Jo Goodman

If his Kiss is Wicked – Jo Goodman – review

[asa book]0821777777[/asa] First, let me remind you that authors often cannot have the title they want, because the marketing people don’t like it. My guess is that Goodman didn’t start with this title, which some will find offputting. I have read other novels she’s written, and I knew better than to judge her by title (or cover).

I have a weakness for Regency romances and a keen interest in how the time and place are portrayed. I also value writers who work to avoid the tried-and-true. Goodman knows her historical detail, and she’s not content to make due do with the standard conflicts. In many romances the range of conflict is very narrow. He’s tortured by his personal history and can’t commit; she’s secretive about her past and needs to be wooed free of her fears. The crisis very often has to do with miscommunication of an overly simplistic variety.

Goodman’s main characters aren’t having any of that. They are two interesting, sensible people who come together after she is abducted and beaten (but not raped, which would have turned this into an entirely different story). Her fears are real ones, and he takes them seriously. There is nothing coy about the way they fall in love or decide to marry. The problems all stem from the original premise — Emma was abducted and beaten, but persons unknown, for reasons unknown, and she is suffering — and will continue to suffer — post traumatic stress until they can figure out what actually happened. When this impacts on their life together, he doesn’t throw a hissy fit and retreat. He doubles down on his intent to figure out what happened.

There are lots of suspects, some of which appear to be stock-character bad-guys, but then this evolves into something else, too.

I have given you almost nothing about the greater context of the story, and that’s on purpose. The bottom line: this is an intriguing story wound around a very satisfying romance, rather than a romance wrapped in a thin layer of mystery. A grown-up romance. A really good story, well plotted and written. Highly recommended.