My dad is turning 60 y.o. this Friday!! Wooohooo... Only problem - need to go buy a gift!! Any suggestion? It's usually so hard, but this year, it's even harder now that he stays home ^_^; Then, my aunt and cousin are organizing my uncle 50th birthday surprise party - another milestone, another gift!! I keep telling myself I have time, I have time... well now, I'm running out of time!! I know, I'm a bad girl, sigh.
Then, I have a couple of buddy reviews waiting to be put together for Breezing Through! Ugh, I love discussing books, but when it comes to put the reviews together ^_^; So sorry Ames, Jill and Cindy!! I will get to them!! Eventually... at least one this week! Hopefully ^_^;
So let's get TBR Day out of the way first :D Let's get un-lazy!!
After The Kiss by Suzanne Enoch
published by Avon in July 2008
A Notorious Gentleman...
Sullivan Waring wants only two things: his rightful inheritance, and revenge against the man who stole it from him. By day, Sullivan is the most respected horse breeder in England; by night, he plunders the ton's most opulent homes to reclaim his late mother's beautiful paintings. His quest is going swimmingly... until the night he's discovered by Lady Isabel Chalsey. Clad only in a revealing nightdress, she's an entrancingly different kind of plunder, and how can a thief resist stealing a kiss?
A Curious Lady...
Surprised by a masked man in her own home, Isabel should be quaking with fear. Instead the sight of the sinfully handsome Sullivan makes her tremble with excitement. Who is this man, and why is he so set on this reckless pursuit? Lady Isabel loves a challenge, and she'll dare anything to uncover Sullivan's secret-but she may instead convince him that she is the greatest prize of all.
Genre: Historical romance
Series: The Notorious Gentlemen, Book #1
The Story: Sullivan James Waring was fighting against the French in Spain when he got wound in the shoulder. When it happened a second time, his good friend, Lord Bramwell Johns, decided it was time to go home. However, a very bad surprise awaited Sullivan at home: all the paintings from his mother - his rightful inheritance - has been taken away... by none other than Sullivan's father, Lord Dunston - the man who won't acknowledge Sullivan as his son.
Determined to get back his legacy, Sullivan has been robbing the homes to whom Lord Dunston has given the paintings. Dubbed as the Mayfair Marauder, Sullivan takes great pleasure at secretly shaming his father... that is, until he gets caught by Lady Isabel Chalsey. To escape with as little fuss as possible, Sullivan distracts her with a kiss... but she is not the only one distracted and as a result, Sully loses his mask, exposing his face. It wouldn't be too bad if he never saw her again... but of course, Sullivan and Lady Isabel cross path when she accompanies her brother to buy a hourse from Sullivan... She then blackmails him into working for her...
All Isabel wants is to keep an eye on the Mayfair Marauder till she decides what to do. Hand him over to Bow Street? The only problem is that Isabel is curious and wants to solve the mystery... Clearly, Sullivan Waring has a great reputation as being the best horse breeder, he doesn't lack funds... So why is her burglarizing Mayfair homes? Then, there is the kiss...
... and things only get more complicated when she realizes that the man courting her this Season is none other than Sullivan's half-brother - the rightful heir.
My Opinion: Two reasons why I picked up this book... well actually, three. The first is that Rowena enjoyed it and I didn't know what to read... So when I found it at the UBS, I picked it up. Then, for the Re-Read Challenge, Lori reviewed Ms Enoch's England's Perfect Hero and it sounds really good. Now, I've read Ms Enoch before and thought her books were okay to good. So I wanted to read After The Kiss before ordering England's Perfect Hero...
What really caught my attention was the opening scene where we see Sullivan along with his two friends, Phinneas and Bramwell (heroes of book #2 and #3 in the serise) fight the French. That scene was great! It was exciting and everything I expected from a battle. It showed the great friendship between the three men and I simply loved it. Too bad there wasn't more of it ^_^;
I thought that Sullivan Waring was a great hero. I'm actually surprised that there wasn't much emphasis on his career as a soldier.... but I guess when you're the finest horse breeder in London... people tend to forget about his career as a soldier. Anyway, I really like Sullivan. He was quite an ambiguous character. First, people don't know how to treat him because he's in limbo. He's not a commoner, because his father is after all a marquis... but at the same time, he's not nobility, because he hasn't been acknowledged. I don't think that is a fun position to hold, but he deals with it. At the same time, he's the best horse breeder and men would kill for the opportuniy of buying a mount from him... but then, he has a choice... He can decide not to do business with you. He's smart, determined, courageous and loyal... he can hold a grudge and he's also very stubborn. A very interesting man in my opinion ;)
Unfortunately, I didn't like the heroine as much. In my opinion, Lady Isabel is spoiled... Many times, I disliked the way she spoke to Sullivan, especially in the beginning where she keeps reminding him their positions, as in she's nobility and he's nothing, the fact that he works for her and she's the one who gives the order. I know it's a fact, but to keep harping the point was unpleasant... it just rubbed me the wrong way. I thought she could have been nicer... Of course, she's young and she's led a pretty sheltered life... However, she does redeem herself at the end. I liked the fact that she realized she didn't know much about real life... When she discovers that Sullivan is Lord Dunston's by-blow. That the life she knows, the things she knows from others are mostly a facade and superficial. I also admire her at the end, because of her loyalty. Helping Sullivan by sending for his best friend, hiding evidences... and willing to follow him wherever, not caring about circumstances and other people's view. It's a little bit naive, but at the same time... She's very passionnate and loyal and those are good quality. I also enjoyed her interactions with her family very much. Actually, her family was very well developed... I liked seeing the different relationships, the camaraderie and sibling affection between Isabel and her two brothers. How her father likes to indulge her... How her parents worried about the growing affection between Isabel and Sullivan. They were a real loving and caring family... It was well-done, not the stereotypicial families that most see in historicals (either too loving or too uncaring). I especially liked the scene where they realized that some bad gossips about Isabel were being spread during a soiree. My only question is, how come her older brother is the earl and not her father? Can the father pass down the title before his death?
The plot was quite interesting as well. Loved the scenes between Bramwell and Sullivan and I'm most definitively curious about Bramwell's character. I thought the first half of the book was stronger, especially with Sullivan and Isabel's banter. I kind of lost interest in the couple though once they became lovers. However, the Mayfair Marauder's storyline got really interesting at the end, so it saved the second half. I liked how that storyline ended, it was clever and interesting. I would rather Lord Dunston didn't acknowledge Sullivan at the end though, because seriously, I didn't believe it at all. After all that happened? He decides that he's proud of Sullivan? yeah, I think not. I felt like Ms Enoch wanted to wrap things a bit too nicely.
My Grade: B. Overall, I enjoyed After the Kiss. It was a good read with a solid storyline. If the heroine would have been more likable, the grade would have been higher... As it is, I'm definitively going to try to get my hand on England's Perfect Hero...