The Kissing Game
by Kasey Michaels, historical (2003)
Warner, $5.99, ISBN 0-446-61085-2


If you have read Kasey Michaels' Escapade you may recognize Armand Gauthier and Bartholomew "Bones" Boothe. In The Kissing Game, both men find women to wed. I like Bones, that lovely man who, to quote the author, looks as if he is born short, stretched from head to leg, and then left unfed for several weeks, but reading him getting his woman here isn't worth suffering through this book.

The Kissing Game is one of those meandering books where the story just won't happen if the heroine and the hero will take a deep breath and smack some sense into the Too Stupid, Just Die father on Page 20 and be done with it. Allegra Nesbitt is the daughter of Oxie, a country bumpkin who inherited a title, much to the horror of the Ton. Allegra's parents went to London five years ago and let's just say there's a good reason why they never go back (hint: Mama mistaking the Prince Regent for a majordomo and Papa propping a coffin against Lady Jersey's door).

Papa is telling Mama and Allegra that they are going to London to find Allegra a husband. Allegra is one of those inexplicable idiots who just cannot believe themselves to be remotely attractive to the opposite sex and who deplore the state of matrimony because surely there are no men out there who will allow her and her darling father to indulge and treat every day like April's Fool Day! (Newsflash to Allegra: I don't think even horny pigs are that desperate to have you.) Then they go to London. Nobody invites them to parties, except for Armand who suspects that his family - whom he has been looking for all this while - may be related to Allegra's. They talk. They go to parks and talk. They spy on Daddy playing tricks on other peers and talk. He talks to himself about how hot she is. She talks about her life, her likes, her parents, her home, and more. They attend plays and talk about life, likes, parents, peers, homes, friends, and fashion. They visit each other and continue where they left behind.

"For goodness sake, shut up and kiss!" I want to scream.

The overkill of talking aside, this book doesn't have a plot. This is definitely not character driven story, because these people mostly talk about everything else but their (non)developing relationship. It's just a long babble of inane chatter about the Ton, the fashion, and too much Oxie the Stupid Papa. Everyone seems to say that nobody will marry Allegra because of her father's behaviors, but nobody seems to stop and discourage the man or knock some sense into the idiot. Oxie is one of those unbelievably selfish men who indulge themselves to the detriment of their family's reputation, men who could only be loved by those intellectually-deficient whey-faced creatures called Regency England Bluestocking Heroines. Suddenly in the middle of the book, to... er, I don't know why, but she suddenly decides that she must thwart her father's plans for her by pretending to be courted by Armand. But then they just talk talk talk some more until Oxie goes too far and bad guys kidnap Allegra as retaliation. Then they realize they love each other and talk themselves into an orgasm.

I've been trying to figure out the point - plot - whatever of this story, but I just can't. Armand's search for his family roots is vaguely dwelt on. His and Allegra's character and motivations are barely touched upon. Oxie is constantly pouring porridges into one's boots that I wonder how his wife can stand living with this psychopath for even five minutes. What there are in superabundance in this book are Allegra's non-stop prattling about her beloved daddy or her life in the country or the clothes or the activities of the Ton. Obviously Ms Michaels knows that in formulaic Regency-era historical romances, it is a big no-no to have characters dwelling endlessly on clothes, weather, fashion, gossip, and other inanities. To prove her point and to warn aspiring romance novelists out there, she wrote an entire book filled with dull and droning senseless chatter. Now that she has made her point and I am this close to braining myself into a coma out of frustration, maybe it's time she move on and write something more meaty.

Rating: 56


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