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Friday, July 1, 2011

The Perfect Kiss by Melody Thomas

The Perfect Kiss by Melody Thomas
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (250 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Camellia

It was the moment she had been dreaming of: a stolen kiss at a masquerade ball with the dashing Camden St. Giles. He may not have known who she was, but Christel would never forget . . .

Nine years have passed since that magical evening. Now Camden, the seventh earl of Carrick, is widowed with a young daughter, a man with a heart in need of healing. And Christel has just stolen onboard his ship bound for Scotland. Neither has forgotten the kiss that had set their hearts ablaze. The longer she remains with him, the hotter his desire burns. But as they grasp their second chance at love, will the secrets from his past threaten to destroy the one love true enough to free his tormented heart?

Since Christel Douglas’ mother had been known as the “colonial whore” in Ayrshire, Christel was not invited to social events like the Golden Masquerade Ball at Blackthorn Castle in late eighteenth century Scotland. However, she was nothing if not a resourceful person who managed to go pretty much wherever she pleased. She was at the ball in a golden gown, golden slippers, and a mask. That night she left a lasting impression on Camden St. Giles, heir to Carrick earldom, before she was shipped off to America.

After nine years and the American Revolution when Christel and Camden meet again, they have scars from life and war. Psychological and emotional scars are far worse than the physical ones. Guilt, regrets, fears, and secrets assail both of them to the point that happiness and fulfillment of dreams seem out of reach.

Christel, ever the survivor, returns to Scotland because of a letter from her cousin Saundra who died before Christel arrived. With all the old desires and hurts to be dealt with as well as her deeds back in America, she declares she needs no one and doesn’t want to be needed. However, eight-year-old Anna, Camden and Saundra’s daughter, wiggles her way right into Christel’s heart, while Christel’s mongrel “Dog” wiggles his way into Anna’s heart. Dog is a character that truly earns his keep—his attitude and loyalty is not to be messed with.

Camden whom Christel considers her “sin” and “curse” holds her heart even though he has changed. Once known as “the barracuda” who roamed the seas as a proud naval officer in the service of The Crown, he now is a sea merchant after being denounced for his failure to bring about a miracle at the Yorktown battle in America where he almost lost his life. Betrayed by his country and his wife, Camden is bitter an uncaring about all except Anna.

With Christel’s abrupt return into his life, he struggles with a whole new set of emotions. As they deal with his scapegrace brother Leighton, with Tianna, the person instrumental in getting Christel sent to America, and with others like his longtime friend Sir Jacob Westomont, and his grandmother, their lives become entangled in the ongoing intrigues that hang on even though the war is over.

Heartbreaking and adrenaline-pumping events along with shocking revelations press in on Camden and Christel, yet their love, so long denied, forges a path through it all. The love scenes are memorable.

Melody Thomas creates a story of love that grips the heart. She uses metaphors that bring descriptions and emotions to life, e.g. “silk and satin shifting like sunlight through polished glass, “…sweet ecstasy like one savored the rare taste of rich chocolate”. She uses events in history to develop vibrant characters. The Perfect Kiss is filled with strong emotions and convictions and has a unique perspective of a given time in history. However, Camden and Christel’s enduring love shines through all the turmoil like a beacon on a dark night.