Suzanne Brockmann – “Kiss and Tell”

5 Dec

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Bantam Books, 2008 (Bantam Loveswept, 1996)

SERIES: “Sunrise Key” trilogy, book 1

WHY THIS NOVEL: I read Stacy’s review and just had to read this book.

The back blurb:
“When Leila Hunt is swept off her feet by a ninja at a New Years Eve costume party, she has no idea who the masked man is–but after he disappears into the night, she’s determined to find him. When the clock struck twelve, what began as a friendly New Year’s greeting quickly became the most unforgettable kiss Leila had ever experienced with anyone–including her absent boyfriend. But of all the possible suspects, Leila hardly imagines that the ninja is the same man who’s teased, tormented–and secretly intrigued her–since childhood.
Marshall Devlin is finally ready to face the terrifying truth: he’s in love with his best friend’s sister, and has been for years. There’s just one complication: Leila didn’t know he was her ninja. To win her, Marsh will have to woo her. But can he make Leila forget their decades of verbal sparring in time to stop her from making the biggest mistake of her life?”

Kiss and Tell is a enemies-turned-lovers story and it plays with elements of the fairy tale Cinderella. This time, it’s the Prince who goes missing just after kissing Cinderella nearly senseless at Midnight, and Cinderella, aka Leila, has no idea who that Prince, or ninja in her case, was.

Leila and Marsh have a life-long history of being enemies. They argue about all and everything, even his hair:

“Your hair is in your eyes,” Leila told Marsh with exaggerated enunciation. “Most normal people would find that annoying and do something about it. Like fix it.”
“I happen to like my hair just the way it is, thanks,” Marsh said icily.
“You’re arguing about Dev’s hair?” Simon’s voice dripped with amazement and disbelief. (19)

So after Marsh realizes that Leila doesn’t know she kissed him at the party, he decides to not admit that he is the ninja she’s looking for because he’s afraid she won’t give him a chance then. Instead, he decides to open up to her and let her get to know him better. Of course, this is what sets the story in motion in the first place, but it also turns out that Leila has a few misconceptions about Marsh and so this probably is the right thing to do.

Seeing Marsh and Leila get to know and understand each other better was one of the things I liked a lot about this story. I also liked that Leila thinks she’s in love with Marsh before realizing that he is her ninja. And little gestures like Marsh pushing his hair out of his eyes after Leila told him about it added a nice touch to show that Marsh cared about her and wanted to please her.

But best of all are the poignant moments between them, like the morning after their New Year Eve’s kiss when Marsh is all happy about this while Leila doesn’t even know it was him who kissed her. Or like this one when Marsh tries to find out if he has a chance at all, being “a whole lot less than perfect:”

Marsh frowned slightly. “What if…” he cleared his throat. “What if he’s not truly perfect? I mean, what if he’s slightly less than perfect? Well, no, what I really mean is, what if he’s a whole lot less than perfect, but he still loves you madly, and all that? I mean, no one’s ever truly perfect…” (85)

The play with the fairy tale is especially strong at the beginning of the novel, but some elements of it are there throughout the story. For example, as there are three balls, there are three chances for Leila to discover who her ninja is: Marsh and she nearly kiss. Those three times, they get interrupted, the forth time it’s Leila who blows it. She thinks Marsh drunk and therefore acting this way while she’s sober and gets scared because

He’d kiss her, and then, God help her, they’d probably end up making love right there on the lawn above the beach, out in the moonlight, under the stars.
Because that’s what she wanted. She wanted to make love to Marsh Devlin.
And knowing that scared her to death. (189)

Of course, Marsh isn’t drunk at that moment so this is another of the more poignant moments between them in the story.

There are some romancelandia elements like Simon saying “I think that maybe you’re in love with this ninja, whoever he is” after Leila tells him about the magical kiss, or that Sunrise Key sounds like the typical small town paradise. And at the end, Leila says something that is usually a device to make the story longer. Only this time, it actually made sense for the story. It allowed for an ending where all story threads came together satisfactorily, most importantly Leila’s issues with living in a small town and the romance. So there are only tiny niggles on my side, and on the whole, I thought Kiss and Tell a sweet, well-paced and well-structured story about two people finding each other and a very enjoyable way to spent a few hours with reading.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Yes.

Grade: 4,5 / 5


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