Sunday, July 10

Kiss Me, Annabel by Eloisa James

Book 2 in the Essex Sister series

This book had a lot of interesting, unusual elements that I thought made it a very enjoyable read. First, Annabel Essex (our heroine) is not one of those spinsterish heroines waiting for true love, totally uninterested in money or wealth. Nor is she a missish young thing, with ideas of love at first sight in her head. No, Annabel wants to get married for financial security. I thought this was very practical, and I liked that James made her such a loveable character even as she held out for the dough. I mean really, it shows Annabel’s intelligence. A woman in a world where it’s impossible to make her own money has every right to make financial security higher on her list than love. It’s hard to love if you’re dying of frostbite or malnutrition. I thought her sensible, pragmatic, and impressive. Some people were annoyed with her ‘greed’ but I was glad James gave us a female character so unique from others of the genre.

Another deviation from the norm - Ewan Poley, Scottish Earl of Ardmore, our hero. He’s thoughtful, sensitive, and very, VERY sweet. Not at all an Alpha, in my opinion - and I liked his laid-back type-B personality. I also liked his attitude towards marriage – it was humorous. He wasn’t looking for the perfect little miss to run his home like many of our aristocratic heroes, nor was he holding out on marriage like many of our rakish heroes. He was delightfully different. I was afraid, when souls and religion was first brought up by him, this would turn into a religious songfest (i.e. God gave us to one another. Let us worship him as one. May our souls mingle in this kiss. MUAH!).  Happily, it didn’t. Ewan was gracious, protective (but not in a fierce way unless absolutely and completely necessary - no pissing fights for him!), and very kind. I liked him a lot, even when he got a bit antsy partway through the book and had a fight with Annabel. Even that was cute. If he wasn't so lovely, it really would've been annoying. He was not, however, a Saint. I was worried about that, until the peasant scene came along and stripped him of his saintly title. Well, bee stings on the ass do that to a person, I suppose.

The plot revolves around the two first meeting, with her subsequent denial of his impromptu proposal. No love at first sight here! Then, a not-so-scandalous scandal occurs, and Ewan and Annabel are forced to wed to avoid her ruination in the eyes of society. There was a robbery, that scandal, a few days staying as peasants, a funny gramma, an attempted tar and feathering (maybe a little less dramatic than that), a sad mad woman, and some cheating at cards. It was cute, light-hearted plot fun. It was fast-paced and a good read, though a little too slow through the peasant scenes. The secondary characters, while they were around (most of the book, Ewan and Annabel were alone in a carriage or in a shack together, so there were only a few secondary characters), were alright. I felt we didn't really get to know any of them, which made the story seem a little lonely, but it was still good. Imogen, Annabel's older, very self-centered sister, inspired my pity and my annoyance. I'm sure most readers feel the same way.

The romantic plot was absolutely adorable as the two grow on each other. Through kisses and questions their love for each other grows exponentially, and it’s so delightful to watch. I didn’t quite understand, however, why there were so many assurances needed by Annabel at the end of the story and that annoyed me a little. But most of the romance was light kissing, with some deeper emotion thrown in. The romance revolves around their honesty with each other, which can also be considered unique for a historical romance where deceptions and lies of omission abound. If you like honest historical happenings, you should also check out Emma Wildes My Lord Scandal (review here). Overall, some good characters and some sweet, light-hearted fun. Nothing too earth-shattering or deep, but a great story nonetheless.

Favorite quotes:

He [Ewan] slipped a hand under her arm. “May I ask you to dance, or should I request the pleasure from your chaperone?”
She smiled up at him, one of her rarer smiles that didn’t bother to seduce, but just expressed companionship. “Neither is necessary,” she said cheerfully. “I’m sure you can find someone more appropriate to dance with.”

“I make it a habit not to worry too much about what people say behind my back,” Imogen said. ”I might get conceited.”

“Do you know that before I met the Essex sisters, no one ever told me what to do?” he [Mayne] said.

“God, Annabel, it’s not a question of how or whether I could damn my soul. How many times would I damn myself for you? Ask me that.”
“How many?” she said faintly, her eyes searching his face. She stopped breathing to hear his answer.
“Till the gates of hell close,” he said flatly.

“Sexy”ness rating: There was a LOT of kissing. Only one sex scene, if I recall, but a LOT of kissing. So many kinds...

Overall rating: B+

Bottom Line: An adorable book with the sweetest hero I’ve ever met and a nice, yet sassy, heroine who knows what she thinks she wants – and is definitely ready to go all out to get it.

Pages: 400
Published: October 13, 2009 (first published December 1, 2005)
Genre: Historical

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