Thursday, June 26

His Wicked Kiss by Gaelen Foley

Book 7 in the Knight Miscellany Series

     Foley is masterful. I've decided she's truly and utterly a mastermind at creating heroines I really, really enjoy.

    Eden Farraday is another one of my 'top five heroines of all time' - which means Foley now holds two of the top five spots for me (with the other heroine being 'Dan' from Prince Charming and a close runner up being Jacinda from Lady of Desire). To be honest, I almost wish the heroes would stop coming in and muddling things up for me, because I would totally read about these women and their adventurous, awesome lives without any romance. But "Black Jack", Lord Jack Knight, does sail into the picture, so I digress.

     Eden is a woman raised in the jungle; her scholar of a father spends his time researching plants that can be turned into medicine. But when he loses his patron, instead of sensibly deciding to return to England, he decides to push forward deeper into the jungle - beyond the Orinoco Delta and into the unknown (and known) dangers of the Amazon. Eden has had enough of the wilds. She longs for the glamorous ballrooms of high society and love - and not from the creepy, over-protective Australian, Connor, her father's assistant. Jack, for his part, is "simply" (ahem: secret mission) sailing through the Orinoco Delta with a shipment of goods to go to England when he spots Eden sitting in a tree above the river. When Eden begs him to take her to England however, he refuses and leaves her in the woods after one hot, scorching kiss. However Eden refuses to be deterred and decides to stowaway on Jack's ship; from there, the book follows Eden and Jack as they discover passion, love, and one another's secrets together.

     The plot was entertaining as always - politics, intrigue, etc. Jack is a very conflicted man who is greatly scarred by his past hurts - mostly emotional. As his true father was the "Killarney Crusher" prizefighter, naturally Jack wins most of the physical battles he engages in. His tenderness with Eden, as well as the respect and admiration of his crew, show us that he is more than just a brute though - he has a gentleman's soul. What I think truly made this book so spectacular for me was Foley's willingness to really draw out Jack's emotional journey from close-hearted Blackguard to compassionate, trusting lover. Even after Eden and Jack's marriage, the problems are just beginning and I loved that.

     The best moment in the book actually came from one of these heart-breaking conflicts. Foley wrote a fight between Jack and Eden so masterfully I could truly understand and agree with both of them; both were so hurt and stubborn, their dialogue was so raw and real, I actually found myself tearing up in sympathy for both of them. It made the HEA that much better when they came around to one another's point of view - they worked hard to deserve it.

     The second best moment of the book is all Eden though - when she is discovered on the ship and the crew surround her. Her brave fight and defiance of good ol' Cap'n Jack endeared me to her and earned her a place in my top five. Bravo, Eden - for your bravery, your love, your adaptability, and your intelligence. Jack's acceptance of Eden's adorable bluestocking nature was also a plus - as well as her immediate understanding of his noble heart, even when he refused to accept her words of praise for him. They struggled, but in the end they truly amazed me with the depth of their commitment and love for one another.

     What brought this book down for me? Near the beginning of the second half of the book, I was unsure I recognized who Eden was anymore - she'd turned into a high society lady, but too quickly for me to catch it, and suddenly her bratty and uppity behavior was all up in my grill. For his part, Jack reacted very defensively to her cold shoulder (which was cold for a long, long while) and became kind of a grumpy Neanderthal. I chalked it up to Eden's over zealousness to truly live her glamorous dreams and Jack's bone-headed inability to trust anyone and general fear of society people. Jack's pain here is evident, and I truly felt bad for him since Eden's inability to forgive seemed mightily unjustified. Eden and Jack eventually go back to normal, but this 150 page weird "Who The Fuck is this New and Shitty Eden" brought the book down in my esteem a lot. I was glad to see Eden return to normal near the end, and Jack too.

Favorite Quotes: 

While discussing including the Duke of Wellington, famous for his battle strategy in defeating Napolean, in their secret plans:
"Can he be trusted?" [Jack said.]
"Jack, he's Wellington," Damien snorted.

Without warning, she hurled her machete - it flew through the air and plunged into the mast quite near Jack's head.
... "Miss Farraday," he reproached her with an indulgent tsk, tsk. "You stabbed my ship."

"Sexy"ness rating: There's less erotic behavior in this book than the other's I've read by Foley so far due to the squabbling nature of our leading lord and lady, but the scenes are no less steamy and delectable.

Overall Rating: B

Bottom Line: Eden is a heroine you'll instantly fall in love with and Jack is an adorable wounded hero who gets a second chance and land lubber life due to his new, loving wife. Now all Foley needs to do is pull out that section with Eden's bratty behavior and we'll all be happy! 

Pages: 434
Published: 2006
Genre: Historical

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