by Judy Lynn Hubbard, contemporary (2013)
Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86319-6
That title itself, Our First Kiss, caused that vile song My First Kiss by the even more vile 3OH!3 and Ke$ha to play in my head throughout the entire book, so keep in my mind that my opinion of this book may be clouded by my blinding dislike of that song.
Marcy Johnson believes that she's in love with Nathan Carter. Unfortunately, she has no idea that the attorney is actually a Black Ops agent who is just using the whole lawyer thing as a front. Now, I don't know why he would be a "powerhouse attorney" and not, say, a bag boy at the local grocery store if secrecy is so paramount, but I guess the author doesn't believe that readers would find the idea of marrying a bag boy romantic. At any rate, Nathan wants to be mean to Marcy so that she would go away, but she's not letting go of his big... charm anytime soon, and his and her parents as well as an entire room full of secondary characters and sequel baits are all cheering her on to cling to him even harder and drag him down the aisle.
And that's pretty much the story. Despite Nathan being a Black Ops dude, there is minimal spy kung fu drama here, and what little there is is glossed over. It's mostly about Marcy being all tenacious and occasionally creepy in her dogged determination to land Nathan on the altar, never deterred even for a moment when he's being an ass to her. Secondary characters all cheer her on, because any single man in this story is to be hunted down without mercy. She also plays silly games to get his attention, and he obligingly gets all jealous and worked up as a result.
The whole thing isn't interesting, I'm afraid. There is too much talking here and not enough of a story outside of the heroine's dogged hunting of the hero to everyone else cheering in the background. I don't think Marcy even knows Nathan well by the time she has him shackled to her kennel of love. The romance doesn't feel like something that develops naturally between Marcy and Nathan, thanks to the forceful interventions by various secondary characters every other page practically demanding that Nathan marry Marcy as this is the only right thing the man can do. The story ends up being more about getting married than falling in love.
Our First Kiss ends up being a textbook example of a romance that is driven by very intrusive secondary characters, as if the author doesn't believe in getting the main characters to fall in love on their own. And the end result is deeply unsatisfying, especially as Nathan ends up marrying Marcy because he's nagged and emotionally manipulated into it.
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