Melody Thomas’s "This Perfect Kiss"

Grade: C
passion rating: warm

As a reviewer, I aim to be fair. But true fairness implies a lack of context for each book and I doubt I am quite that impartial. I tend to read debuts with greater charity; I suspect I am harder on authors I’ve read and loved. Melody Thomas falls into the latter category. Her Donally family series is a favorite; its Match Made in Scandal, a DIK for me. When I read Ms. Thomas, I expect a neat plot, clever dialogue, and persuasive lovers. This Perfect Kiss was unsatisfactory on all three fronts.

The novel, a Scottish tale based loosely on the Cinderella motif, begins with a kiss between the illegitimate, half-American Christel Douglas and Camden, the earl of Carrick. He is a decorated British hero and she has crashed a ball held in his honor. Christel has loved Camden for years. She’s come to this ball to ask him to seduce her — in a few weeks time he’s to choose a bride from his class and she sees this night as her last chance to have, even if it’s just once, the man she loves. Christel, dressed in a golden mask, a golden dress she’s made, and golden slippers she’s sold her hair to buy, follows Camden out into the garden and the two kiss. As they embrace, servants call for Camden to rejoin the ball and the two then part without Camden knowing who she is.

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