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book cover Limecello’s review of If His Kiss is Wicked by Jo Goodman
Historical romance published by Zebra on 1 Sep 2007

I know I sound like a broken record, but this is one of the best books I’ve read in a while. It’s strange because I feel like I haven’t been reading many good books, but at the same time, all the reviews I post are gushing. (Clearly the other books are so bad I’ve blocked the memory.) This book, however, deserves all the effusive emotion I can muster. Some how this is the first Jo Goodman book I’ve ever read (and what a back list, right?) – and I loved it. In fact, I’ve already started reading another of her books.

Emma Hathaway is how every reader wishes every heroine would be. Emma’s smart. Next, she’s loyal, pragmatic, realistic, yet softhearted, gifted, kind, and most importantly, personable. You want a friend just like this. In fact, you wish every friend were like Emma. She knows she’s not perfect, is devoted and allow people to take advantage of her, because ultimately there’s no real harm, and she just can’t say no. At the same time, when an issue is important, i.e. morals or lives are on the line, Emma is willing to step up and defy the wishes of those she loves for the greater good of everyone. You may think Emma appears as paragon of everything, but she’s just too human and likable.

Restell Gardner was a very fun hero. He’s affable, and seems to be rather frivolous, but that’s only because he doesn’t much care what others think of him. Restell has unknown depths, and seems to act based on his own personal code, and for his own amusement. He’s capable of amazing things, and in fact carries them out, but at the same time can be quite vulnerable. At times, Restell is so honest and open with subjects that those he is conversing with assume he’s lying. A neat trick. Really, there’s nothing about Restell to dislike. Or Emma, for that matter.

The interaction and interplay between Emma and Restell is ingenious. In fact, the secondary characters and their involvement is quite clever as well. At times, the plot and dialogue would jump, leaving the reader wondering what had just happened, but in a good way. I was continuously engaged in the book, and not only that, I was thinking (not something required by every novel). What’s nice about this is Ms. Goodman never leaves the reader in the dark – she’ll explain the leap the characters made, or what had just happened. It’s easy to follow because you’ve been considering what was implied in the prior paragraphs.

The extremely well written plot with unexpected twists and turns has a gratifying attention to detail. Each character was dynamic in a way that should please every English teacher. Minor details tie into the remainder of the book, and have more weight and impact than expected. If His Kiss is Wicked is creative and fun. The ability to laugh at themselves make for charming characters, and a story that didn’t take itself too seriously, even while dealing with heavy matters.

I will say that I had expected just a tad more romance – at the least I definitely would have enjoyed more. Additionally, the title is cute, but doesn’t resonate with the story for me. There were a few rather inconsequential remarks I wish had been explained, but weren’t crucial to the story. Those pretty much are the only critical remarks I can make. Maybe it was just my mood, but this book simply hit the spot. I enjoyed it, and plan on re-reading If His Kiss is Wicked, once I get my hands on a copy of my own. I can definitely recommend this book to readers who enjoy a historical romance, along with a clever, involving story that doesn’t get too weighty or dark.

LimecelloGrade: A

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USA Today bestselling author Jo Goodman delivers the unforgettable story of a beautiful young woman who believes someone wants to kill her. Only one man can reveal if she’s truly in peril or if she’s going mad. But will his forbidden kiss lead to a dangerous seduction?

Shy by nature, Emma Hathaway usually leaves the drama to her rebellious cousin, Marisol. But when Emma agrees to meet with her cousin’s secret lover to end the affair, she is pulled into a dangerous game. Now Emma is convinced her involvement in the scandal has put her life in jeopardy. The trouble is none of Emma’s confidantes believe anyone is trying to harm her. As whispers of madness begin, Emma turns to the only person who might be able to help…

The very handsome, barely respectable Restell Gardner has gained a reputation for helping people out of compromising positions. Never one to turn away a lady in need, Restell agrees to help solve the intrigue. Sensing there is more to the green-eyed beauty than meets the eye, Restell feels himself falling for Emma. But he resists succumbing to his passion… at least until he learns the truth about the danger that is haunting her. For if he gives in to temptation to soon, he could lose Emma forever…