Dear Ms. Kimberly:
I meant to review this near your release date and forgot. It’s set in India and at first I was resistant to read it because there’s this problem of setting British people in India although to not write about that time period would be rather like forgetting a huge swath of historical events. If a reader has a big problem with British characters in India then I would skip this book based on that alone. But if a reader is interested in a fresh independent woman then I think An Inconvenient Kiss would appeal.
Georgiana Phillips is the beautiful daughter of titled lord and is expected to make a brilliant match. She’s caught in a scandalous kiss with her brother’s friend Simon Ashford. Ashford offers for her to salvage her reputation but instead of marrying, Georgiana flees with her grandfather, a renowned scholar. Together she, her cousin Jane, and the grandfather travel around the world. After six years, they find themselves in a India where her priggish brother Nathaniel is stationed. He is worried that Georgiana’s fast reputation will result in embarrassment to him and prevent further promotions. He tasks his friend Simon, who is now a soldier under Nathaniel’s command, to watch over her.
For Simon’s part, he rather likes Georgiana both as she was back in England, a sweet young thing, and now in India this bright, independent woman. Georgiana was a beautiful girl but she’s turned into a breathtaking woman who enjoyed her six years of freedom and she’s unhappy that Simon is trailing her about and monitoring all her activities.
They exhibit a love / hate dynamic. Georgiana is smart but Simon is equally so making their sparring entertaining and crackling with energy. It’s easy to see that they’ll fall into bed together because they can barely be in the room with each other without generating heat. Although in the beginning, their interactions are primarily one of adversaries but it changes quickly to reluctant admirers and then to committed lovers.
There is a sort of noblesse oblige in Georgiana’s study of “native populations” including their language, beliefs, habits and economy. They start by examining the wares of the population, meeting with trades people and then exploring other aspects of their lives from there. I did appreciate when Simon pointed out that there were many factions that made up India including Hindus, Moslems, Sikhs, and more. And there was definitely an anti colonial attitude in the book, in part because Nath, the brother, is primarily the villain of the story. But… at least one tribe was described as savage and capable of human sacrifice. I do think some of that was offset by the reprehensible actions of Nath.
Georgiana’s reluctance to give up her freedom and independence was understandable but what didn’t quite work for me was her complete resistance to Simon. They had an attraction and if she was really as independent and free as she was described, why would she have a problem having an affair with him? They were around each other regularly and were even accused by others of having that non existent affair. In truth, I wished Georgiana was the woman of the reputation rather than only a woman with a reputation. Even she says later “I have the reputation. I may as well have the fun.” But why not have that fun sooner? Was it to convince me that Georgiana was a good person because she wasn’t sleeping with every male from Egypt to China and back again?
The reconnection between Georgiana and Simon was sweet, though, and I enjoyed their connection. Simon was enamored with Georgiana for a long time and he stands up for her frequently even against her brother, Nath. Nath was just a vile human being. The things he says about his sister are vile and cruel. I’d have not only slapped him across the face, but kicked him in the balls. Sadly neither of these things happen. I don’t feel like he got a good enough comeuppance. Overall, I enjoyed this historical romance. I’m not sure if I liked it because of the setting or in spite of it. It’s not a story that could be told in England, though, and from that standpoint I’m glad. B-