Review of KISSES TO GO by Irene Peterson (see her website)
Zebra Contemporary Romance, March 2007
When she spots her boyfriend with someone else's pretty heels dangling around his shoulders, chef Abby Porter decides she'll do her English vacation by herself. She's broke, and certain she'll never be able to get her stuff away from the awful Lance, but she's always wanted to go to England, stay in castles, and see Stonehenge.
Her day continues its downhill course the airline refuses to refund Lance's ticket, and when her neighbor in First Class glowers at her the whole trip. But a chauffeur meets her at the airport, the manor home where she'll be staying is beautiful--and home to an Earl of all things, and a gypsy fortune teller forecasts that she'll fall in love with a prince. Surely her luck is turning. Unfortunately, she soon learns, her luck is only turning for the worse. Because the Earl turns out to be the unfriendly hunk from First Class--and he wants her gone. Still, when his elderly cook breaks her hip, sexy Earl Ian Wincott decides maybe Abby has some use--he's expecting an important guest and desperately needs a cook--and a fiancee.
Abby drives a hard bargain for the acting job, but pretending to be in love with Ian isn't as hard as she'd expected. He turns out to have a human side after all--starting with the housing project he's engaged in, but extending to the way he treats her when he isn't keeping his stiff upper lip. And there is more than a hint of magic in the air--real magic.
Author Irene Peterson (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Peterson) creates a spunky heroine in Abby Porter--a woman determined to regain control over her life and to enjoy her trip to England despite the efforts of every male whom she meets. Peterson keeps things light, with her humor poking through to create gentle smiles. Ian is the brooding, tortured hero type--abandoned by his mother as a child, forced to become the cold and indifferent male that England insists upon for her aristocracy, and responsible for the entire family (most of whom are unfriendly at best), but intent on his project no matter what the cost. The burdens of his magical duties only add to his difficulties, going a long way to explain his behavior.
I would have liked to see more magic in this story--Peterson teased with it, without really letting it play a full role, and I definitely have hopes for Ian's charming younger sister in some future story, but KISSES TO GO was all about Abby--and Abby shines through. Peterson's engaging writing kept me reading and made this a hard book to put down.
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