It Only Takes a Kiss

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 26 Oct 2018

Member Reviews

“It Only Takes a Kiss” is the second in Wilma Counts’ “Once Upon a Bride” trilogy, giving three familiar stories the Regency Romance treatment. "Kiss" is inspired by Sleeping Beauty, but in this tale both the hero and heroine have been asleep.
Hero Whitby is her physician father’s assistant in every way allowed in her time and place. Now in her mid-twenties, she is intelligent and compassionate, but mistrustful of the men of her class. Hero has buried the reason for her mistrust—a brutal assault--and remains “on the shelf.”
When a badly beaten, unconscious, and handsome stranger is brought to her father’s Devonshire clinic in the dead of night, Hero and her father patch him and wait days for him to regain consciousness. Hero finds herself drawn to him, and inspired by the fairy tale, kisses the sleeping patient.
When Alexander Stern finally awakens, he has no memory of his identity, although his nightmares are of bloody battles in Wellington’s army on the Peninsula.
Having read several of Ms. Counts' books, I love how she sets each story in the historical and social context of the period. She brings readers into the time with pertinent details of clothing, food, women’s issues, customs, politics, and the workings of local estates. Estates were not merely grand houses, occupied by an oblivious upper class. They were economic centers that needed to be wisely managed and maintained. Farms, mills, breweries, mines, and all other industry worked together for the community’s well-being. The local aristocracy could make or break the system.
In "Kiss," the town of Weyburn has for years been terrorized by Willard Teague, the estate’s evil steward. Teague exerts considerable power in the absence of the Weyburn heir who has been off soldiering on the Peninsula or whoring in London. Teague and his band of bully boys use the vacant estate, its mine, and farms in an increasingly violent smuggling operation. Teague employs fear and coercion to enlist the reluctant cooperation of the townspeople. And he’s got his eye on Hero as his next wife. (shudder)
Teague’s advances repulse Hero. After all, she treated his first wife for the abuse he dispensed. She also sees patients at a local home for unwed mothers, the unhappy result of men exerting their power. Both the daughters of upper class families and servants who had been seduced or raped end up here. Their babies were  often placed with foster families. In fact, Hero has taken in one such child, raising little Annabelle as a member of her family.
As the story unfolds, most of what Hero holds dear in life is threatened--Annabelle’s place in her home, her position as her father’s assistant, the lives of her siblings, and her romance with the handsome stranger. 
When all seems lost, Ms. Counts compels readers to a satisfying finish, complete with a little swashbuckling and, of course, a happily ever after for the lovers.
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I received a free copy from Netgalley  exchange for an honest review. This book was okay I felt like it dragged in places and went on a little long but I did like the main characters Hero and Alex. Alex is returning home after being at War and is finally visiting the estate that has been left alone for 8 years since his uncle passed. Alex is met with an accident and that's where Hero meets him acting as his doctor.
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Wilma Counts is a reliable author for me, someone I count on to bring to life a different time and period with an engaging love story and interesting people. In It Only Takes a Kiss she manages to make realistic a young lady's interest in medicine and make fresh again the story of a not-so-aristocratic woman's love for an aristocratic wastrel. Hero is just a wonderful heroine, someone who is brave, kind and unwilling to waste her life on fashion and fribbles. Instead, she helps her father in the surgery -- and as he grows frailer, takes over -- and makes something of her life. Her care for the injured Alexander Sterne (known as Adam because of memory loss for much of the story) is touching, with interesting bits about Regency-era medicine thrown in for good measure. There's some meat to this story. We see again how rare it is for women to have choices, and how a sister in a house after a brother marries -- even a wonderful brother -- is left spinning her wheels. Hero's betrayal by Alexander -- he doesn't tell her his real identity -- is well-told and induces a tear or two. Yet Counts does not let the misunderstanding linger or become overly bitter. This is the best kind of escape reading, with characters who become friends, fall in love and (we trust) live happily ever after. (I received an ARC from NetGalley. Opinions mine.)
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My favorite thing about this book was definitely Hero's medical knowledge and her confidence in it. I loved seeing her saving patients left and right, all without breaking a sweat. The one thing that weirded me out was that the book started from the point of view of the parents of the hero. I feel like it both spoiled the book a little bit and set a weird tone.
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This book did not hold my attention. It seemed to ramble somewhat and events  seemed out of sync. I think it could be shortened and the story tightened up and more romance. 

This book was given to me free by netgalley for my honest review, freely given.
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