by Pamela Britton, historical (2001)
Harper, $5.99, ISBN 0-06-101430-3
Enchanted By Your Kisses is a book that valiantly struggles to the finishing line on the strength of its irrepressible charm and good humor alone. I recognize that the plot and the characterization could use a whole lot of tightening, nuts and bolts and all, but it is so easy to forgive because dang it, Enchanted By Your Kisses is so, well, cute.
In fact, I can't remember laughing so hard at an opening scene before. Ariel D'Archer, believing that a rake is in love with her, lets herself be compromised by him. Okay, it's more than compromise if her daddy didn't burst through the door in time. But she is finding that the whole foreplay thing isn't as fun as they say. The hangnail of her dress pricks her. Ow. Archie's humping at her thighs in his urgency reminds her of a horny poodle she encountered in a tea room the other day.
Let's just say that Ariel isn't too unhappy when Daddy bursts through the door and rescues her just in time. But she is crushed when Archie marries an heiress soon after. Worse, her compromising situation leaks out into the Ton and she is ruined utterly. Dang.
Now, two years later, Ariel, older and more bitter (I'm not sure about the wiser part), is back in Town. So what if she's now a town pariah and her father won't even speak to her? She will show them all, she will... do what, exactly? At her first return party, she meets Nathan Trevain, who is a secret agent (surprise) as well as a Duke-to-be. Nathan wants to befriend her because he believes that she is the key to his finding his missing brother. But Ariel discovers that he is the Helios, Super Spy, and he has to truss her up and keep her with him while he figures out a way out of the mess.
Naturally, the only way to shut her up is to snog her silly.
Now, there is a lot of weaknesses in Enchanted By Your Kisses. Ariel is a charming heroine and she refreshingly refuses to take no smelly stuff from anyone - not her father, not Nathan, not anybody - but she also behaves rather inconsistently at times. Nathan is a more standard hero but he is also refreshingly free from the usual no-woman-no-cry yammerings, but he too is inconsistent. Sometimes they behave rather stupidly, more in the name of plot than anything else. And Ariel falls in love with Nathan so fast it can be pretty unbelievable, especially for a woman who claims to be bitter because of a man's betrayal in her past.
But still, Ariel and Nathan are fun characters, and they say and do some silly but hilarious things at times. And the writing just sparkles with good nature. Enchanted By Your Kisses is fluffy and fun and I had a great time despite a lack of substantial meat in the story.
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