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REVIEW: Kiss the Girl by Susan Sey

Dear Ms. Sey:

I saw someone talking about your self published effort on Twitter and immediately went to buy it. I liked your Berkley debut title, Money, Honey which was humorous and interesting contemporary romance. The look and feel of “Kiss the Girl” is certainly of traditionally published quality. Unfortunately very little about the story worked for me.

Susan Sey Kiss the GirlThe story begins with rich girl and famous humanitarian Nixie Leighton-Brace returning from Nairobi to rural Kenya with the necessary permits from the Minister of Public Health for their clinic’s standards of care to be posted in every rural hospital in Kenya.  She is also returning to break up with Dr. James Harper, son of the Senator from Virginia, who just happens to be cheating on her. She figured it out when she pulled on a pair of shorts that were James and found panties there that were not her own.  When she confronts James in full view of the cameras that follow Nixie everywhere, she is dumbfounded to find the other woman is her mother, Sloane.

Nixie has only known humanitarian work.  Her mother, a famous actress, and her father traversed the world’s most impoverished regions building homes, clinics, schools.  Upon seeing her fiancé and Sloane in mid coitus, Nixie quits the foundation and hightails it back to Washington, D.C. where the foundation’s apartment lies empty.  Nixie isn’t sure what she wants to do with herself, but she doesn’t want to be with her mother, Karl, or her fiancé.

Next door to Nixie resides Senator Larsen and once Larsen sets eyes on Nixie, she believes Nixie is just the right person for her son Erik.  Erik’s not convinced he wants to be the arm candy of some slightly socialite but he wants to use Nixie’s profile to help save the inner city clinic he runs with his best friend Mary Jane.

Karl has been her surrogate father since Nixie was eight and her biological father died.  He tries to convince Nixie to return to Kenya and when she refuses, he presents himself in D.C. with an incredible opportunity in Bumani to help abused and impoverished women. Not ready to give back to the world what everyone tells her she owes because of all that she has been given, Nixie declares she is going to help Erik and Mary Jane save their clinic and provide asthma treatment to inner city kids being made sick by the cheap paint and carpets used in government subsidized housing.  Nixie is a force to be reckoned with and soon she has set in a motion plans for a huge fundraising gala for the clinic.

Erik treats Nixie very poorly, insulting her intelligence, suggesting she won’t get her hands dirty, and treats her as if she is not a person deserving of respect.  This is based on nothing but Erik’s own assumptions about the type of person Nixie is.  Nixie, on the other hand, treats everyone as if they are interesting and valuable.  It’s one of the many gifts that Nixie has been blessed with, Erik later realizes.  Why Erik gets to act like he is superior with impunity, I do not know. I found him insufferable and unlikeable.  He was cruel to his mother. He was cruel to Nixie and frankly he was cruel to Mary Jane, particularly when he was screwing around with Nixie while trying to convince Mary Jane that they should not only date but perhaps get married.

Sloane and Mary Jane are both given story lines with Sloane’s being that she is really misunderstood and the times she has screwed her daughter’s boyfriends and lovers are for Nixie’s own good. Sloane was a bundle of mixed messages between the “i don’t feel shame” and  “shame is all I have” refrains. Mary Jane’s is slightly more interesting as she is in love with Tyrese Jones, an MBA from the hood who fell down the corporate ladder after and is now cooking the books for gangs.  Theirs was an interesting love story but one that only received a small portion of attention.

When Dr James Harper’s father, the Senator, discovers the fundraising gala, he essentially blackmails Nixie into meeting James at the gala to be publicly forgiven.  This is deemed whoring herself out by Erik.  Mind you, he’s not judging Nixie for these actions.

“Jesus, Nixie, take a look at yourself, will you?”  He frowned at her and rubbed his shoulder.  “You’re taking James Harper to the gala next week so you can forgive him, your mother can slap his face and his father can call him rehabilitated.  You’re whoring your personal life for the cause of the week while your advisor calls a press conference, just like always.  You haven’t changed.  You’ve had a change of venue, that’s all.”

She sucked in a sharp breath, hurt rolling over her in jagged waves.  “That was a cheap shot.  You think I want to make nice with James Harper?”

Erik shrugged.  “I don’t know what you want, Nixie.  I thought you came here to take back your self-respect, but you sold that to James’ daddy, didn’t you?”

“It was for a good cause,” she said slowly, an empty chill creeping into her chest.  Had Sloan felt this way when she’d stolen James? “Your cause, wasn’t it?”

He looked away and shoved both hands through that thick, wheat-colored hair.  “I’m not judging you, Nixie, okay?  You have every right to draw your own boundaries between what you owe the world and what you owe yourself.  We don’t agree on where they should be, that’s all.”

Toward the end, I am to buy into the idea that Nixie is just as corrupt morally as everyone around her, but the proper foundation is never laid. Nixie’s flaws include failing to stand up for herself but being a people pleaser isn’t on the same level as screwing your daughter’s fiancé (Sloane), using a young child for your own personal advancement (Karl), or fucking one girl while trying to get another girl to marry you (Erik). For most of the book I wished Nixie would run away with Mary Jane, the only other decent human being to pass through the pages. Alas, that is not the ending I received.

And in some strange irony, the ending to this “trying too hard” book is classic CareBear with every one married and having a happy ever after. Including Sloane. My eyebrows shot up in the standard what the fuck position and haven’t returned to their normal place on my forehead. I’ve a permanent “what you talking about Willis” expression now. D



Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and 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


  1. Ren
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 13:15:03

    I admire a heroine who, while experiencing jagged waves of hurt and empty chills in the chest, has the fortitude to focus on what really matters: the volume and hue of a man’s hair.

  2. Kim
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 13:30:00

    I enjoyed Money, Honey and was thinking about purchasing this ebook. I still might, but I must admit the review gives me pause. The one review cited over at Amazon compares Susan Sey’s books to Susan Elizabeth Phillips. You obviously don’t think so. :)

    @Jane: I’m unclear about two things here: Is there some deep dark secret that’s big enough that Nixie allows herself to be blackmailed? Also, does Mary Jane know Erik is dating others? Since you mention she loves another, I assume Erik doesn’t hope to marry her out of love, but on shared interests.

  3. Jane
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 13:35:45

    The deep dark secret is that the Senator won’t help Nixie’s fundraising efforts for the clinic.

    Mary Jane knows that Erik has inappropriate lustful feelings toward Nixie but I don’t recall he r being aware that he slept with Nixie and Nixie is very hurt when she finds out that Erik is trying to convince Mary J and to marry him.

  4. Kim
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 13:57:36

    Someone sleeps with your mother and this is all it takes to forgive? Even on behalf of a charity, Nixie must be a very forgiving soul.

  5. cbackson
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 14:02:39

    The only thing that interests me about this book is the story of Tyrese the disgraced MBA. I would totally read a romance about that character and a crusading lady doctor. But I wouldn’t plow through this to get to that: heroes who assume that heroines are spoiled just because they were born with money (I’m looking at you, Susan Elisabeth Philips) are one of my least favorite things ever. I’m betting Erik calls Nixie “Princess” in a derogatory manner at least once…

  6. Jane
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 14:42:59


    “You said I couldn’t speak of you in the third person anymore.”

    “So I get a patronizing nickname?”

    “Until you start catching the pukers ahead of time.”

  7. Jane
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 14:44:00

    “Real life is like that, Princess. You should get inside before you freeze to death.”

  8. Jane
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 14:46:25

    “Me,” he huffed out an incredulous laugh. ” I put Mary Jane at risk? Jesus, princess, that’s great…”

    (I could go on but I’m too lazy to type).

    It should be noted that Erik grew up rich and privileged as well but he’s not an entitled prince. Only Nixie is the entitled princess even though she spends most of her time building orphanages, digging wells, setting up clinics. etc etc

  9. Sarah
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 15:03:14

    DAMMIT JANE. I am reading this RIGHT NOW and had already started my list o’ rants about Eric, who is a complete douchetool, hoping that perhaps he’d grovel and turn the bad-hero-ness around. Alas, it is clearly not meant to be.

    My “Willis?” WTF moment is when Eric dismisses all of Nixie’s perfectly logical reasons for not eating meat (she’s seen the direct effects of famine, food shortages and poverty, so if her not eating meat helps to alleviate that, she’s all for it and thus has not ever eaten meat) and tells her she doesn’t take good care of herself, she’s too thin, and she should eat meat. Then he and a waitress guilt her into eating a burger.

    The whole theme that Nixie should in some way feel guilty for who she is and to whom she was born and what she’s inherited is infuriating to me, especially when it’s Eric who should feel guilty and grovel for being an asshat. I’m so bummed that this book doesn’t turn around.

  10. Jane
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 15:39:53

    Oh yes Sarah the “I know you really want to be a carnivore and not a vegetarian” was infuriating

  11. Dabney
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 16:17:30

    @Jane: Did she throw up afterwards? ‘Cause that’s usually what happens when a long-time vegetarian eats a burger?

    This does sound awful. Why do you think it turned out so poorly? Is it because it’s self-published and less-edited. I like Money Honey and really like Money Shot. The hero in the latter sounds like the utter opposite of Eric.

  12. Amarachi Whyte
    Jul 07, 2012 @ 12:31:56

    Eric is a douche screwing a girl and trying to get another marry him.For nixie i dnt understand why she cant stand up for herself and draw a line btw does she sucks up to.If she has been dissapointed by her parents severally to me she doesnt need to pls anybody but working towards changing the notion people have of her.And i hope maryjane and tyresejones gives us the happy ending we crave.

  13. FD
    Jul 07, 2012 @ 14:56:51

    H’mmm, sorry to the see the D and even more sorry to see the reasons for the D.
    I really liked Money Shot and Money Honey.

  14. Cally
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 11:30:06

    So not the book I was expecting this to be based on the cover, haha.

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