Title: A Kiss to Remember
Author: Teresa Medeiros
Published: May 2002
Series: Fairy Tales, Book 3 and/or Fairleighs, Book 1
Sterling Harlowe had to draw up an ottoman and stand on tiptoe to peek out the drawing room window.
Why I Chose this Book:
You know, I can't remember. I put a reserve on it at the library, and I don't really remember why now. I read Teresa Medeiros' posts over at Squawk Radio and I suspect it was after reading one of those that I decided to try out one of her books. I've read one before, After Midnight, and enjoyed it, but decided on a plain historical romance instead of more vampires in the sequel to AM.
Laura Fairleigh is playing with fire. With only three weeks in which to marry in order to gain the title to Arden Manor, the house she and her younger siblings are living in, the penniless beauty has no time for romantic dreams. She must seize any opportunity for matrimony -- before she loses her chance to keep her benefactor's prodigal son, the notorious Duke of Devonbrooke, from taking possession of her home. When fate presents her with an amnesic Adonis in the woods nearby, Laura is determined to convince the injured stranger that he is, in fact, her loving fiancé and hurry him to the altar. She's chilled to discover that the nameless man is in fact the dreaded duke, who will not be pleased to learn that he's been played for a fool -- even by a beautiful captor who has fallen in love with him in the process. Laura has only one chance to secure her future happiness. Somehow, before their rapidly approaching wedding night, she must win the heart of this rake who has a reputation to rival the Devil himself.
I have a love/hate relationship with anmesia and mistaken identity stories. On one level, the whole "being someone else" thing appeals to me, but the deception required doesn't. So I liked this story, but couldn't quite love it - even though it was (I a little embarrassed to admit) the amnesia that made me choose this particular book.
If well done - and I'm still a little on the fence about that in this case - the characters should have good reasons for beginning and/or carrying on the deception. That doesn't mean there won't be trouble when the truth comes out, but with time there can be understanding as well.
Laura's course of action is a little extreme, but plausible within the context of the story. The delevloping romance between her and "Nicholas" is nice and the revelation of his true identity well done.
Sterling's fury at being deceived is entirely reasonable and seeing them eventually working it all out was nice to read.
I think part of the problem is that Medeiros had to fit two romances in a single, relatively short novel. Both of them are between the hero and heroine, but they are quite different as they first fall in love as Laura and Nicholas, and then have to reconnect and do it all again as Laura and Sterling (and then Diana and Thane steal a bit of the story time as well).
Some of the thematic resolution was beautiful. Laura tells Sterling that Nicholas was the man he might have been if his life had been different, which was a lovely way to look at the two incarnations of the man, as I don't believe you can fail to be true to your fundamental self, even if you don't remember who that is. With his emotional baggage taken away, Sterling had a time to find that fundamental self.
His apology to Laura for making her his wife and treating her like his mistress was a lovely realisation for him to have - and something a few more romance heroes could do with figuring out.
All in all, an enjoyable read. I'll certainly be happy to read Medeiros again.