Format Read: e-book copy provided from the publisher for review
Number of Pages: 202 pages
Release Date: December 7th 2012
Publisher: Entangled Publishing (Bliss)
Series: Maritime City, #2
Formats Available: e-book, Kindle Edition
Purchasing Info: Goodreads | Author’s Website | Publisher | Amazon | B&N | Kobo
Kendall Grisbaum is finally taking charge of her life—pouring her heart into opening a new bakery business and even allowing her best friend Georgie to play matchmaker for her. Trouble is, the one guy she secretly wants is Georgie’s older brother, Brad, who is decidedly off limits.
Brad can’t seem to get his little sister’s best friend out of his mind. He and Kendall used to be close friends, too, and as a local policeman, Brad can’t help but play protector, looking out for Kendall. When he offers to help her renovate her new bakery space on the side, their friendship—and their attraction—flares back to life.
Amid the temptation of doughnut muffins and blueberry cobbler, a new temptation draws them both closer. Can they take a chance on love when it means risking their friendship, even when not doing so risks everything?
Stella: I’ll start by saying that when I read the blurb of Kissing Kendall and saw that it was Book #2 in the Maritime City series I was a bit intimidated as to whether I should hop on the train in mid-ride since I haven’t read the 1st book, Georgie on my Mind, but I’m so glad I did, so have no fears fellow readers, Kissing Kendall can very well be enjoyed on its own, and I sure did! 😀
Anna: Yeah, I was afraid myself that I would feel like something was missing, but same here, Kissing Kendall can be read on it’s own without any problems whatsoever!
Stella: The biggest surprise for me was that I actually enjoyed Kissing Kendall and wasn’t left unsatisfied. Lol, don’t misunderstand me, what I mean is that I usually read steamy romances, I like to know how the physical attraction develops and evolves between the hero and heroine, so when I saw Kissing Kendall was a Bliss title (Entangled Publishing’s tame, sweet romance imprint) I thought I would feel like I do with appetizers: wanting more and being grumpy that I’m left hungry. 🙁
Anna: LOL Stella, that’s a good analogy! And I see what you mean.
Stella: Lol, yeah, but totally true 😀 But that wasn’t the case. So the biggest surprise for me was that Jennifer Shirk managed to make me sigh with contentment at the end of Kissing Kendall, even though the story remained sweet and very PG 😉
Anna: I’m with you with the steamy romances, I so like some sexiness in my romance titles, but still, I don’t mind some PG rated titles. So, I think that my expectations might have been a little bit higher than yours, and maybe that is why I feel unsatisfied, and you’re feeling sated LOL 😛
Stella: Lol, maybe 😀 So let’s see what left you still grumpy, I mean hungry for more 😉
Anna: Well, for starters, I wanted more as far as Kendall’s character is concerned. I mean, ok, she had a good background, Jennifer Shirk did an amazing job presenting us her past and the reasons she is so afraid to fall in love or even live again but still, she irked me to no end after a certain point. And I don’t know about you, but I kind of feel that Kissing Kendall is like two separate books. One before Brad acts on his feelings towards Kendall, and another after that.
Stella: Hm. On the first point I disagree. I am always sceptical when it comes to widow and widower characters because I fear the author won’t find that perfect balance between having the character getting over the death of their loved one too soon and remaining in love with their lost loved one. And in Kissing Kendall I thought that Jennifer Shirk managed to strike this balance quite well (yeah to be honest there were some instances when we got glimpses that the dead husband wasn’t the ideal supportive husband, but still). I enjoyed (and not in a sadistic way but rather in admiration of Jennifer Shirk’s talent) how Kendall was still trying to get over her loss and get back on her feet. She was still grieving and feeling pretty isolated from the outside world and her friends, as if although the world and life went on, she has been paused ever since she lost her husband. I liked how realistic her struggles were and how her pain, insecurities and fears held her back. It made me accept and trust her character, it was realistic that it really took her a lot of time and many things to overcome her fears and try to take little baby steps in the right direction, that is forward.
Anna: Will you believe me if I say that I totally agree with you on everything you said but still I had some problems with Kendall? I loved and I agree with you that Jennifer Shirk did an excellent job presenting her character and the way she dealt with so much death. But somewhere after the middle of the story, the constant back and forth and the way she almost “played” with Brad’s feeling tired me a bit. I completely understood her reluctance to act upon her feelings. But still, at times she came off as not knowing what she wanted. Maybe if there were less back and forths in Kendall’s and Brad’s relationship, I wouldn’t mind her reluctance. Scratch that, her reluctance would be completely realistic and normal. But even if it’s normal, I still got tired.
Stella: Sure, and I think I can even understand you. 🙂 When I was reading Kissing Kendall I was thinking how easily Kendall’s character could have turned out to be or seen as a bit boring, dull, scared and indecisive heroine, and I guess it may be the case with certain people, it just wasn’t with me. So I get that as personal taste and sympathy go you may not have clicked with Kendall. For me all those back and forths added a taste of reality and substance to how really difficult it was for Kendall to get over losing her husband and battling with her attraction and even some stronger feelings for another man. How she experienced and went through the whole palette of emotions like guilt, fear, shock, bewilderment and happiness just to name a few.
Anna: I so love it that we disagree! We get to explore more layers that way of the very same character!
Stella: Lol, yes, and actually maybe it’s the first time we disagree on such a crucial element 😀 So I think we have explored Kendall’s character, should we switch to Brad and the secondary cast?
Anna: It is the first time! And as for Brad, I think that we will agree here! Brad was simply the best thing in Kissing Kendall for me. It’s been some time since I read about an unmistakably alpha hero, that is so “quiet”. Brad doesn’t need to scream “alpha male here, look in my direction!” He’s as alpha and as sexy as one could hope for but in a way that he doesn’t need to advertise his package, so to speak.
Stella: Yes, Brad was very different from the usual alpha heroes as he was the quiet “best-friend-in-love-with-the-heroine-and-suffering-in-silence” kind of hero.
“Look, Kendall and I are just friends. That’s all. I admit I love her, but I love her as I would a…a sister.” Sister. He almost laughed out loud at that. His feelings for Kendall were nowhere near the sister zone; he knew that much. And he knew the difference between right and wrong. Wrong was arguing with Jake about Kendall the day before he died. Wrong was moving in on a friend before she was over her husband’s death—something he’d come damn close to doing the other day. Even though she had felt so good, as if she were made for him, she wasn’t his. And he needed to remember that.
He was all that is responsible and protective (hey small town police officer and big brother), considerate and reliable, he was always there for Kendall and never wanting to make her uncomfortable. At first. Because after that he decided she needed to get a little uncomfortable to realize how good he could be for her 😉 lol
He reached up and cupped her chin, unable to resist running his thumb gently along her jaw. “Okay, I’ll back off. But I’ll still be there for you. Kind of like your own personal safety net.” Kendall gave him a tentative smile.
“Thank you.” Then she leaned in and drifted a soft kiss across his lips. “If I had known they were making safety nets so handsome, I would have gotten myself one sooner.”
Brad reached for her hand again. “Come on,” he said, pulling her toward the parking lot. “Let’s go back to your place and I’ll show you what else safety nets are good for.”
“And what’s that?” He flashed her a wicked grin. “Getting tangled in.”
Anna: Oh yeah, see, I told you we’re on the same page as far as Brad is concerned!
Stella: Yes, you did 😀 Brad was dreamy with all that quiet strength and resolve, he had so much love and tenderness.
“Look, it’s okay. I don’t expect you to say I love you back. At least, not right now,” he said with a grin, hoping to coax a smile from her. She did smile back, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes. “Okay, thanks for being…honest.”
Brad stifled a sigh. He told her he loved her and she thanked him for being honest. Of all the possible scenarios of how his declaration of love would be received, never in his wildest fantasies had he counted on that one.
“And as long as we’re being honest,” she went on,“I want you to know that I’ve really been enjoying our time together, too.” She bit her lip, hesitating. “I’m sorry I can’t give you more than that.” He nodded once.
“It’s okay. Like I said, no pressure. I’m carrying enough love for the both of us.”
*sighs* And he even had a uniform!! *stares into space dreamily* Ok, where was I? Ah yes, the characters. As for the secondary cast, well maybe those who have read the first book enjoyed this a bit better, but I found that there was just a bit too much of Georgie and her husband in the story (the hero and heroine of Georgie on my Mind, the 1st book).
Anna: Yeah, I see what you mean. What about the pace of the book though? Any problems there? Because that’s my second problem with Kissing Kendall I’m afraid. The fact that even though this book started all smooth and even paced, so much that I just couldn’t put it down, after the point where Brad decided to start making Kendall feeling uncomfortable (as you very well said it), the story’s pace changed rapidly. At least for me. Maybe it’s all those back and forths that I mentioned above, but after the middle, I kind of felt that I was reading a different book.
Stella: Do you mean that after that turning point things sped up or to the contrary that it slowed down? I agree that the story unfolded verry slowly but that was expected and even realistic considering the heroine is a grieving widow, so I knew with such a set-up I had to be patient.
Anna: It was unbelievably slow… For me.
Stella: Even after Brad’s campaign? Hm, I for one thought that once he decided he wasn’t happy sitting on the sideline and wanted to convince Kendall to give him a chance, things progressed nicely. Sure it wasn’t at breakneck speed, but with the PG rating as well as the specific condition of the heroine I felt it was acceptable.
Anna: And here I can’t help but say, that having low expectations for a book, always works in its advantage!
Stella: After I saw some negative ratings on Goodreads I was curious to see how Kissing Kendall would fare and was pleasantly surprised what a wonderful, well written and enjoyable story it turned out to be.
Anna: While on the other hand, having high, always makes me feel disappointed in the end… So maybe, my losing my interest in this story is solely to blame on my expectations. I wasn’t prepared to show tolerance in any aspect 🙂
Stella: Yes, I’ve experienced that, sadly reading is a very subjective thing, your enjoyment of a story does not solely depend on some of the more “objective” details like whether you like the author’s writing style or connect with the characters but also on what kind of mood you are in and whether you had a bad day. So yes, lots of factors play into it.
Anna: I so agree with you! Because you see, technically, I liked Kissing Kendall. The character development and the writing style were pretty good. But still, a couple of details managed to spoil things for me.
Stella: Kissing Kendall was a very pleasant surprise for me. The story flew smoothly and Jennifer Shirk is a natural storyteller, her writing is wonderfully evocative, heartfelt and moving. The end wasn’t such a hit with me as I’m not a fan of public declarations and I found Kendall’s realization a bit sudden, but Kendall and Brad are really good together. Kissing Kendall is one of those romances that makes you sigh with satisfaction and contentment because you just know that the hero and heroine will live happily ever after even after “The End”.
Kissing Kendall was a delightful, heart-warming story and I’m looking forward to reading more stories by Jennifer Shirk!
I give Kissing Kendall 4 stars!
Anna: Kissing Kendall is a really sweet and cute romantic title that even though I enjoyed reading, I can’t say that it’s among the best contemporary titles that I ever read. Kendall’s character and an uneven pace after the middle of the story are the main reasons I felt tired while reading this book. It’s a title worth your attention, just not the best one out there.