Hero: Colin Barry
Heroine: Lady Grace Ryburn
Lady Grace Ryburn, the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Ashbrook, has fallen wildly in love with Colin Barry, a dashing young lieutenant serving his country in the Royal Navy. When he returns home to exuberant celebrations, will he even notice the quiet wallflower he grew up with … or will he fall for Grace’s sparkling, gorgeous sister?
Author’s Note: Lady Grace is the eldest daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Ashbrook, from The Ugly Duchess, and Colin is the eldest adopted son of Sir Griffin Barry, from Seduced by a Pirate.
Rowena: Holly and I don’t often review books together but it’s something that we’ve always said we wanted to do. We both thought it would be a good idea to review the three parts of With this Kiss by Eloisa James together…and we had a good time doing it. So here is our not-so-review-more-like-discussion of With this Kiss, Pt. 1.
It should probably surprise me that we had the same reaction to the first part, but I’m not. Like you, I cried like a baby throughout the entire first part. From the time she upends the pitcher of water over Colin’s head to the end with…John.
So, what did you think?
Holly: Overall? I thought it was a rather heartbreaking story. I felt so terrible for Grace the entire time. Being in love with a man who doesn’t see you, coupled with constantly standing in the shadow of your younger sister? Awful.
Rowena: My heart hurt for Grace. She was such a great character that I wanted to hit Colin upside his head more than once. She was so fiercely loyal to him and he comes home and has eyes only for her sister? The sister, who’s shadow Grace can’t seem to get out from under? Yeah, that sucked big donkey balls but I really liked the relationship that Grace had with her parents. Both of them. The way that they supported her and were there for her, really worked for me. It was good to see them again (their story is told in The Ugly Duchess), all these years later.
I also really liked that Lily was a brat but she loved her sister. You could tell that much.
Holly: Yes, I agree about Lily. You wanted to hate her, but couldn’t because she obviously cared for her sister.
When Colin came home and refused to see Grace my heart stuttered a bit. I wasn’t mad at him, though, because it was obvious he was hurting. He didn’t realize he was hurting Grace – or he did, but he didn’t realize the depth of her hurt – but I could see how he didn’t want to face her, knowing she knew all his secrets.
In that regard, I really came to like Colin. He took the war seriously. For him, killing wasn’t a thrill or something to celebrate. I liked how much he struggled to become the person he thought his father wanted, but still retain his humanity.
Rowena: Yes, you could tell that Lily held great affection for Grace and wouldn’t have wanted to hurt her. I thought James did a great job of showing us that sisterly bond. Grace was jealous of Lily but she loved her and wanted her to be happy.
I was sad because I understood why Colin didn’t want to see Grace but it hurt me because I felt Grace’s pain. The pain of writing those letters to bring a smile to his face while he was away at war, the pain of not getting very many responses from him in return. The pain of seeing the boy that you adored, turn into the man that you loved and to not have him return the feelings? Well, it made me cry.
What I really liked about Grace was that even though she was mad and emotional, she kept her head and she was always honest with herself.
This made me cry:
…Sometimes she felt as if she lived merely to find the funniest moments and put them onto paper, to capture a face so amusing that it would make Colin laugh in the midst of battle.
She had obviously created a romance in her head and heart that didn’t exist. She was always imagining what he was thinking in response to her letters, but she must have been wrong. Perhaps he didn’t even keep her letters…
…The pain hit her so hard that she actually sank to her knees on the carpet, clutching the wooden box, wondering how one lived with a broken heart, especially when one’s beloved is married to a sister.
Oh dammit, I’m crying again.
Holly: This is the part that made me forgive him.
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.” He swept his hand in the air and accidentally hit the wall of the carriage.
His father’s hand landed on his knee, warm and steady. “I love you, Colin. We all love you.”
What was the point of saying that? He would have asked, but all the champagne swept up into his head and he collapsed into the corner of the carriage.
In the end, the memories invaded his sleep, anyway.
But when he woke up, he remembered that it was Lily who had chased them away.
I understood why Colin stayed away from Grace and I knew that it was hard for him to be around her but even with all of the understanding in the world, I hurt for Grace. For me, I guess I was so disappointed that of all the girls in London, he turned to Lily. The one girl that would break Grace’s heart, good.
Holly: I definitely hurt for Grace, too. Like you, I enjoyed how levelheaded she was. She realized she was the one building castles in the sky and, even though it hurt, knew when to let go.
I loved when Colin started realizing it was Grace he missed. The way he yearned for her letters. *sigh*
If only the letter had come from Grace . . .
It wasn’t Lily’s fault that she wasn’t as intelligent as her sister. Nor as witty and kind. That wasn’t fair: Lily was kind. But she was shallow compared to Grace.
She was a waltz, and Grace was a hymn. He turned over in bed and went to sleep, thinking about it.
Rowena: You know what part made me roll my eyes? The part where he commanded her to come…and she did.
Holly: Right? Why does that always happen? I’m sorry, but no. Just no.
Rowena: I know, it never fails to make me laugh when the heroes in our books demand this of the heroines. How in the world do they think we can do that?
Colin had me swooning all over the place with stuff like that scene. I really enjoyed getting to know him.
For me, this was one of those romantic, sappy books that I ate right up. I loved the way that this first part pulled at my heart strings and made me come to love the characters so quickly. It made me so much more anxious for the next part and lucky for us, we had them all at once. I don’t know if I’d have been able to wait a week.
Overall, I thought this first part of Colin and Grace’s story did its job perfectly. It introduced characters that were easy to connect with and made me want more. I really enjoyed this first part. All of the crying I did is a testament to that.
Grade: 4.5 out of 5
Holly: I won’t lie, I was annoyed when it ended. I hate waiting. Hate it!
That aside, I can’t find much to complain about. James really pulled me into the story. Right from the beginning I was fully engaged. My heart hurt for both Grace and Colin. All in all, an excellent start.
4.5 out of 5
Final grade: 4.5 out of 5
*Please note that all quotes were taking from the unfinished eARC provided by the publisher.
This book is available from Avon Impulse. You can buy it here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.