Never Blow a Kiss
Grade : B

Romance readers are a varied lot. We love all sorts of genres, leads, heat, and more. One person’s romp is another’s slog. I was in the middle of this book when our review of Never Blow a Kiss came out. It’s a good review and, for readers that prefer their historical romances to be realistic with plots that don’t rely on unlikely events, it’s on the money.

But for those of us who don’t give a fig whether the titles are portrayed correctly and who, sometimes, just want to have fun, this book is a good time. It’s not a DIK for me, but I found it to be an excellent way to while away a rainy Sunday.

Never Blow A Kiss is a fun action rom-com. Think Miss Scarlet and The Duke crossed with Romancing the Stone. From the moment Emily impulsively blows Zach a kiss, the story moves rapidly. Our leads, two modern Victorians, fall for each other almost immediately but their path to love has many an obstacle.

Though both were born poor, Zach is now one of the wealthiest men in Britain, thanks to his investment in the nascent railroad industry. (His stake came from gambling winnings.) He's also a policeman tasked with finding The Evangelist, a serial killer preying on prostitutes. Emily is his peer. She is, as she says, a lousy governess, a job she initially got by lying about her criminal past. Her skills, though, were markedly improved by a stint of training at Perdita, the most prestigious agency in London. Emily was recruited by the owner of Perdita, a mysterious woman named The Dove, to spy on those she works for in order to catch those in the ton whom the police cannot. (This is book one in a series called, very straightforwardly, The Secret Society of Governess Spies.)

I was captivated by them both. Zach exudes a very sexy charm and humor, and his banter with Emily is delightful in both written and spoken form. Emily is a forward thinking lead that, contrary to my usual reservations about such women stuffed into historical romance, I found remarkably enjoyable. Her advocacy for the downtrodden stems not from virtue signaling, but from a painful childhood that she ardently wishes to spare others. She's smart, honest with herself about her choices, and very sweetly smitten with Zach even though she knows he can never be hers.

As Emily and Zach fall for each other--their love scenes, though completely modern, are steamy and funny, my favorite combo--they also join forces to discover who is killing ladies of the night in Bethnal Green. And while I figured out who the killer was almost immediately--I am a devoted mystery reader and literary puzzles are my jam--I enjoyed watching Emily and Zach work--in between passionate encounters--to bring the murderer to justice.

I enjoyed less the fact that Emily has a BIG SECRET, although to be fair it is indeed a BIG SECRET. Again and again, the author tells us that Emily is fretting about Zach--and the world--finding out about her BIG SECRET and I got bored. I'd have preferred less anxiety and more answers--this part of the story, along with the appearances of those from her past (all uniformly awful people) is a drag on otherwise zippy storytelling.

As I said, this is not a book for purists nor is a perfect read. It worked for me. I'm interested in the series--the heroine of the next book is a STEM heroine!--and in seeing what the Dove is really up to. Never Blow A Kiss is a strong B read and one I recommend to those who like their romances to be airy romps. As the kids say YMMV!

Reviewed by Dabney Grinnan
Grade : B

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : February 4, 2024

Publication Date: 01/2024

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Dabney Grinnan

Impenitent social media enthusiast. Relational trend spotter. Enjoys both carpe diem and the fish of the day. Publisher at AAR.
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