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REVIEW: Tempted by His Kiss by Tracy Ann Warren

Dear Ms. Warren:

book review It’s been a while since I’ve read a book of yours. I know I read your debut books that were released back to back but for some reason, I fell off the bandwagon. I was curious about what your move to Avon would produce and so picked up and read In His Kiss.

Cade Byron, the younger brother of the Duke of Clyborne, has returned from Portugal. Haunted by the war, he wants nothing more than to hole up on his inherited estate and be alone.

…Cade mused, knowing he’d forced his brother out-‘out of his house, out of his life. Just as he wanted.
And I do, he assured himself. I want solitude. Solitude and peace.
Taking up the bottle again, he refilled his glass, the last drops of whiskey draining out in a slow drip-drip-drip. Setting the bottle aside, he lifted the glass to his lips.

Meg Amberley, all of nineteen years and orphaned, is on her way to live with her elderly aunt in Scotland when she and her maid get stranded in the snow near Cade’s estate. She literally forces herself on him, not quite ready yet to go live in exile in the north. Meg challenges Cade to eat with her, read with her, play chess with her. She wreaks havoc with his supposed need for solitude, unwilling to abide by his grumpy attitude. Unfortunately, once the snow melts, visitors come and Meg’s presence in Cade’s home leads them into a faux engagement. Cade’s past, however, threatens the safety of their relationship.

The writing was very competent and the book started with a lot of promise.   I appreciated Cade’s tortured background and Meg’s desire for flirtation and fun before hieing herself off to the hinterlands.   I thought that their banter and their attraction was genuine.    What seemed like an internally, character driven story morphed into a suspense driven one. This lent a very episodic feel to the book, one that missed opportunities and motifs that were presaged in the first third.

Any foreshadowing appeared for naught. For example, there were quite a few references to Cade’s overindulgence with liquor yet he has no difficulty turning away from it when Meg becomes important to him. What he endured in Portugal during the war was truly horrific and it is easy to see someone coming out of that experience embittered and dependent on something to dull the painful memories. Yet, like the liquor, the past seems to be easily overcome by the presence of one lithe young thing ala Meg.

As for Meg, she has suffered her own loss. Her father died just five months previous and her mother four years before that. She’s essentially alone in the world and there’s little internal introspection to get us to understand exactly how is it that she is enduring.

The last third of the book was given over to a suspense plot which resulted in Meg acting like a foolish girl in order for her to be placed in jeopardy so that there was external tension placed on Meg and Cade’s relationship. I felt like this was unnecessary given the rich backstory that Meg and Cade had been bestowed. So much could have been made of their loss and mutual victory over the pain of loss. Instead, the suspense devolved into almost a farce as Cade and Meg competed to be more foolish than the other. Once Meg, in particular, had acted with such lack of thought and care, it made every action thereafter grate on my nerves.

C-

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

48 Comments

  1. never2many
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 13:20:26

    why are you deleting comments/

    From Jane: we believe in the rights to maintain individuals privacy on this blog. Just as you would not want me to post your personal information such as your residence address, employment, etc. Please respect that or you will continue to have your comments deleted or your account banned.

  2. never2many
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 13:32:58

    Protection of Certain Personally-Identifying Information
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  3. Jane
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 13:35:51

    @never2many First, we are not wordpress.org. We are a self hosted entity that is run on an open source software platform called WordPress but WordPress cannot dictate to us how to utilize our site. Second, we did not reveal any personal information including your email address. Third, comments from you that do not pertain to the review will be marked spam.

  4. Randi
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 14:02:43

    Oh god, a heroine who went TSTL. I hate those.

  5. Anonymous
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 14:16:33

    Meg Amberley, all of nineteen years and orphaned, is on her way to live with her elderly aunt in Scotland when she and her made get stranded in the snow near Cade's estate.

    What’s a “made”? Why would any competent reviewer not utilize spellcheck and proofread his/her review carefully before releasing it for reader consideration?

    It’s as bad as “neither hole.”

    Darn, people are going to read this poorly edited review and it will probably reflect upon the whole of Dear Author, costing the credibility of blameless reviewers who actually put time and care into their craft. It’s unfair but that’s just the way it goes.

    To paraphrase one remarkable poster: “If you want people to think you're a competent, professional writer, you need to produce competent, professional writing. And that means using spell check, my dear.”

  6. Jane
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 14:18:42

    @Anonymous Thanks for pointing out my error. I’ll definitely make a correction.

  7. RStewie
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 14:30:49

    Despite the minor thread hijacking, and the one spelling error, I think this was a great review. I appreciate the knowledge that the book started out good but didn’t deliver. There are few things more disappointing than a great story that just doesn’t make it to the end.

  8. Janine
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 14:37:35

    @Anonymous:

    Your point about the error is well taken. But spell check probably didn’t catch “made” used as a noun, because it’s a legitimate way to spell the verb.

  9. SonomaLass
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 15:01:51

    Thanks, Jane. I was leery of this one anyway, since 19 is an awfully young heroine for my taste these days. But heroines who act foolishly so that they end up needing rescuing is a hot button for me, so I know for sure this is not my cuppa.

    I’ve noticed in several historicals lately that the hero gets over himself unbelievably fast. Broody angsty hero, often with bad war memories, check. Drinks too much, check. Avoids women or sticks to loose women, check. Meets heroine, lifestyle makes 180* turn with no problem? I have issues with that.

    Elizabeth Hoyt handles the bad war memories really well in her Four Soldiers books so far. I thought Julia London’s The Book of Scandal dealt well with the hero stopping his drinking and late nights with the guys — not all at once, and not without difficulty. Having his wife back (although not on the best of terms) made him want to change his ways, but he couldn’t do it all at once, and I found that very believable.

  10. Anonymous
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 15:08:46

    @Janine:

    Your point about the error is well taken. But spell check probably didn't catch “made” used as a noun, because it's a legitimate way to spell the verb.

    Don’t be simple. I said:

    What's a “made”? Why would any competent reviewer not utilize spellcheck and proofread his/her review carefully before releasing it for reader consideration?

    It's as bad as “neither hole.”

    Spell checks would not “catch” the words “neither” and “hole” either, would they?

  11. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 15:19:06

    Wow Anonymous, that’s some venom over a typo.

  12. Miki
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 16:05:11

    I wonder if this was the book I kept thinking I’d finally found a TSTL hero. I ended up giving this the equivalent of a C+…I’ll try another of her books, but I won’t be first in line on the release day, y’know?

  13. Courtney Milan
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 16:06:28

    There’s a hierarchy of badness of typos:

    1. Typo in White House directive that misdirects 4-star generals, starts war, and eventually causes nuclear holocaust: DEATH DEATH DEATH.
    2. Typo in published book, fixed permanently in digital and/or print media and sold for money: UNPROFESSIONAL AND SLOPPY.
    3. Typo in easily fixed blog post on hobby reviewer’s site where the reviewer does not get paid: OOPS.

    Correcting #3 is all good. Treating #3 as if it is #1 (or even #2) is maid of fail.

  14. DS
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 16:13:39

    The cover is very retro isn’t it? I actually thought when I glanced at the cover that Jane was reviewing an older book rather than one just published. Goes I guess with the TSTL heroine and the healing power of the love of a TSTL heroine.

  15. GrowlyCub
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 16:14:35

    Courtney, you didn’t just do that. I cannot believe you did this… rofl.

    My cats are all looking at me like I have lost it, I’m laughing so hard! :)

  16. Sunita
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 16:21:45

    This is a really helpful review, Jayne. I’ve looked at Warren’s books before but not picked one up. The plot setup reminds me of Balogh, but I’m having trouble with the hero’s name. Byron is OK, but Cade? Lord Cade Byron? That just sounds odd to me. Is Cade as a first name something people have run across in research on this era?

    ETA: +1 Courtney.
    And I’m still trying to figure out the proper form of address for our Maid of Fail.

  17. ME
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 17:07:08

    Good one Courtney. Thanks for the review Jayne. I think I will pick this one up, just getting back into historicals and loving them.

    As for anon….sheesh, get over it already. That thread is so yesterday. Let’s keep it real folks.

  18. Tiffany
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 17:08:34

    Courtney,

    That just put the biggest smile on my face! LOL

  19. Sunita
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 19:40:09

    Oops, sorry, I should have responded to Jane, not Jayne!

  20. Maya M.
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 20:04:28

    Who knew the drama that could lurk behind a pastel Old Skool cover facade?

    I have a sneaking suspicion that people who read an earlier review on this site and who perused ‘Anonymous’ comments above have a pretty shrewd idea of who ‘Anonymous’ really is.

    And, though it’s been said before, I think it worth repeating:

    ‘maid of fail’ = *snerk*

  21. Anonymous
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 20:08:05

    @Courtney Milan:

    There's a hierarchy of badness of typos:

    1. Typo in White House directive that misdirects 4-star generals, starts war, and eventually causes nuclear holocaust: DEATH DEATH DEATH.
    2. Typo in published book, fixed permanently in digital and/or print media and sold for money: UNPROFESSIONAL AND SLOPPY.
    3. Typo in easily fixed blog post on hobby reviewer's site where the reviewer does not get paid: OOPS.

    Correcting #3 is all good. Treating #3 as if it is #1 (or even #2) is maid of fail.

    If hobby reviewers lack the very skills for which they fault others they have no more credibility than the writers they deign to criticize.

    In relation to this comparison:

    Novel: 65,000 + words representing weeks if not months of work (prewriting, writing, postwriting, submission, edits/rewrites, promotional efforts)

    vs.

    Hobby Blog Review: 597 words representing one hour or less of work (prewriting optional, submission, edits/rewrites, promotion non applicable)

    In terms of percentages, the single typo in the review is far more glaring and represents greater sloppiness than an infrequent error present in a lengthier more involved project.

    I’ve got much more respect for someone with the chops to sit down and invest the time and the pluck to create a novel — even a poor novel — than an amateur reviewer who can’t be bothered to read one and a half pages of typed material to make sure she’s not making keystroke errors, employing improper word usage, etc..

    As for anon….sheesh, get over it already. That thread is so yesterday. Let's keep it real folks.

    Yes, let’s. Tell you what. When you nice people cease crucifying published authors — people with more purpose and industry and commitment than yourselves (let’s face it — if you had those qualities why would you be mocking published authors over typos?) — I’ll make it a point to find something better to do with my time than remind you nice people that you lack the room to talk.

  22. Anonymous
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 20:21:53

    And, though it's been said before, I think it worth repeating:

    ‘maid of fail' = *snerk*

    *grins* You do strike me as the type too lacking in originality to coin new phrases, opting instead to ape your betters in order to dramatise your non-contribution.

    Please respect the board and cease any vain additional attempts at intelligent communication.

  23. joanne
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 20:49:54

    *totally ignoring Courtney Milans’ ability to make me snort my diet coke*

    I’m so disappointed. I’m on a (probably should read another) historical romance reading binge and I have been longing for a really good tortured-hero or beauty and the beast story.

    I can tolerate a pretty rainbow ending — or even babies & butterflies for those types of books — but either protagonist being foolish is too much.

    I like the cover, though. It’s nice to see actual faces occasionally.

  24. Lori
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 21:03:05

    When you nice people cease crucifying published authors -‘ people with more purpose and industry and commitment than yourselves (let's face it -‘ if you had those qualities why would you be mocking published authors over typos?) -‘ I'll make it a point to find something better to do with my time than remind you nice people that you lack the room to talk.

    Awwww, sounds like somebody needs to spend a little time in the Harmony Hut!

    Thanks for the review, Jane. Insightful as always.

  25. Maya M.
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 21:36:24

    “Please respect the board and cease any vain additional attempts at intelligent communication.”

    Wow. I wasn’t aware that people other than the site administrators got to decide who participates, and who is a ‘better’ and an ‘aper’.

  26. Anonymous
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 22:10:31

    @Maya M.:

    “Please respect the board and cease any vain additional attempts at intelligent communication.”

    Wow. I wasn't aware that people other than the site administrators got to decide who participates, and who is a ‘better' and an ‘aper'.

    They only get to decide when they post error free messages. *winks and smiles*

  27. Jane
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 22:13:14

    I don’t want to play thread mom but either comment on the review or expect your comments to be deleted.

  28. Anonymous
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 22:21:11

    @Jane:

    I don't want to play thread mom but either comment on the review or expect your comments to be deleted.

    The review is a very nice amateur review of a quality suitable to its location and its unprofessional purpose. Your efforts are appreciated by your audience. I give the review a C -.

  29. Cassia
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 00:33:41

    When I was young and oh so naive, I used to scream when I encountered TSTL hero/ines. It used to drive me insane, and then I gave up historical romances. Voila, TSTL heroines screaming and fainting all over the place were gone!

    Then I picked up this book due to the cover and actually gave it a read. Jane, like you said, the beginning was great and then it all went downhill from here. Cade seemed totally bipolar in some situations and if he was a real guy, man, I would love to give him a swift kick in the ‘nades.

    [edited for lack of content pertinent to the review]

  30. GrowlyCub
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 04:27:22

    I’ll just point out that many sites do IP tracking, so while one can hide behind an assumed name, site owners have easy access to our information, if they so desire…

  31. ME
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 05:26:35

    I think we should just ignore Anon. He/she obviously craves the attention that her/his immature comments generate.

  32. JoB
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 09:23:56

    In re ‘Cade’.

    ‘Cade’ hits on Googlebooks as an uncommon English patronym. It’s a minor C in Shakespeare. ‘Jack Cade’, Henry VI.

    I’ve never seen it used in the period as a first name.
    I’d call it possible, but not likely. It could be a nickname for Kincade.

    So the short answer is — ‘No, not so much a period-appropriate first name.’ To me — this is just me — it ‘sounds’ a little 1980s-daytime-television-ish. It’s a minor matter, but the editor should have flagged it for the author’s reconsideration. IMHO.

    @ Courtney. Title for a time-travel Romance about a ditsy Valley Girl who ends up in 1550. Maid of Fail.

    [edited for lack of content pertinent to the review]

  33. Anonymous
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 09:58:36

    [edited for lack of content pertinent to the review]

    @ Courtney. Title for a time-travel Romance about a ditsy Valley Girl who ends up in 1550. Maid of Fail.

    Make sure Ditsy V. Girl takes on Torquemada and all the other intellectually challeneged freaks who believed only particular books were fit to be read and that only particular people ought to be allowed to read them. That would mean revising the setting to the 1400’s instead but….

    “Whaddya mean there’s an index of forbidden books? EW AS IF!”

  34. ME
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 10:04:52

    Anon, I don’t think any of the ladies that run this site purport to be “professional reviewers”. They run a blog and give their opinion. If you think their musings are subpar, I’m not sure why you’re hanging around. This is all subjective anyway, so I’m not sure why you’re taking all of it so seriously, or rather, personally. Kind of sad really.

    Your need to insult shows a severe lack of manners and confidence. I saw this in a whole host of comments on another thread. It’s sad. People should be able to state their opinions in a calm, professional manner, without attacks.

    Have a good one all. I’m done here.

  35. Anonymous
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 10:15:50

    @ME:

    I think we should just ignore Anon. He/she obviously craves the attention that her/his immature comments generate.

    Anon, I don't think any of the ladies that run this site purport to be “professional reviewers”. They run a blog and give their opinion. If you think their musings are subpar, I'm not sure why you're hanging around. This is all subjective anyway, so I'm not sure why you're taking all of it so seriously, or rather, personally. Kind of sad really.

    Your need to insult shows a severe lack of manners and confidence. I saw this in a whole host of comments on another thread. It's sad. People should be able to state their opinions in a calm, professional manner, without attacks.

    Should not all this be edited for lack of pertinent content as well?

    P.S. I’m hanging around strictly for the cheap entertainment factors.

  36. Jane
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 10:20:32

    @Anonymous You can hang around, but you will be banned from commenting. You clearly aren’t interested in participating in any conversation. You’ve had plenty of opportunity to make your points about the quality of our reviews.

  37. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 10:27:14

    ‘Cade' hits on Googlebooks as an uncommon English patronym. It's a minor C in Shakespeare. ‘Jack Cade', Henry VI.

    I've never seen it used in the period as a first name. I'd call it possible, but not likely. It could be a nickname for Kincade.

    So the short answer is -‘ ‘No, not so much a period-appropriate first name.' To me -‘ this is just me -‘ it 'sounds' a little 1980s-daytime-television-ish. It's a minor matter, but the editor should have flagged it for the author's reconsideration. IMHO.

    I'll agree that “Cade” strikes me as modern, but considering that I found the following Surnames used as Christian names in either Who’s Who in Late Hanoverian Britain or my 1779 edition of The Peerage, it's not out of the question: Granville, Richmal, Sydney, Spencer, Rowland, Heneage, Washington, Vere, Willoughby, Anne-Holles (yes, first name for a man!), Sackville, and Brownlow.

  38. JoB
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 10:57:20

    @ Kalen

    Yes, indeed. ‘Cade’ is perfectly possible as a first name taken from a traditional family name. There’s no reason a Regency character couldn’t be named ‘Cade’ or ‘Case’ or ‘Cody’. They’re all plausible. An author can’t be faulted for using a name not documented in use in the period.

    Still, that ‘modern sound’ would give me a little blip in the believe-meter.

    ‘Arcenbryght’ is just as unusual as Cade, but I didn’t have an instant’s doubt of it.

  39. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 11:20:00

    When it comes to names, I feel like we can’t win for trying. *sigh* We get nitpicked for using unusual–but perfectly period-‘names, we get laughed at for using outlandish-‘but again, perfectly period names–names (Ravensclaw, Angelstone), and we get slammed for using common names (I got ripped a new one in a review of my first book because Elizabeth Hoyt had a “Georgina” and I had a “Georgianna” one month apart; hello, George and feminized versions thereof were THE most common name/s of the era).

    What's a writer to do?

  40. JoB
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 11:40:32

    @ Kalen.

    I feel your pain.
    I’m thinking of naming a French girl, ‘Marianne’. This will prove to be a mistake.

  41. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 12:01:32

    I'm thinking of naming a French girl, ‘Marianne'. This will prove to be a mistake.

    LOL!

  42. Robin
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 14:00:13

    When it comes to names, I feel like we can't win for trying.

    I agree. We say we want distinctive characters, but sometimes that can be measured in narrow terms. We readers often have ideas about what is historically accurate that may not be right, but we hold to them b/c a) we’ve been conditioned by the genre itself to expect certain names, b) character names are definitely part of the character’s description, and c) we can have contradictory wants in terms of characters – want “historical” name but tolerate modern manners, etc.

    I say go for the unique name because not every reader will criticize and it’s not predictable how readers will react. Plus IMO we need to be reconditioned to appreciate historical diversity of names.

  43. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 14:08:26

    I say go for the unique name because not every reader will criticize and it's not predictable how readers will react. Plus IMO we need to be reconditioned to appreciate historical diversity of names.

    Jo’s ‘Arcenbryght' sure makes the grade (as so all the characters in the family, LOL!).

    I had a similar problem to my “George” problem with my second book. I chose something unusual (or so I thought) for my heroine: Imogen. And then a couple of months before my book hit the shelf, Eloisa James came out with a book with heroine of the same name. *sigh*

    I find the name thing really interesting. When my first book came out, I was told by a couple of writers at a conference that they’d loved the book, but wished the hero had been named something sexy, like “Jack” or “Jake” (note: these names don't hit the *sexy* for me). Now at the time, I was in a writing group where the other three members were working on books with heroes named Jack, Jake and Jake. I swear I blew my drink out my nose laughing.

  44. MaryK
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 14:19:29

    @JoB: Maybe you could work the origin of the name into the text?

  45. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 14:28:12

    @JoB: Maybe you could work the origin of the name into the text?

    She did. The father had a thing for history. It was really well done and quite funny.

  46. JoB
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 19:28:52

    @ Kalen

    I noticed the Imogens and wondered about it.

    Hmmm . . . I hmmmed to myself. Maybe it’s one of these meme thingums.

    @ MaryK —

    Bryght is Jo Beverley’s character.
    I love him.
    Hopelessly, since he is fictional.

  47. MaryK
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 20:14:47

    Yeah, I know. I was talking about the French girl, Marianne.

  48. JoB
    Jun 12, 2009 @ 00:05:51

    @Mary K —
    The problem is, my character, (currently Marianne,) was born about a decade before ‘Marianne — Symbol of France’.

    It is all just confusing and distracting. This will teach me not to fall in love with place-holder character names, now won’t it?

    Maybe I can find something Medieval.

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