Friday, February 10, 2012
Ashton Burke has always been the unwanted, unappreciated spare. His father and brother constantly reminded him of his low stature. The single-most important thing in his life was Clarinda -- and he made the foolish mistake of walking away from her 8 years ago, in hopes of "finding himself" and being more worthy of Clarinda.
Clarinda never wanted anything as badly as she wanted to be with Ash. After one night of passion and surrender, she finds herself abandoned and alone. It is 8 years later and she's tired of waiting. She is on her way to Burma to embark on a new adventure and a new role as wife -- to Ash's brother.
Since their school days, Poppy Montmercy has always lived and walked in Clarinda's shadow. She's happy to be there and to follow where Clarinda leads -- including this latest trip to Burma. But now, she's discovered something that she wants for herself. And she's ready to step out and be her own person.
Farouk is king of all that he sees. He has wealth and women in his possession. He wants to move his kingdom to the future, but he must deal with his uncle and his insistence of clinging to the past. He hasn't completely shaken off 'Frankie' -- the boy who was sent off to England for an education; the boy who needs spectacles and loves to read Coleridge.
Then there's Maximillian, Ash's brother. And Luca, Ash's trusty sidekick. And Yasmin, Clarinda's nemesis at the harem. And Solomon, the eunuch.
There's also Morocco, which titillates the senses and brings to mind lushness and hedonism. The setting is an important factor in this story and Medeiros does a good job describing harem life and the desert very vividly.
This was an ambitious project: a love story that spans almost a decade (and two continents), a legion of characters, an exotic location and over 500 pages of text.
There are moments in the novel when it felt like an action-adventure movie. And this novel employs a lot of dramatic elements -- the cliffhanger, the dramatic dialogue and dramatic reveal, the journey through the desert, etc.
It's well-written and progresses nicely from beginning to end. There is enough action and excitement to carry the reader through reading this fairly lengthy novel.
The main weakness of The Pleasure of Your Kiss is the lack of focus. As Medeiros attempts to tell her story and to connect all the elements together, depth of story and character is sacrificed. The constant shifting of POV from different characters made it a bit difficult at times to follow who was "talking" --
The love triangle between Ash, Clarinda and his brother could have benefitted from a few more pages.
I would have loved to read more about the rocky relationship of younger Ash and Clarinda. (And would have wanted to find out more about what happens to Farouk <-- could have been a separate novel.)
The ending felt a bit rushed and loose ends were tied up a little too conveniently.
(I am glad that Ash's brother is getting his own story next.)