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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Shut Up & Kiss Me by Chrystal Kincaid

Shut Up & Kiss Me by Chrystal Kincaid
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short (100 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3 Books
Reviewed by Edelweiss

Miss “All-Wrong”…

Gillie Dupree, once the terror of her small, south Mississippi hometown, was now the respectable almost-fiancée of a wealthy businessman and a wanna-be Junior Leaguer. With days full of volunteer work and good deeds, Gillie was convinced she had finally escaped the stigma of Hurricane Gillie. But when she accidentally aids and abets a kidnapping, she realizes being a force to be reckoned with has its advantages.

Meets “Mister Always-Right”…

By the time Jack 'J.P.' Preston had everything he wanted, the only thing he truly desired was the return of his eight year old daughter. After Jack’s estranged ex-wife virtually disappears with Hope, he vows to get her back no matter what it takes---even if it means enlisting the help of sassy, smart-mouthed Gillie Dupree, who rocks his well-ordered, sensible world on its axis.

In Shut Up & Kiss Me, Chrystal Kincaid has written a novel that pivots on the characters and the growing they do as the plot progresses. This character journey is not apparent until the story is well underway, and it comes as a nice surprise. The result is a novel of some depth, featuring characters who are intriguing and interesting to follow.

Gillie is a woman in her mid twenties who is down on her luck, having just broken up with the unfaithful (but wealthy) boyfriend who has been keeping her in luxury for the past two years. On her way back to the trailer park aunt who raised her in meager means, she inadvertently gets involved in a kidnapping when she offers a ride to a woman and young girl. Before you can say Good Samaritan, the woman—who is the kidnapped child’s estranged mother—has slipped away with Gillie’s car, clothes and money. This leaves Gillie worse off than ever, but it does eventually get her involved with Preston, the little girl’s father.

Preston is a successful (hence wealthy) broker who is handsome, divorced, and consumed by his career—at least until the kidnapping by his ex wife. Now he realizes how much better a father he should have been and becomes desperate to get Hope, his daughter, back. He enlists Gillie’s help because she was the last to see Hope.

The highlight of the book is Kincaid’s portrayal of Hope. Several scenes are from her viewpoint, and they are superb. Through Hope’s eyes we get a wry, child’s perspective on adult problems and behavior. Her lovable, childish bewilderment, her poignant yet common sense insights, all tempered by a child’s innocent intellect, are a treat to read.

The story’s weak point is Preston. The problem here is that the Preston we meet is not the one the author has conditioned us to expect. We are told that he is luscious, refined, and charming, but for most of the story he comes across as a garden variety cad. His behavior is so peevish and cranky that liking him is a real challenge. How can we believe that Gillie is irresistibly drawn to someone this boorish? Not only that, his ill-mannered antics rub off on Gillie, provoking a return to her somewhat trashy behavior as an adolescent. It takes a good part of the story to recover from all this. The characters do, but the recovery is not as believable as it should be. And Preston only manages to go from distasteful to tolerable. Additionally, editing errors in this story were numerous enough to be distracting.

This story is not particularly suspenseful, nor is it meant to be, but it has a fantastic suprise twist at the end that is another treat for the reader. That plus the strange, wrenching odyssey of the characters makes this a worthwhile read.