Just One Kiss
by Doris Johnson, historical (2000)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-125-1


I can't help but to wonder if I'm missing something while reading Just One Kiss. It's related to Doris Johnson's other book White Lies (which I haven't read), and some of the incidents in the book seems to be alluded to in this book. I don't get it - it seems other every Arabesque story I read is related to a zillion other previous books I have never read before. What is this? Subscription Weekly?

Still, there's enough meat in Just One Kiss to make it a rather stand-alone, good story. There are some obvious loopholes in characterization, but what's left is a solid, compelling romance. From what I understand, Dory Morgan and Reid Robinson have a past, one which culminated in a kiss during a Christmas party, right before the cops came and hauled Reid's bum to the slammer.

Eight years later, Dory and Reid meet again on a train journey, where they rekindle things amidst murder, rape, etc, and oh, Reid's pretty much impotent too. Never mind, nothing a hot momma like Dory can't fix. The story takes place in this train, alternating with flashes to the past and present where other characters all hold Secrets.

Sounds horribly bewildering, huh, my synopsis. Trust me, I am pretty bewildered too. But I am intrigued enough with the murder and the fact that everyone from gangsters to crazy old loons are involved in all sorts of mischief. It's like the arty movie Chungking Express, with more conventional characters.

Really, I confess the story runs in all directions, and I am still not sure what is going on half the time, but I find the whole darkness and claustrophobia of the story intriguing and always readable. The romance is pretty okay, although both characters seemed more concerned in getting Reid's choo-choo to work than anything else. I guess that's a big priority in a relationship anyway.

Readers looking for a story where the prose flows in a conventional manner can gnash their teeth. Me, I'm pretty okay with this story. There are lots of minuses - there are too many secondary characters cluttering an already confusing story, for one. But it got me hooked, and I can't overlook that. I have a great time, although I am still not sure what this great time is all about.

Memo to the author: maybe it's time to write for readers new to her work as well as her faithful fans? (The same memo is cc'ed to Brenda Jackson as well.)

Rating: 85


My Favorite Pages

This book at Amazon.com

This book at Amazon UK

Search for more reviews of works by this author:

My Guestbook Return to Romance Novel Central Email