this book was heading for a higher grade, when I was thrown out of the story and into exasperated reader mode by the appearance of a big misunderstanding towards the end of the book. It felt like the author did not trust the characters to be able to figure out they were right for each other with out having at least one really miserable experience.
Just Kiss Me is not a long book, and at one point I had thought part of the book’s problem was its length. If it had been longer, there would have been more time to develop Joe’s history and make the conflict work better. After reading the ending I realized the book may have been too long. Joe and Amanda are fun characters and with some of the extraneous conflicts disposed of their romance would have been a great novella or short story.
When all the pseudo angst is peeled back, Just Kiss Me is a sweet, girl-meets-boy, girl-finally-gets-boy story. It has some cute humorous moments and some hot love scenes, making this a quick and sexy read, but one with a premise and conflict that’s a bit over the top.