One More Kiss
I really struggled to finish One More Kiss. Even though I hate to let a book defeat me, I’m almost sure that had I not been reading it for review, it would have been a DNF.
Non-identical twin sisters Beatrice and Cecilia are the daughters of Abel Brent, a wealthy Midlands industrialist. Although they’re rich, Mr. Brent is a self-made man and thus looked down upon by society, so he has enlisted the help of the influential Countess of Haven to launch them into the London season. So that she can give them a small taste of what is to come, she arranges a small house party at her country estate and invites a carefully chosen selection of guests so that the girls can become used to interacting in different types of society.
What follows reads like a catalogue of “this happened then” and “then they did this,” that got boring very quickly. There was no sense of character or relationship development, the dialogue was flat and unnatural, and in many cases, the different dinners each night seemed to serve merely as the opportunity for info-dumps and anvilicious ponderings. Then there’s the villain, who only needs a swirly cape, twirly moustache and to say “muahahaha!” each time he enters the room to make it abundantly clear to us that he is not a good egg.
I don’t like to say I didn’t enjoy a book without trying to illustrate my reasons. What didn’t work in general was that the writing was flat and humorless and the characterization was practically non-existent. The pacing was very slow and I felt as though I was simply ploughing through descriptions of what happened at each outing or meal during the house party while very little happened to advance the plot.
Jess Pennistan is constantly referred to as being someone who is not a suitable man for a young lady to know; he’s a rake and a gambler so naturally, Brent warns his daughters to steer clear of him. But Jess is intrigued by Beatrice from their first meeting, nicknaming her a “pocket Venus” because of her perfectly petite form. (Note to the cover artist – the heroine is a brunette and the hero is blond, not the other way around).
Yet we see no evidence whatsoever that Jess’ reputation is deserved. We do see him gamble – but he is a complete gentleman to the ladies at the house party, and frequently shows himself to be kind, sensitive and honorable; and in fact, does his utmost NOT to act on the overwhelming attraction he feels for Beatrice.
Beatrice is “perky” and “curious” to the point of annoyance, and Cecilia is an odd mixture of someone who is worried that others will see only her beauty and care for nothing else about her – and yet she seems unable to pass a mirror without making use of it.
The Marquis of Destry falls hard for the Cecilia who, for some reason I can’t fathom, is desperate to avoid him. All he’s done is try to talk to her and maybe flirt with her a bit. It’s quite possible I missed the reasons for her aversion while trying to prop up my eyelids on matchsticks, but I don’t think so.
More specifically, there are a number of inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and other things that bothered me. It would take too long to list them all, but here’s a selection of the things that would have made the book a wallbanger had it not been for the fact I was reading it on my Kindle.
The characters’ names were one such thing. On what planet is “Bitsy” a diminutive of “Beatrice?” The Duke of Bendas just doesn’t sound at all the sort of name that would be borne by an English nobleman. And the hero’s name is JESSUP. Really? He’s referred to as Jess sometimes, but when I discovered it was short for Jessup I almost fell off my chair laughing. For one thing, in the UK, “Jessup’s” is a well-known chain of camera shops and car dealers. And for another – it’s just not a name I’ve ever heard used as a Christian name.
And then there are the titles. I can understand that the intricacies of the UK system of honors and titles can be confusing, I really can, and I don’t pretend to be anything like an expert. But even a glance at that bastion of accuracy that is Wikipedia will provide information as to the correct form of address for a Marquis. The Marquis of Destry is addressed or referred to as “Lord Destry,” not “Marquis Destry.” As a baron, Jess would be referred to as “Lord Pennistan”, NOT “Lord Jess” – unless he was a minor.
At one point, there’s a reference to “Bach’s Requiem”. He didn’t write one. Again, a quick Google search would have prevented that mistake.
There are a number of instances in which characterization is inconsistent. For example, our hostess, a widowed countess who is well respected by the ton and appears to have huge cachet within it, is having an affair with the heroine’s father, who is – shock, horror! – in trade. And yet she is still received in the highest circles and has enough clout to be able to sponsor his two daughters into society. But at the start of her house party, this gracious and famed hostess can think of no better way to gain the attention of her dozen or so guests, than by smashing a glass!
It also seems like no one is paying attention in this novel. At one point, Jess whisks Beatrice out of a room unnoticed, snogs her senseless, again unnoticed and they return… yes, you’ve guessed it, unnoticed. Later, Beatrice and Cecilia intrude on a game of cards at a crucial point, and nobody notices they’re in the room, despite the fact they’re talking to each other almost constantly.
The dialogue was weak. It often stated the obvious, or else was totally unrealistic. When Beatrice and Cecilia have stumbled into a situation in which Destry is a bit tipsy and is making an ass of himself, Beatrice begs Jess to “Do something or I will never let you smother me with kisses.” Well, I suppose that’s one way of offering him an incentive.
I could go on, but it would probably take longer to make the list than it did to read the book, so I’ll stop there. I tried hard to find something to like about One More Kiss – but I’m afraid I failed miserably. It’s poorly written, poorly characterized and full of such ridiculousness that it made me want to spit.