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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Fourth Kiss by Sandra Heath

The Fourth Kiss by Sandra Heath
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Historical, Holiday
Length: Short Story (77 pgs)
Heat Level: sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Water Lily

Cruelly deceived in love, Sir Philip Levington quits London just before Christmas for his new property, Fairhill Park, near Lyme Regis in Dorset. He arrives unannounced—and the last thing he expects to find is a new love.

Madeleine Charlton, daughter of the impoverished previous owner, is trespassing to pick seasonal greenery. She flees after Philip joins her in an imaginary waltz, but the attraction between them is undeniable. He finds her again, a warm friendship ensues and they share a kiss beneath the mistletoe. Then his spiteful former love arrives, determined to win him again.

Madeleine and Philip’s happiness rests on the power of a Christmas kiss.

I was charmed by this delightful read-in-one-sitting Christmas regency. I found the story fun, but I particularly liked Madeleine Charlton. She’s the type of girl I'd enjoy having as a friend—adventurous without being foolish, talented yet truly humble, bright without flaunting it, and strong-willed yet willing to admit she’s wrong. In regency terms, she is truly “without artifice.” She’s the kind of girl who deserves a happily-ever-after.

Sir Philip Levington is the perfect hero for Madeleine. He shares her strong will yet is also willing to confess his mistakes and apologize for them. I particularly enjoyed how his adherence to gentlemanly rules in one area that gets him into trouble, especially since he's so haphazard in that adherence in other areas. I liked the irony in how by choosing to do what's right, Philip appears to be in the wrong. It’s gratifying that he only allows pride to be a temporary obstacle.

This story is light and sweet. It would be a balm in the hectic pre-holiday rush. Unfortunately, the distant narrative style of The Fourth Kiss prevented me from participating fully in the story. It did not, however, stop me from enjoying the tale. If you are looking for a short escape from everyday hassles, this stress-free holiday confection might be just the thing.