The First Kiss
Kiss Me Hello
Author: Grace Burrowes
Rating: B and B+
What I’m Talking About:
The First Kiss and Kiss Me Hello are the second and third books in the Sweetest Kisses series. The First Kiss tells the story of two damaged people, concert pianist Vera Waltham and contract attorney James Knightly. James is the youngest of three brothers who partner together in a family law firm. He has been damaged by too much life experience. Vera has been damaged by a lack of it. From an early age, her career came first and the people around her worked tirelessly to keep her sheltered so she could concentrate on her music. Together Vera and James attempt to heal each other. Unfortunately, most of the effort came from James. Once he acknowledged his feelings for Vera, the man wore his heart on his sleeve. James ruffled Vera’s feathers as she felt true love for the first time, but wasn’t sure what to do about it. She was fearful and cautious. This brought out an unattractive side of her personality. I didn’t like her and found her unjustifiably petty and stand-offish. Thankfully, James was there, being his perfect, vulnerable self.
It took me a few chapters, but I did come to like Vera and, eventually, her actions came to have meaning in hindsight. Burrowes does bring us around to a satisfying conclusion. The First Kiss then sets us up for Kiss Me Hello.
Kiss Me Hello is the third full-length book in the Sweetest Kisses series, taking on the love story of MacKenzie Knightly, oldest of the three Knightly brothers and Sidone Lindstrom. While each book can stand on its own, common characters in the three books and two novellas come and go throughout the series. There is an overlap between books two and three that confused me until a specific event that occurred in The First Kiss solidified the timeline for me in Kiss Me Hello.
I liked Kiss Me Hello better than The First Kiss. Burrowes uses her personal experience as a family law attorney to bring believability to the Knightly brothers’ law firm of Hartman and Whitney. She really shines in this plot, however, driven not so much by MacKenzie and Sid’s romance, but rather by Sid’s desire to adopt her teenage foster son, Luis. The climactic courtroom scene was a pager-turner.
Both books have explicit intimate scenes that are both sweet and steamy. They register as hot without feeling cheaply pornographic. They are appropriately placed without overwhelming the story arc or feeling gratuitous.
Grace Burrowes is a new author for me and she has me puzzled. I found her writing to be good, potentially really good, but it felt to me like her talent was underutilized from the two books I read in this series. She was especially insightful in some of the dialog between Mac and Sid about loss and grieving.
“Blaming ourselves is a way to stay connected to someone who’s gone. I know that now. It’s a way to get into that nice, cozy coffin with the deceased and shut out the world.”
Despite flashes of brilliance, I felt Burrowes started out behind the eight ball with the premise of the series, “Damson Valley is a pretty, quiet rural town within commuting distance of Baltimore and Washington, DC. Single moms come here for a fresh start…. The locals have nicknamed the place ‘Damsel Valley’.” Really? There’s a single mom’s central on the east coast where everyone is broken and needs saving? It has a built-in predictability which is convenient for the author, but asks a lot of the reader to suspend their disbelief of convenient set-ups. Burrowes webstie shows her to be quite prolific, turning out several books this spring/summer. I could easily see Burrowes writing longer, meatier books in another genre with romance elements rather than romance books with scattered dramatic elements. Because she’s good, she elevated a series that might have been very average. I look forward seeing what she writes next.
The First Kiss – B, Liked It
Kiss Me Hello – B+ Liked It A Lot
About the Books:
The First Kiss
Classical pianist Vera Waltham is recovering from a bad break up by taking a hiatus with her daughter in the Damson Valley countryside. She’s content with her music, and has no interest in complicating her life with further attempts at romance.
Attorney James Knightley is a numbers guy who reads contractual fine print for lunch, and wants nothing to do with damsels, in distress or otherwise. Nobody is more surprised than James when he falls for Vera Waltham, and the only contract on James’s mind when it comes to Vera is holy matrimony.
Kiss Me Hello
MacKenzie Knightley is the best criminal trial attorney in Damson County, but he has no defense against petite, peppery Sidonie Lindstrom, a foster mom who’s moved into the farmhouse where Mack and his brothers grew up.
Sid is grieving the loss of her brother, worried she’s about to lose her foster son, and in no mood for romantic nonsense when Mack drives up the lane. And yet, he’s good with her horses, good with her foster son, and just the sort of solid, trustworthy, guy she might fall for—until she learns that he’s not at all what he appears to be.
Release Date: Book 2 – February 3, 2015
Book 3 – March 3, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Series: The Sweetest Kisses Series #2 and #3
ISBN: #978-1402278877; #978-1402278846
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format(s): paperback, e-book
Book Source: Publisher