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