Format read: eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley
Number of pages: 384 pages
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Release Date: 28 June 2011
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Amazon, Kindle store, Book Depository
It was the moment she had been dreaming of: a stolen kiss at a masquerade ball with the dashing Camden St. Giles. He may not have known who she was, but Christel would never forget . . .
Nine years have passed since that magical evening. Now Camden, the seventh earl of Carrick, is widowed with a young daughter, a man with a heart in need of healing. And Christel has just stolen onboard his ship bound for Scotland. Neither has forgotten the kiss that had set their hearts ablaze. The longer she remains with him, the hotter his desire burns. But as they grasp their second chance at love, will the secrets from his past threaten to destroy the one love true enough to free his tormented heart?
This novel starts off with a scene straight from Cinderella: young and rather poor Christel having borrowed (*cough* filched *cough*) her cousin’s golden sparkling ball gown sneaked into the summer masquerade party held by the family of the seventh earl of Carrick. Christel has been having a longtime crush on Camden, the eldest son, who is a young twenty-something dashing dark hero out of the dreamy fantasies of every young girl. In the moonlit garden Camden catches a glimpse of the mysterious, masked beauty in gold gown and his curiosity is piqued. They only have a few minutes to talk and share an earth-shattering kiss before Camden is called back to the ballroom and Christel disappears in the night.
“Who are you?” he asked. “I know nothing about you.”
I am noone, she realized.
But the wet sea air caressed her moist lips like a drug, loosening the words from her heart. “I like the sunset over the sea after a storm and the way the air smells in the spring, (…) I love cold milk with warm bread. Roses and summertime. The smell of watercolors on canvas. I do not own a horse, but if I did, I would name him after a constellation.”
I love you, her young heart said.
And no, I’m not saying that the kiss was earth-shattering from the characters’ point of view, but from the reader’s: this novel starts off with a moonlit scene describing the perfect kiss. It was tingle-inducing, shiver-causing and definite butterly-flying kiss. The kind where you keep your eyes closed afterwards, lingering in that sensation of all over tingling and you can’t help the escape of some dreamy sighs. Yes, after the very first chapter of This Perfect Kiss I thought the title couldn’t have been more aptly chosen and this introduction to the story set my expectations very high. Unfortunately I was expecting a similar fairy tale continuation and was disappointed when the story lost its fairy dust and gold sparkles and became bleaker and more realistic.
Chapter two picks up nine years later, Camden is a widow and a father: he has wed Christel’s cousin and together they had a little girl Anna, who is eight years old. Camden lost his young boyish innocence and optimism: he survived war but got wounded and can only walk with a limp, due to a defeat during a battle his honour was questioned, his estate is in ruins and he has financial problems, and if that wasn’t enough his personal life is just as sad: his wife cheated on him and died/committed suicide and he isn’t on speaking terms with his brother. As you can see our hero is a man ragged by life’s hardships the reader cannot help but feel compassion for.
Christel also changed: from the shy and starry-eyed young girl she became an outspoken, impertinent and independent young woman.
“He’d never thought of Christel as beautiful as Saundra, yet the memory of her, like her laughter, was a portrait of color as bright as a Caribbean sunrise imprinted in his thoughts.”
I have to say that I fell in love with Camden immediately: he is a wonderfully caring father (he had me at that!), but also a warmhearted, generous and deeply honourable man. However, somehow Christel pushed my buttons. I often found her too belligerent, never conceding to the hero, always contradicting. Sometimes I would have liked her to be more pliant and mellow, but I think this is just a personal preference. Also I found her shady past hazy and my traditional historical romance lover side rebelled and had trouble dealing with Christel having loved an other man than Camden.
Verdict: This Perfect Kiss was a fast paced and well written historical romance, and if not for my own personal taste and expectations I’m sure it can be enjoyed even more. I will definitely read more by Melody Thomas as I liked her writing style a lot, I was just expecting and looking forward to more of that Cinderella setting she gave us a glimpse in the first chapter.
I give This Perfect Kiss 3.5 bookies!