Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Review: With this Kiss: The Complete Collection by Eloisa James

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Colin Barry is the eldest son of Sir Griffin Barry, retired pirate/privateer and notorious justice of the peace in Bath. Grace Ryburn is the eldest daughter of James Ryburn, retired pirate/privateer and now, His Grace, the Duke of Ashburn. Their families have a shared past and have remained connected over the years and the nine Barry and Ryburn children have grown up in each other's company.

Being older than the rest, Colin is forging a path (and setting the bar) for the rest of his siblings and has decided to pursue a career in the Navy, which is as close to piracy as he can legally get. Colin is intelligent and talented and eager to make his father proud of him -- except Colin hates being in the Navy. He hates the violence, the injuries and the deaths that he encounters on a regular basis, and it is only Grace who knows about it.

Grace is solid, serious and silent -- the exact opposite of her younger sister, Lily who shines and sparkles and charms everyone. Everyone loves Lily, and Grace doesn't mind it if the whole world loves Lily more -- Grace only wants the love of one person: Colin Barry.

They seemed so similar, so like-minded -- and the exchanged letters over the years. In Grace's mind and heart, she believed that Colin favored her, loved her, but her faith gets shattered in a devastating manner when Colin comes home, sees Lily across the ballroom for the first time in a very long time, he reacts to her brightness, falls in love and asks to marry her.

"I don't sleep much," he told his father, blinking because Sir Griffin was a little hazy in the dark carriage. "But I think it will be all right tonight."

"I'm so glad," his father said, but he sounded sad.

So Colin added, "Because of the dancing. Because of Lily."


His father sounded a little dubious, so Colin made the statement even more positive. "When she's there, and I'm dancing with her, and she's smelling of roses in late summer, I don't think so much. She's my tonic."
- loc 515

Grace puts on a brave face and supports her sister and Colin, both of them very dear to her and whose happiness is of paramount importance to her -- but she cannot help the gnawing ache when she sees how very happy Colin is with Lily. Except Colin isn't truly happy with Lily -- it takes him some time to figure out who it is he really loves -- the question is, will Grace wait for Colin?

Their parents' stories were amazing but the children's story was truly enchanting. This novel was originally serialized in three parts and I think Eloisa James maximizes the format really well. Each part has a clear story and purpose and succeeds in building up the stakes and the emotions for the next part.

Grace and Colin and the rest of their siblings have known each other since they were children and it is inevitable that love will blossom somewhere along the way -- but even that certainty comes with its own uncertainty: with whom? And Colin surprises everyone when he falls in love with Lily.

Bittersweet. Bittersweet. Bittersweet. That one word that encapsulates the feeling of pleasure and pain together -- that perfectly encapsulates Grace's emotions the moment when her hopes and dreams all fall apart.

Having spent a few years in London ballrooms, Grace could diagnose love at first sight as well as anyone. Colin had just fallen in Love. And Lily? Perhaps Lily had as well. She had a weakness for men in uniform. She was smiling at Colin, holding his hands and smiling up at him with such unmitigated pleasure that Grace wanted to weep. Or vomit.
- loc 457 to 469

Eloisa James is known to write lighthearted romances and there are some really fun moments in this novel, but the author surprises me in this book by making me feel ... pinches in my heart. It was agonizing for me to read this (and I imagine those who followed this as a serial also felt the anguish and the excitement of how the first part ends): we know that Grace and Colin belong together. Why can't Colin see this? How will Eloisa James write their way to love?

Depth and candor are both found in this book as James tackles the love between friends, sisters, family and lovers. While this is a follow-up to The Ugly Duchess and Seduced by a Pirate, With this Kiss isn't based on any particular fairy tale -- but, perhaps, it is the one novel that captures that magical moment found in many fairy tales: the kiss -- the kiss that awakens, the kiss that transforms, the kiss that ends the story with "And they lived happily ever after, and the kiss that begins everything.

With this Kiss was originally released weekly in three serialized parts (last March) and finally compiled in a complete collection in June 2013.

To find out more about Eloisa James and her books, click below:


  1. Hi, Tin!

    I’ve been interested in reading this for some time now and cannot tell you how delighted I am to find that it’s been compiled into a complete collection. I’m betting that all of the stories are really good!

  2. Hi, Connie!

    I'm glad they compiled it as well! I couldn't imagine reading and waiting a week for the next installment.

    If you've been following the Ryburns and the Barrys, this is a must read. ^_^

    Have a great day!



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