Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-06-051411-6
Historical Romance, 2003
Now this is more like it. After a few awful books, Linda Needham seems to be finally getting back on track with The Pleasure of Her Kiss. The big problem in this book though is that the hero Jared, Earl of Hawkesley, is a jerk and as far as I’m concerned, he has it too easy. The reader’s make or break moment is just how far she can accept Jared’s behavior in this story.
Jared married Kathryn Trafford eighteen months ago and spent five minutes with her before dashing off to sea to play superhero. Today, he is going home and he expects the wife to be suitably grateful and spread her legs open in welcome for her randy husband of five minutes and counting. What he finds at Badger’s Run though is Kate running a bustling inn and organizing the popular annual Fisherman’s Regatta. Let’s not quibble about the wife of an earl running an inn – Linda Needham’s books are best considered as fantasy stories instead of historical romances.
Instead of telling the wife, “Hello, honey, I’m home, lemme give you a big hug!”, Jared realizes that the wife doesn’t recognize him and decides to call himself Colonel Leland P Huddleswell. I think I’m supposed to laugh at the name, so okay: haw haw haw, snort. Unfortunately, he also thinks that it’s okay to boss the wife around and asking her to put him in her room if there’s no more vacancy in Dimbulb Motel. So here we have a hero that’s big in the jerk factor. Ms Needham decides to test the limits of my patience further by having Jared suspecting Kate of using the money she is getting to smuggle weapons for the poor oppressed Irishmen. Also, our heroine has kept a passel of orphans all over the place, and our hero decides to high-handedly toss them away one by one. What’s with all these mules that come home after neglecting the wife for so long and expect the wife to drop everything to pamper them?
Jared doesn’t grovel as much as I’d like but to Kate’s credit, she speaks her mind and gives Jared a scolding when he needs one. But then the author decides to resolve matters by giving the hero the upper hand when it comes to sex. At the end of the day, the whack in the head that Jared badly needs never arrives.
Kate is a now familiar Linda Needham heroine: too sweet at times, although not as bad as some of the author’s previous heroines that are eighteen going on eight, surrounded by children, constantly yammering about love and family, ugh. The author used this heroine so many times already in her books, isn’t it time to try creating a different heroine? The Bambi doe heroine thing is really getting old and repetitious. Kate is smarter than the last few heroines from this author though.
I enjoy reading about the interactions between the main characters and the children. The kids are horribly sweet and manipulative, but the author has a way with creating treacly sweet family scenes that endear themselves to me instead of making me run to the sink to throw up. Of course, just because Ms Needham can write a decent Full House script, it doesn’t mean that she has to use this premise in every book of hers. The Regatta also provides some amusing scenes.
All in all, The Pleasure of Her Kiss is nothing new; in fact, this book sees the author recycling many things taken from the stories she has written so many times before. Still, I’m so grateful that it is a coherent follow-up to the utterly unreadable The Bride Bed that I am willing to be extra generous with an extra oogie for this time only. Oh, and the hero is still a jackass.