The Promise In A Kiss
by Stephanie Laurens, historical (2001)
William Marrow & Co, $18.00, ISBN 0-06-018888-X

Now this is an interesting one. It's a prologue to the Cynster series. Unless my knowledge of the Cynsters is wrong (I'm ashamed to admit that I actually remember the history in the first place), the hero of this story Sebastian, Duke St Ives, will marry the heroine Helena, Comtesse d'Lisle, then a few years later hies off to Scotland where he will impregnate some noble woman in need of comfort. The bastard that results is Scandal, who has his own book called Scandal's Bride.

Oh, Pokey St Ives commits adultery in the name of making lonely women worldwide happier. I guess that's what they call it in Laurens Land. In my book, it's called "A cheating, no good son of a female dog who has better pack his bags and get out of my house or I'll end his gigolo career prematurely with an ice pick". If he wants to make lonely women happy because he feels sorry for them, he should go join an escort service, that creep.

Now, what would possess the author to write a story about this couple? A story between Pokey and that lonely other woman makes more sense - after all, there may be an illicit passion thing in there. But a love story between a man who will play gigolo a few years after the happy ending and a woman he supposedly pledges his love and fidelity to?

Either Stephanie Laurens is very daring or she is pushed into this project by her own and Avon's, er, maybe everybody just want some extra petty cash this Christmas, yes? No harm in that. I borrowed this book from a friend, nyah, nyah, nyah!

Okay, I'm being unreasonably petty, I know. But I am petty because I am cheated. You know what the author did? She decides to reinvent her own characters' history. That or she whitewashes everything. Ms Laurens want me to believe that Pokey and his Poor Wife will have a happily ever after based on true love, fidelity, and that Cynster fate/curse/trap thing. This is a gastrointestinal gas explosion in the face of anyone who has read this author's earlier related books. What - an - anticlimax!

How about the plot? What a mess. Even if Ms Laurens is being daring, she loses the plot completely. This story is about Helena, Future Cuckold, needing a husband to escape her Rotten Guardian named Fabian. She has been, like, so ooh into Pokey since she was sixteen. This eliminates any need for relationship and emotional development. On Pokey's part, he sees her, and ooh, she's all that, you know, so he hangs around her. The usual chorus of positives and negatives ensue.

Hmm, but you know, since both characters are so hot into each other, what else can we do to pad the already skimpy barely-300 paged story! Ah, Fabian! That's it. Fabian is the most Eh villain, and he has all those convoluted, loopy plots that will only work on the really gullible. They work here.

Rushed and completely in denial about Pokey's overhanging Sword of Damocles that will soon plunge into some lonely hussy in Scotland, The Promise In A Kiss is definitely a Christmas cash-in for Cynster fans' money. The only promise here is a big fat royalty check in Ms Laurens' account.

Merry Christmas, everybody. The Cynsters love ya. Muah, muah.

Rating: 49

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