With This Kiss
This is an anthology.
First up is Seduced by a Pirate
Fourteen years ago the young Sir Griffin Barry fled from his bridal bed, terrified of his older, more sophisticated wife. He went to sea and became a feared pirate captain along with his cousin, the hero of The Ugly Duchess. Both men have returned to England and have placed a bet, the winner being the first to bed his wronged wife. Sir Griffin’s wife, Phoebe, isn’t at all pleased to see her husband return, and is anxious about his reaction to the three children she got during his absence.
This story, while in no way offensive, is too light and too short to be truly outstanding. There are some amusing moments, especially when Sir Griffin realizes that his wife’s name is “Phoebe” and not “Poppy”, since he terrorized the seas for years in a ship named “The Flying Poppy”, and even had a poppy tattooed on his face in her honor. I would have liked the story better if it was longer, because it seemed that issues were solved a little too easily, and the relationship between the main characters became too intimate too quickly. Otherwise, this story was a nice read.
This second story, With This Kiss, is extremely touching. Upon his return from military service, Colin Barry (Sir Griffin and Phoebe Barry’s son) renews his acquaintance with Lady Grace and Lily Ryburn (daughters of Griffin’s cousin the Duke of Ashbrook). Although Colin has known both girls since childhood, when Colin spies Lily, the younger daughter, at a ball, he is entranced. She’s beautiful and outgoing and she completely outshines her older sister, Grace. In no time, Colin has asked for Lily’s hand. This dashes Grace’s hopes, as she wrote to him the entire time he was away at sea, and has been secretly in love with him since childhood.
Grace’s efforts to adjust to this new situation are poignant, as are the reasons that Colin chooses Lily over Grace. This novella is a good deal longer than the first, and thank goodness for it, because every second of what occurs later is engrossing and moving. Colin and Lily’s engagement not only affects Grace, but their relationships with her, and some hard choices have to be made by Grace and her parents.
Review by Wendy Clyde