And Then He Kissed Her Mass Market Paperback – Jan 31 2007
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Emmaline Dove has been the perfect secretary for publisher Harrison Marlowe. Keeping the rakish viscount's professional and personal lives running smoothly is challenging, but Emma hopes that, some day, working for Harry will lead to getting her own book published. But so far Harry has rejected Emma's literary efforts, claiming "etiquette books don't sell." When Emma discovers Harrison didn't even bother reading her work, she snaps. Resigning her position, Emma sets out to find someone who will appreciate both her and her writing. RITA Award-winning Guhrke crafts a sparkling and deliciously fun romantic battle of wits in the first in a new Victorian series, and it is an irresistible, laughter-laced treat. John Charles
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
Laura Lee Guhrke spent seven years in advertising, had a successful catering business, and managed a construction company before she decided writing novels was more fun. A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Laura has penned more than twenty historical romances. Her books have received many award nominations, and she is the recipient of romance fiction's highest honor: the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. She lives in the Northwest with her husband (or, as she calls him, her very own romance hero), along with two diva cats and a Golden Retriever happy to be their slave.
Top Customer Reviews
The romantic conflict lingers a bit too long and gets resolved a bit too quickly at the end but it's still a good read, both characters are interesting and well fleshed out. Worth buying, not worth keeping if shelf space is at a premium.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Miss Emmaline Dove, Harry's female secretary, is usually the one who winds up being the bearer of bad news to the string of mistresses and broken hearts that Harry tends to leave in his wake. She organizes his schedule, runs a good deal of his business, as well as shops for the presents that he will eventually send his lady friends when he no longer requires their company. Though she is a lady in the truest sense of the word, and her propriety is her pride and joy, Emma continues to work for Harry in the hopes that he will eventually publish the line of etiquette books that she writes under the pseudonym of Mrs. Bartleby. When it becomes clear that he will never do so, and that he has in fact never even read her work and instead rejects it without review, Emma quits her position and throws Harry's entire world into a tailspin.
And Then He Kissed Her is one of the best romances I've read this year and had all of the elements that will keep me coming back to more of Guhrke's work. First of all, the novel flowed in an easy-to-read, quick-paced, and well plotted format which is more rare than you would imagine. Everything seemed to happen in a logical order, and even though it was more than 200 pages before Emma and Harry even had their first kiss, the entire wait was fraught with sexual tension and heightened arousal so much that I couldn't wait for them to finally touch each other. Harry and Emma were both well thought out characters who developed over the course of the novel. Emma starts off as a pious, on-the-shelf spinster who puts propriety before her own happiness and is so consumed with keeping up appearances she cannot stop to think about what she wants for her own life. Meeting Harry, and falling in love with him, allows her to let go of the defenses she's erected and to realize that she does deserve happiness, even at the expense of her own reputation. Similarly, though Harry starts off as the worst sort of cad, a man who will send a woman a bracelet when he's done with her and just say good riddance when she wants him back, he eventually becomes the sort of man who would be worthy of a woman of Emma's style and grace. The relationship between these two and the way they teach one another to grow and become better people is a perfect example of what a good romance should do, and the happiness I felt for them and genuine sorrow when the book was over is the exact way that I should feel if a romance novel has done its job.
I picked up And Then He Kissed Me because Julia Quinn recommended it on her web site and, as she's one of my favorite romance authors, I'll usually try anything she gives a stamp of approval. She was right on target in this instance, and I'll definitely add Laura Lee Guhrke to my list of go-to authors in the historical romance genre.
This wonderful romantic story is about Harry (Viscount Marlowe), who is a handsome, charming, unconventional and inconsiderate rake, has a preference for dark haired, emotional can-can dancers as mistresses, believed that the sanctity of marriage is equivalent to being in hell and believed in making his own fortune by way of owning several publishing companies. He doesn't much care for what society thought of him or in general. Infact, to prove a point, he hired a female secretary because he believed that a female can make a living in a man's position and he even paid her a salary that is equal to a man's. That secretary was none other than the prim and proper Emmaline (Emma) Dove. Emma, a girl- bachelor and a spinster, surpassed all his expectations. She was the most efficient, reliable and obedient employee he's ever hired. She had his company running like clockwork. She kept track of all occasions and appointments, purchased gifts for his female relatives and even his mistresses which also included parting gifts once he tire of them!
Harry made Emma off limits to him because she was so good at her position as his secretary and truth be told, he found her to be as dry as sand, with no sense of humor, passionless, too even tempered and well, kinda' plain. Emma on the otherhand, found him to be insincere, inconsiderate, an awful scoundrel and just the kind of man that a lady should NOT fall for. Especially when she had to be the one who ended up having to dump Harry's paramours on his behalf. She worked for him for five years only in hopes that one day, he will publish her writings on etiquette. The thing is, he never did. And on her 30th birthday, she discovered that he had never intended to do so. That was her breaking point and decided for once in her life, to abandon her sensibility, and an employer who took her for granted and...quit! Harry refused to accept her resignation because the workplace was just chaotic without her. He had to get her back. Shockingly, his attempts made him the receiving end of a very fiery temper...hers! And well, after five years of having Emma as an employee, he never really knew her at all. And getting to know the real Emma was an intriguing endeavor indeed. One he was oh, so willing to make...
I love, love, love Harry and Emma's story! The main characters were so well written and their backgrounds, described so poignantly, that one can understand why Harry and Emma had such strong beliefs. It's easy to feel for them both. I laughed and I cried and I relished each and every word. I appreciated the fact that the book was about the hero and the heroine and there were no ridiculous subplots to take the focus away from them. It is a true love story devoid of exaggerated misunderstandings that would frustrate a reader like myself. I am not a big fan of prolouges and epilouges, however, I was actually wishing that Ms.Laura Lee Guhrke included both just so I could read more. This book was an absolute pleasure. Infact, I've read and re-read the last chapter 3 times already. And sighed every time...
But then it all went down hill. Harry, while likable, never really became a full-fledged character despite his backstory because the author never bothered to explore his motivations and tell us what he's really thinking other than the fact that he lusts after the heroine. And the about face both he and Emma did - she being willing to set aside her ingrained sense of propriety and he being willing to reverse his stance on marriage - was too abrupt for it to be believable. It is as if the author suddenly discovered that she's already more than 300 pages in and needs to close things off, and so did it by tacking on a cliched and convenient ending. Instead of showing us how they fell in love, the author ended up telling us through 1 or 2 chapters in which Harry and Emma did mundane stuff such as going fishing and meeting for illicit trysts. And then suddenly he's proclaiming his love for her out of the blue. This lessened the book's emotional payoff and made it a somewhat dissatisfying read.
Harry is a bit more typical in terms of the baggage he totes around: he's never going to marry again because he had a disastrous first marriage that ended in scandal, disgrace, and divorce. He hates rules, is dismissive of society's opinion, censorious or otherwise, is glib and easy going, charming and fun loving. I found him much less interesting than Emma, his character arc practically nonexistent compared to hers. But still they have great chemistry together. There's a lot about writing, publishing and editing in this book, which is woven into the development of Emma and Harry's evolving relationship. Emma is an aspiring writer, and part of her awakening entails her determination to get her work published. She succeeds, but with a rival publisher rather than Harry, who's repeatedly rejected her work. I liked the negotiations and conflicts in which Harry and Emma engage as he tries to get her back and she demands her due, as they both give and take and work together on a refreshingly equal footing.
Outside the realm of the professional, however, they aren't so equal, and I wasn't too pleased with the treatment of Emma's sexual awakening. Nor did I like how, once business and pleasure have been thoroughly mixed, she claims to have secretly (so secretly even she had no idea) loved Harry all the years that she worked for him as his doormat and up close observer of his dissolute ways, his cavalier treatment of so many women. Too many contradictions and too much insincerity really doused my enjoyment of the book, Emma's character, and her romance with Harry. Things start to bog down once they start their affair, and I got kind of bored. All that baggage, Emma's and Harry's, was dealt with too swiftly for me to feel any real resolution. Their growing love was developed in terms that can only be described as blurry. The book became mundane, the outcome obvious, the ending trite. For a while there, And Then He Kissed Her had me hooked, but I've got to knock off a star for the stumbling finish. If I were less biased in favor of Guhrke's writing style, I would have knocked off more.