by Jody Wallace, fantasy (2011)
Samhain Publishing, $6.50, ISBN 978-1-60928-357-5
Jody Wallace's One Thousand Kisses is set in the same setting as Survival Of The Fairest. In fact, the heroine of this story, Anisette Serendipity, is the sister of the heroine in that book. You can try reading this as a standalone book, but there are some references to events in the previous book that may not be clear to newbies.
Our hero Embor Fiertag is the Primary of the Elder Court of the Fey Realm. The poor fellow isn't smiling a lot these days - not that he smiles often in the first place, heh - because he needs to get reelected and he's not exactly a popular person at the moment. In fact, there are people out there who are trying to kill him. When he's not trying to get his hands on the folks who are out to get him, he tries to woo his foretold bondmate. Alas, Anisette doesn't seem too receptive to his admittedly clumsy romantic overtures. Worse, she seems to be involved with a man whom he despises. And he has trouble sleeping. What is the poor fellow to do?
This is a cute and quirky story, although it doesn't go overboard and enter slapstick territory with the quirkiness. Both Embor and Ani are in a way cowards. He's afraid of baring his feelings while she lacks the courage to stand up for herself. These two are likable and well-drawn, and their initial interactions draw a smile from me. Ms Wallace manages to capture the awkwardness of those moments so well, it's almost cute how adorable those scenes are. It's like watching two silly puppies playing around.
The setting also has plenty of quaint blending of common human world elements and fey world elements, and there are some memorable secondary characters to add more color to the story.
The thing is, as entertaining as I initially find this story, I also feel that the story is drawn out for too long. The external conflict involving the Other Guy and his political machinations is not interesting enough to keep the story going for so long. Embor's inability to be straight up with Ani about things feels like a contrivance to keep the couple apart a bit longer, even though they have already swapped body fluids within the first 50 pages of the story.
That's not to say that this is a bad book. One Thousand Kisses has plenty of charming and quirky moments as well as amusing banters between the main characters. However, this story starts with a bang right out of the gate, only to have its momentum dissipate considerably by the second half of the story. It's actually a relief to come to the last page, because by the point the story has seemed to go on forever. And that's a shame: if the momentum has kept going all the way to the end, this one would have a great blast of a read.
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