The Marquis' Kiss
The Marquis’ Kiss would have been rated higher if the style had been a little less florid and the characters less flamboyant. Characters don’t talk so much as they declaim. They don’t move – they posture. At one point, I was just waiting for Snidley Whiplash to come out of the bushes, twirl his mustache and say, “Now I have you, me proud beauty!” and tie the heroine to the railroad tracks.
Thomas, Marquis de Guis would like to get married, but he has been turned down twice despite being handsome, rich, noble, good, and a marquis. Both ladies turned him down when he kissed them. To the average regency rake, this would only cause him to go out in search of a doxy to practice on, but Thomas is no rake – he is so good, so upright so moral that he is a virgin. Still, he wants to marry, he fears that he has inherited the tendancy of de Guis men to have a weak heart since he has had a couple of spells of chest pain and he needs to secure the succession quickly – but how can he do it when it seems his kiss is repulsive?
Thomas sets his sights on a lady whom he thinks can not turn him down. Margaret Munroe is of good family, but poor and she is an Original. She is tall, with white streaks in her hair and not at all deferential toward the male of the species. Margaret is not averse to wearing breeches and running horse races with males and more often than not beating them. Also, she works with a former prostitute and runs a house where women who want to leave the life can come and gain some skills so they can support themselves. All these eccentricities make Margaret the target of gossip, but she is from a respectable family, she will have to marry and Thomas needs – really needs a wife. So he sets out to court her.
The Marquis’ Kiss is basically the story of a stuffy man brought out of his shell by a free-spirited woman. This can be a good story, but the characters in this book never engaged me. They were both so overblown that they became caricatures. Margaret was so free-spirited, so feisty, so hard-headed and stubborn that she became exasperating and Thomas so correct and proper that I kept picturing him as having a poker up his breeches. I never did warm up to either of them.
The style of writing got in the way of my enjoyment of the book as well. No one ever simply says anything. They rasp, they purr, they bark out replies and all the while their eyes roll, their lips curl and their eyebrows dance. This was just too busy for me.
I was very disappointed in this book especially since it failed to develop its virgin hero (a rare creature). If you like this type of character I would suggest you try Karen Harbaugh’s The Reluctant Cavalier which is a much better book.