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After the Kiss Mass Market Paperback – 20 December 2000
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- Publisher : Avon US (20 December 2000)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0380812983
- ISBN-13 : 978-0380812981
- Dimensions : 10.64 x 2.44 x 17.15 cm
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AFTER THE KISS is a historical romance, which takes your breath away. It is written by a talented author who knows how to capture the reader's attention and keep it there until the end.
I'll start off by saying that I did stay with this book - quite devotedly, I might add - and something kept drawing me back to it - which is why I gave it 3 stars. Anything that keeps my attention deserves at least a few stars, but it was probably out of curiosity, some self-admitted (embarrassingly so) voyeurism, and positive experiences with this author that my interest was held. The story and the characters did not. I think Karen Ranney is an unusual author, and I find her books both similar and very different from each other. Till Next We meet and My Beloved were beautiful love stories, very different in their own right, and I am glad I was steered toward those books. But this one left me scratching my head.
On one level this book could be considered sort of a Kama Sutra for regency readers. It undoubtedly has a heavy erotic theme, from the questionable books with vivid sexual pictures that form a fulcrum for the plot, to the spontaneous sexual interludes the H & h have every time they look at each other. Or smell each other. Or think about each other.
Michael is a very underdeveloped character. We are led to believe he is driven by orderliness, planning his days and his life on a rigid schedule. Somehow, with one short introduction to Margaret, he throws that all away and becomes this spontaneous, passionate, throw-caution-to-the-wind sort of a guy. I didn't buy it. There just wasn't anything convincing that would support this huge shift in his personality. No major life-altering event, no development of a relationship with Margaret that would drive him to reevaluate his need for order. In fact, it only makes him appear incredibly horny. He pulls Margaret into a relationship that is certain to guarantee her ruin, without a thought to any consequences. He pulls some pretty stupid blunders that directly affected her honor, and then realizes it afterwards. This did not add to Michael's integrity - or his intelligence - in any way. I got the impression he was thinking with the brain that was not in his cranial cavity, if you know what I mean.
I didn't feel a lot of connection with Margaret either. Boy, she is a pushover. "Easy" would be the modern term. On one hand, I understood and appreciated her loneliness and the need to feel some connection and passion, and I appreciate the double standard women faced (and still do) regarding sexual freedom. But, considering the severity of the consequences, I thought she had little self-worth. In fact, neither of these two had any more insight into their actions than adolescents. I just didn't find it terribly romantic.
The writing - some needless repetition that I found distracting. We are incessantly reminded that Michael should be working on the Cyrillic cipher, and he crooks his eyebrow - a lot. Suspension of belief is very necessary - at one point, Michael dismisses the modiste, and he and Margaret have a go at it on the floor with the modiste's ribbons, while the butler and the modiste are presumably out in the hallway.....waiting. I couldn't even get into the scene, thinking about them on the other side of the door. I just think that could have been done with a lot more taste, and still retained the passion and the intrigue of being discovered.
I got the feeling that Michael was stuck somewhere at about age 17, and was now able to find a release for his hormones. He accosts Margaret in front of his butler, for crying out loud. This phrase: "His erection, eternally tumescent and almost boyishly eager, strained against his trousers." That explains Michael, to a tee. Eternally tumescent. In fact, "tumescent" is used more in this book than in any book I've ever read.
At one point, Michael arrives at Margaret's cottage and pleads with her to reconsider their alliance, even if only temporarily. She says no. Very clearly - no. He then picks her up and loads her into the carriage, even as she fights and struggles with him. I didn't like this. I don't find it titillating, I don't find it romantic - I just don't like it. This was a big turn off for me, and put a halt to any concern I may have been able to muster up for Michael.
END OF SPOILERS:
I think the author would like us to believe that there was an initial animal attraction between Michael and Margaret, which begins as "curiosity" and "fascination," manifesting itself in passion, and resulting in true love. This would have worked if there had been some demonstration of how this evolved, but I just couldn't buy the curiosity/fascination bit evolving into the merging of two souls, with nothing in between except erotica. More time was spent on the erotic nature of their relationship - including a fair amount of time with ribbons, and a specific focus on Margaret's nipples. Sorry, but I got tired of this. I can only recommend this if you like Ranney's other works, if you are interested in reading something a bit heavy in the erotica department, and if you are a very patient and forgiving reader.
There was substance to both Michael and Margaret as well as depth to their story. We saw their attraction evolve into great desire and, further, into great love. Michael was a man to only fall once, and fall hard. Which he did. And Margaret,...well, she was utterly enraptured by Michael.
By the way, anyone familiar with the history of this era will recognize that Ms. Ranney carefully adhered to the customs of the period. Very well, in fact.
Quite a beautiful story, beautifully written. I enjoyed immersing myself in it.
Here I go again, passing out five stars like candy. The thing is, a friend and reviewer, Penny Black, whose tastes mirror mine (except for her mysteries:) has recently told me of some of her favorite novels. I love them too. So, consequently, I've been on a five-star rampage lately. Another I loved was Till Next We Meet .
Enjoy your reading! :)
This was a full length novel. It kept my interest, but I wasn't wowed until the 70% point. Then I was very pleased with what happened. I loved Michael's choices.
My complaints: Some of the early parts seemed to drag. (CAUTION SPOILER: I wanted to know more details of Michael's financial changes and activities at the end. I wanted to know what changes he forced on his mother and sisters and their reactions.)
There were several sex scenes, but they didn't interest me. I skimmed most of them.
Narrative mode: 3rd person. Kindle count story length: 4,965 (252 KB) 388 pages per Amazon. Swearing language: mild. Sexual language: mild. Number of sex scenes: 5. Setting: 1820 England. Copyright: 2000. Genre: regency romance.