by Irene Peterson, contemporary (2007)
Zebra, $4.99, ISBN 978-0-8217-8011-4
Kisses To Go is a book that demands some considerable amount of patience on the reader's part before the reader gets to the good parts. Author Irene Peterson's writing style is reminiscent of stories put out by Harlequin Mills & Boon in the early 1980s. There is an "old school, older world" feel to the writing and the plot, one that I suspect will not be appreciated by some readers. Also, the heroine starts out as this wide-eyed moony little girl type that my initial reaction towards her is to have this urge to strangle her.
Abby Porter is not in a good mood. After having agreed to give her cute black clutch purse to her tranny best friend only to witness her boyfriend shagging some tart (don't ask), she runs off to England to enjoy the vacation that she is supposed to take with Lance, the cheating beau. A magical vacation - literally magical, in some ways - and a romance with an actual Earl can do wonders for a broken heart, as Abby will soon learn.
Abby is one of those American women whose idea of England is that of an overly romanticized version of the land that they imagine they know intimately after memorizing the entire body of Jane Austen's works, a land populated by the kind of men they love and cherish in their Harlequin Presents books. For a long time I want to strangle her because she's running around acting like a starry-eyed dingbat going, "Oh my god, this is just like those books! Colin Firth! Oh look, an English cow! Impregnate me, Colin Firth! I love English cows! Colin! Colin! C-OOO-OOO-LIN!" to the point that I can only wish someone would do me a favor and knock that dingbat senseless with a bat or something so that she will stop making all those horrible sounds with her mouth.
This book also has enough "wacky screwball English people" antics to set back the US-UK relations by at least three hundred years. Between these oh-so-wacky people and Abby's "I want some English DNA inside me... now!" whackjob-tourist antics, I am starting to wonder whether I should be breaking out the alcohol soon to dull my pain.
Oh, of course the hero, Ian Wincott, is an asshole. Didn't you get the memo? The males of our species are the sexiest when they are behaving like good old-fashioned British donkeys. But here is where I encounter a most pleasant surprise indeed - Abby doesn't let that jackass pull her down to his level. As a result, the romance is more enjoyable than I initially expected it to be. I'm still convinced that Abby loves Ian because he's an English earl and that crazy woman is bent on being the new Princess Diana or something, but still, she doesn't allow that jackass to completely walk all over her so things aren't that bad here.
But the author makes one step forward with Abby's attitude towards Ian only to take ten steps backwards by having Ian's behavior explained away by his MIA mother. Someone should tell these big brawny men that such crybaby antics cease to be amusing once they hit thirty.
Kisses To Go could have been a fun read, if you have a pretty good appreciation for overwhelming screwball antics, old-school writing, and big baby heroes. In other words, if you are looking for a longer and, er, funnier version of a typical Harlequin Presents that feature the asshole Earl and the mousy American woman who adores every nucleotide in his vaunted British DNA, there are certainly plenty of Kisses To Go here. Everyone else, this may be fun, just proceed with some degree of caution.
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