Laura Lee Guhrke is usually a fallback author for me, with Lorraine Heath and Eloisa James, but All About Romance publishes an annual list of their readership’s top romances of all time and I had seen And Then He Kissed Her on it a few years ago, so this historical romance had been on my personal wish list for a while. Recently, it came up on Amazon for $1.99 and I snapped it up immediately. It did not disappoint.
Emmaline Dove (GREAT name) has been the personal secretary to handsome, divorced Harry the Earl for five years. Subsuming herself to her role, she is everything he needs her to be and he, of course, takes her for granted. Having written and submitted five etiquette books to him, which he always refuses to publish, Emma’s final straw comes when she realises that Harry has never actually read any of her books before rejecting them. She quits. He panics. She gets a job writing etiquette and household advice (read: late Victorian Martha Stewart) working for a competitor. He buys the competitor’s newspaper. They work together. Harry finally gets to know the real Emma, not the perfect secretary version she portrayed for her job. They fall in love and each is freed from their misconceptions about themselves and their lives. Lovely.
When I started And Then He Kissed Her, I feared it would be a Victorian office romance, but it avoided that pitfall and was a great genre read. Harry and Emma had strong chemistry and the story was by turns sweet, funny, and sexy. There were some hodge-podgey historical elements that irked me a bit, such as Harry admonishing Emma to be her own person and do what she wants in life to which one of the voices in my head replied, “Easy for you to say rich, male, aristocratic person who can do whatever the hell you want!”, but my quibbles were not any great detriment to the story. It was an enjoyable read and one I suspect I will revisit. Plus, as I had hoped, the title of the book does occur in the text and it was wonderfully timed.