Other Mary Blayney reviews can be found in the Archives.

 
One More Kiss
by Mary Blayney
(Bantam, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978055359143)
***
I liked One More Kiss. The hero and heroine were both likeable and well-crafted. However, the blurb on the back cover was a little misleading, as the scandal referred to on the cover (that provides the conflict) happens in the last quarter of the story.

Our hero, Lord Jess Pennistan, hides a heart of gold under a carefully crafted reputation as a gambler with valuables and ladies' hearts. As our story opens, he has just lost a piece of property with considerable sentimental value to his evil archnemesis.

Beatrice Brent meets Jess at a country party thrown to introduce her and her twin sister to Society before their Season. She finds him dangerously charming and fun, despite being repeatedly warned away by various people. Beatrice feels studious and plain next to her nonidentical twin. Jess is attracted to Beatrice, despite his best efforts. They share an overly familiar wave at the beginning of One More Kiss. Beatrice and her sister are nervously watching the new arrivals to the party from their window, and impulsively, Beatrice waves to the handsome Jess. He waves back, and she is appalled that he might think her the sort of girl who waves at every handsome man. Once they met, the sparks really fly.

Beatrice knows Jessís evil archnemesis, and he is all too happy to provide her a chance to flirt with no strings attached, especially if it gets under his archnemesisís skin. Both soon discover that they are genuinely attracted to each other, but as a gambler, he is not a good match for a girl of Beatriceís social standing. And she fears that she is too much a bluestocking to be attractive to a ladiesí man like Jess. The series of parties is an ingenious way to flesh out both the main characters and the secondary ones. A romance develops for Beatrice's pretty sister as well, and there are hints for others. The evil archnemesis is somewhat predictably dealt with, and still manages to inconvenience our couple in death, as Jess is suspected of his murder and the only way to prove his innocence destroys Beatriceís reputation.

A few things kept this from being a four star book for me. The twins share a sort of telepathy that lets them communicate wordlessly. It struck an odd note for me, as did one partygoer's account of seeing what sounded like a UFO. All the socializing dragged after awhile, because I kept expecting the Big Event, which doesnít happen until much later in the story.

That aside, if you like tales of manners, the newly wealthy, and the interactions of the ton, this is a fun diversion.

--Jessica Smith


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