If His Kiss is Wicked / Jo Goodman. 2007
I think Jo Goodman must be the best writer no one ever talks about. I am in awe of the way she uses dialogue to reveal character, advance a plot, and let us see how and why the h/h come together. Her books are lengthy, yet I never feel as if a word is wasted. Indeed, if you don’t read closely you could easily miss a key detail. Her books are to be savored and are best read in lengthy chunks of time when you can relax and engage.
Her latest book, If His Kiss is Wicked, is another excellent read. I’ve had it for a couple of weeks now, but postponed picking it up. Because now that I’ve read it, I can’t look forward to another new Jo Goodman until next year. Just like Jo Beverley. It’s worth the wait for a new book by one of the Jo’s. IHKIW begins with a prologue where the heroine, Emma, is persuaded by her cousin, Marisol to keep an assignation on Marisol’s behalf. Chapter 1 opens several weeks later and when I met Emma again I was totally unprepared for what had happened in the intervening weeks. I honestly believe it’s spoiler territory to describe what happened, even though parts of it are revealed in the first chapter. Emma has gone to the hero, Restell, to seek his aid as she believes her cousin’s life is in danger. Restell agrees to help her, even as he forms his own theories that are different from Emma’s about who is really in harm’s way.
Interestingly, perhaps the character with the fewest secrets is Restell. It is Emma and her family (cousin Marisol and Marisol’s father, Sir Arthur) who are keeping secrets. Very carefully, layer after layer is revealed as the story gradually unfolds. Skillfully woven throughout is Emma and Restell’s romance. It is very much a character-driven romance and I love that there is no trace of a big misunderstanding or uncontrollable lust. Emma and Restell actually marry mid-way through the book and so they are frequently together, learning to live together and falling in love. Emma’s declaration of love for Restell is classic and actually rather funny.
I’m so impressed with this book and the other 5 by Jo Goodman that I’ve read. One of these days I’ll have to go in search of her backlist. I wish she got more recognition for her writing. Meanwhile, this book is easily my favorite historical for 2007 (so far). A+ from me.