With This Kiss, Part One
By Eloisa James
Publisher: Avon Impulse
March 12, 2013
Lady Grace Ryburn, eldest daughter of James and Theo, the Duke and Duchess of Ashbrook (The Ugly Duchess) knew by the time she was ten that Colin Barry, eldest (adopted) son of Griffin and Phoebe, Lord and Lady Barry (“Seduced by a Pirate”) was the most handsome, kindest, most charming boy in all England. By the time she was fourteen, she realized that Colin, six years older than she, made her heart beat in a way that no one else did. By the time she was eighteen, she knew that she was in love with Lieutenant Colin Barry of the Royal Navy. When she was nineteen, she watched Captain Colin Barry fall in love at first sight with her beautiful, sparkling, younger sister, Lily.
At twenty-five, Colin has seen so much death in battle that even his dreams are blood-filled. The beautiful, laughing Lily reminds him of a world of candlelight and champagne; she knows nothing of the death and decay that has surrounded him during his years at war. The perceptive Grace knows too much; she knows he hates war, that he hates the letters he must write to the mothers of all the sons who have perished while Colin has emerged unscathed. It is not until Colin is back at sea that he realizes which sister he truly loves. If only he can return alive and whole, if only Grace does not fall for the Scottish lord who is courting her, if only . . .
From the first sentence, I was captivated by the characters and the world Eloisa James creates in this first installment of her serial romance, With This Kiss. I love Grace! She is intelligent, intuitive, and kind-hearted. Even when she watches Lily effortlessly capture what Grace herself most wants, she understands that she loves her sister, who is a genuinely nice person. From a very young age, Grace possesses a high degree of self-awareness and self-acceptance. She knows that she likes her place out of the spotlight, observing, analyzing, and using all she discovers in her painting.
Of course, there were moments when I wanted to shake Colin, but even when he doesn’t fully appreciate Grace, I had to love him. He is handsome and honorable and sensitive. And when he does realize his feelings for Grace, he understands what a rare creature she is with her big heart, her talent, and her clear-eyed view of what matters. I always choose a favorite sentence from each Eloisa James story. My favorite from With This Kiss, Part One occurs when Colin realizes how special Grace is: “She [Lily] was a waltz, and Grace was a hymn.”
I love friends-to-lovers stories, I love series, and I love these characters. Not only was I fully engaged with Grace and Colin, but I also thoroughly enjoyed the glimpses of James and Theo and Griffin and Phoebe and a look at their ongoing HEAs. I finished part one painfully eager for part two. My recommendation: order this so that you can begin reading immediately. I predict you too will lose your heart to these characters.
Part II will be released on March 19 and Part III on March 26. My reviews will be posted on the Thursday following the release dates.
Serials that harken back to an earlier day when readers eagerly awaited new issues of popular magazines in order to read the latest installment in novels by canonical writers such as Charles Dickens and Edith Wharton and popular romance writers such as Faith Baldwin and Kathleen Norris seem to be trending in 2013. What do you think of serials? Have you read any?