Tuesday, February 03, 2009

His Wicked Kiss by Gaelen Foley

From emerald jungles to the high seas to the glittering ballrooms of Regency London, beloved author Gaelen Foley tells a sweeping, sensual tale of the ruggedly handsome Lord Jack Knight and the passionate beauty who lays claim to his heart.

An English rose blooming in the untamed jungles of South America, Eden Farraday lives a life of independence–unheard of for a lady–with her doctor-turned-scientist father. But Eden misses England desperately. When the dangerous and darkly charming Lord Jack Knight sails into her life, she seizes her chance to return to civilization, stowing away aboard his London-bound ship.

Roguish and charismatic, a self-made shipping tycoon with a shadowy past and a well-guarded heart, Jack is sailing on a vital secret mission. When the redheaded temptress is discovered aboard his vessel, he reacts with fury–and undeniable lust. Forced to protect her from his rough crew, the devilish Lord Jack demands a scandalous price in exchange for Eden’s safe passage across the sea. As his wicked kiss ignites an unforgettable blaze of passion between them, Jack and Eden confront a soul-searing love that cannot be denied.

And so, I come to the end of the seven book Knight Miscellany series, and it has been a fun ride! The writing has been consistently good (I have rated them all at between 4 and 4.5 out of 5), the story lines different in each one, and yet, still felt connected. There is only one book in the series that I can't clearly remember, despite the fact that I read the first in the series about 18 months ago. In terms of His Wicked Kiss being the final book in the series, it was great to see all the previous characters featured, but the author got the balance just right, while also managing to introduce the basic background for the next trilogy that features relatives of the family in this series. There have been other series where there were too many special guest appearances in the final book and the storyline gets a bit lost, but this didn't happen in this book.

This books starts out in the jungles of South America - a very unusual setting for a Regency romance that's for sure, and dealing with historical events that I never knew about that were taking place elsewhere in the world at the same time as my own country was only just being founded!

Eden Farraday is desperate to leave the jungles behind her. She has been working there with her father, a renowned doctor who has been exploring looking for new medicines. Eden really wants the chance to try to see how she survives in a very different environment - the ton in London!

When Jack Knight meets her in the jungle as he is finishing up some dodgy political dealing and other lucrative trading, Eden sees her chance to escape to England, and she is not about to let Jack's refusal to allow her to accompany him stop her, so she stows away on his ship. Trapped in close quarters with each other, Eden and Jack come to find what they were both looking for, but in a completely different place than they were expecting.

There were times, particularly later in the book when I just wanted to slap the two of them and say talk to each other, but for the most part this was just an engrossing and fun story, with a hero who is part pirate, part gentleman, very dangerous and totally charming. Eden actually held her own in this book pretty well as well. She is able to survive in the jungle, and in the ton - in fact the only place she seems to struggle is really in learning to deal with her husband!

I did have one problem with this book, and it was one that jarred me out of the book every time I saw it mentioned. A lot of historical romance novels rely on a suspense subplot, which generally involves some kind of crazy father/cousin/jilted lover etc who endangers the heroine and then the climactic ending is the reunion and declaration of love between our hero and heroine, and this book is no different.


In this case the bad guy who was obsessed with the heroine was her father's research assistant, Connor, who was identified throughout the book as being Australian. Now, I am not about to say that there can't be any psycho Aussies, because we have our fair share, but the problem I had related to the identification of Connor as an Australian.

This book was set in 1818. The first colony had been set up in New South Wales in 1788, only 30 years previously. I don't recall Connor's age being mentioned, but I assumed that he was in his mid twenties to early thirties. That would have meant that Connor would have had to have been one of the earliest babies born in the new colony, or he had travelled there either as a settler as a young kid, or perhaps even transported although there was no mention of a previous conviction.

The thing that threw me a little, was that I can't imagine that after only 30 years of settlement that anyone would have been referring to themselves as an Australian. With the only colonies that had been established being either in New South Wales or Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania), would there have been much of a feeling of national identity yet? The other thing that was mentioned was about the time that Connor had spent in Australian rain forests, but I am not sure that they would have had those areas explored at the time that this book was set. Maybe some in Tasmania, but they would certainly be completely different if you were to do a comparison between those and the jungles in South America.

It could well be that Gaelen Foley was right in terms of this characterisation and time frames, but it just FELT wrong. Every single time that Connor's nationality was mentioned it was jarring and it took me a couple of minutes to get back into the book.

I am not a reader that is worried too much about my historical romances being 100% historically accurate, and this is something that probably wouldn't have bothered most people at all, but it definitely was a distraction to me!

I have requested the first book in the Spice trilogy which is not part of this series, but features some relatives of the Knight family. If the books in that trilogy are as good as this series has been, then I will be one happy reader.

Rated: 4.5/5

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