This time out, I have Mary Blayneyís Stranger's
Kiss(Bantam). Lynford Pennistan, Duke of Meryon, meets Elena Verano one night at his first ball since his wifeís death, and the attraction between them is instant. Elena, too, is grieving her late, beloved husband. This is the first time sheís been in England since she was a young girl, and sheís a singer of some renown, but that isnít her only reason for returning: she has a ward who needs some polishing before being dropped into
the marriage mart. Meryon still grieves for his wife, but his grief is mixed with a lot of guilt. He cared deeply for his late wife, but he never told her exactly how he felt, and of course, now itís too late. But it isnít too late for him to wreak revenge on the man who has done much wrong in Meryonís life and the lives of those around him, the Duke of Bendas. Meryon had no intention
of continuing a relationship with Elena after their first meeting, but he canít seem to help himself. Nor can she, and when she seeks him out, the results are not unexpected. But Elena isnít looking to become a rich manís mistress or for another husband. No man will have control of her life ever again, and no matter her feelings for Meryon, she knows men of his station are quite used to calling all the shots, not just in their own lives, but for everyone around them as well. Then, as they grow closer and Meryon reveals all his secrets to her, she realizes her own secret past will certainly create a rift between them that will be unbreachable. Meryon works out her secret on his own, but it doesnít extinguish the feelings he has for her. He just canít quite see how to make things right between them, and Elena wonít give him the chance to try. These are charming characters, though with the reader knowing Elenaís secret nearly from the beginning of the tale, it doesnít create much tension about the big reveal. I liked the story well enough; itís a good way to spend a rainy autumn afternoon, but I didnít find it to be a keeper. I will say, however, I liked it far better than Ms. Blayneyís last book. Iím borrowing three of Cupidís five arrows for this one.
Until next time, happy reading!