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REVIEW: And Then He Kissed Her by Laura Lee Guhrke

Dear Ms. Guhrke:

I admit to not buying your book when it first came out. It had nothing to do with you, the author, and everything to do with the fact I wasn’t really in love with the last couple books you put out. Further you wrote primarily in the Regency era which is done, dead, finito to me unless something really amazing comes along. But then, a funny thing happened on the way to the bookstore and that was I started seeing people talk about how great this book was. I read the excerpt and caved and bought the ebook version.

What a fool I was to think your best days were past you. And Then He Kissed Her was fresh, smart, and romantic. It’s the type of book that made me love romance so many years ago. In this volume, we see the beauty of awakening; not a woman to her sexuality, although that is part of it, but it is an awakening to self. Emma Dove throws off the mantle of propriety to live life because being alive is only half the game. You have to feel alive too.

Emma Dove is a girl bachelor in Victorian England. For the past five years she has been secretary extraordinaire to Viscount Marlowe who runs through women like Kleenex. She does everything for Marlowe from buying goodbye presents for his various mistresses to making sure the newspaper’s schedule is precise. What she really wants to be, though, is a published author. She has written several etiquette books but Marlowe refuses to publish them, believing the subject matter to be duller than dust.

Marlowe is a peer, but a disgraced one. He married when he was a young man and ended up getting a divorce, staining his family’s reputation and receiving a denouncement from the Queen. Despite the social stain, Marlowe makes quite a good living as a publishing tycoon. He enjoys thumbing his nose at society which is one of the reasons he hired Emma in the first place.

Emma is a practical woman. She understands that while Marlowe is handsome, he is a selfish man bent on his own pleasures. She put away sighs over him years ago. Marlowe knows that Ms. Dove is nicely formed, but values his secretary too much in order to have designs on her person. Yet when Ms. Dove throws off the shackles of her servitude to embrace life, Marlowe begins to look at her differently.

The book is told in three parts and at the end of each part, I thought to myself, the book is going to falter. When the secretary/employer barriers are removed, there won’t be any tension. When the writer/publisher barrier is removed, there won’t be any tension. When they become lovers, there won’t be any tension. But it never lagged, not once. It moved me from laughter to sadness to joy. I had a goofy smile on my face the entire time I read this book. Thank you for writing a fun but moving book with great character as Emma whose strength was that she took her chances to live her life to the fullest. A

Best regards,

Jane

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

13 Comments

  1. Jennie
    Mar 19, 2007 @ 17:19:07

    Oh, I think I need to buy this. I’ve actually never read a LLG but have been meaning to.

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  2. Ro
    Mar 19, 2007 @ 17:56:45

    I think I’m in the extreme minority but this book bored me to tears. The only redeeming quality for me was the setting: I adore the 1890s. Otherwise, I found it extremely predictable and the writing style did not move me at all. I’d give this a C+ because it was a pleasant, but ultimately forgettable read.

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  3. Danielle
    Mar 19, 2007 @ 18:21:24

    Oh, I really enjoyed this book, for me this book started out slow but then it really picked up.

    It was amazing to see Emma changed when she started standing up for herself and realized that life was slipping her by, well my whole attitude about her change (for the better). Before that she was a doormat not only for Marlowe, but for all of her aunt’s friend’s too!!!!!! She was always doing what was proper instead of what she really wanted to or say.

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  4. Jane A.
    Mar 19, 2007 @ 18:31:13

    This book was so good! I agree 100% with your A grade, it’s one of the best books I’ve read recently and will most likely be in my Top Ten list for 2007. (And if it’s not that means there are some *awesome* books coming our way! :) )

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  5. Marg
    Mar 19, 2007 @ 20:10:25

    I have never read LLG before either, and I have been seeing such good things bout this book everywhere! I might just start with this one!

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  6. Sybil
    Mar 19, 2007 @ 22:51:03

    Conor’s Way best book by her evah. Sez I.

    But I have this and plan to read it. After my omg-I-can’t-wait-to-read The Marriage Bed I had sworn off her forever. But Tara Marie’s review made me cave.

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  7. Tara Marie
    Mar 20, 2007 @ 01:46:35

    You know a book is good when you reread it as soon as you finish it. I did this with And Then He Kissed Her. But then I knew I would, with the exception of her last book, I’ve loved everything she’s written, even the love it or hate it book The Marriage Bed :D

    Emma’s growth throughout the story is handled beautifully, she doesn’t all of a sudden become this amazing independent person, she takes small and steady steps.

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  8. Estelle
    Mar 20, 2007 @ 02:30:55

    Ah…I’m wondering if I should buy this or not. The set-up seems similar to Guilty Pleasures, a book I did not much enjoy. Plus the boss/secretary angle in which the heroine is totally overlooked by the hero–for 5 years it seems in this book!–is really a turn off, I mean *really*. The ‘run[ing] through women like Kleenex’ angle is not something that will recommend the hero to me either. I’ve been tired of that kind of hero for quite a while now.

    So, despite all this, is the emotional pay-off worth it in your opinion? Normally I would just go on my way and never pick up this book but I’ve enjoyed some of Ms Guhrke’s books in the past and I like the way she writes.

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  9. Jane
    Mar 20, 2007 @ 07:03:26

    Estelle – I cannot even remember Guilty Pleasures but I do think the emotional payoff is worthwhile. As TM says, this is the story of Emma and her growth although you do get to see Harry grow. He is a person who can acknowledge a mistake and correct his behavior although it takes a while to get him to realize he actually is mistaken.

    Harry isn’t really a womanizer so much as he is a man of his times, taking his pleasure as men do with paid companions. He did love his wife very much and was hurt by her plus his divorce has made it difficult for his sisters to make a good match. They are often snubbed in society. So he’s paid dearly for falling in love early on and he’s very reluctant to be party to that emotion again.

    I thought all around, it was a really well developed piece.

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  10. nath
    Mar 20, 2007 @ 07:27:05

    Definitively need to buy it… I have passed over it so many times and consider buying it… but hasn’t done so yet. Going to remedy the situation as soon as possible :D

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  11. Estelle
    Mar 20, 2007 @ 09:39:45

    Thank you for the answer Jane! that seals it then: not going to buy. I’m not in the mood to read a romance in which one of the leads has been deeply in love before. I’ve had an aversion to that kind of book ever since I read Celeste Bradley’s the Tiger’s Woman. I’m a picky reader when it comes to romance. If I’m going to read some other kind of fiction I can stomach absolutely anything and even like it but when it comes to romance I want to read about a First Love Only Love kind of thing. Yeah, like I said: picky reader!

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  12. Thursday Thirteen: The Historical Wishlist « Milady Insanity
    Apr 04, 2007 @ 18:44:47

    [...] Laura Lee Guhrke’s And Then He Kissed Her. Jane gave it an A, so it’s a good way to test our hypothesis that our taste in fantasy is pretty close, but not [...]

  13. Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary » If You Like . . . Julie Garwood, the Historicals hosted by Jill Myles
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 08:49:15

    [...] Lee Guhrke is another that came onto my radar last year with And Then He Kissed Her. DA reviewed this one too. Her Victorians tend to be lighter and definitely a witty, fun read with a strong, heroine-centric [...]

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