THE PLEASURE OF YOUR KISS by Teresa MedeirosWhere to Find Teresa: Author Site | Twitter | Facebook
MASS MARKET PAPERBACK: 528 pages
PUBLISHER: Pocket Star (December 27, 2011)
Legendary adventurer Ashton Burke has roamed the globe for ten years trying to forget the spirited woman he left behind in England. His devil-may-care pursuits are interrupted, though, when he agrees to retrieve his brother's kidnapped fiancee from a sultan's harem. Too late, he discovers his quarry is none other than Clarinda Cardew, the very same girl who made off with his jaded heart.
The last thing Clarinda wants is to be trapped in a palace of sensual delights with the man whose irresistible kisses still haunt her sleepless nights. She quickly realizes that allowing Ashton to rescue her may put her yearning heart in even greater peril. In a journey both tantalizing and treacherous, Ashton and Clarinda resume the impetuous steps of their dangerous dance only to discover the most seductive pleasure of all may be love itself.
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Excuse me while I intermittently hum the theme song to Indiana Jones and I Dream of Jeannie while throwing in a few bars of A Whole New World from Aladdin as I type out this review. Don't mind me. *humming and typing*
Kidnapped on the high seas and sold to a sultan at market on the way to her wedding, Miss Clarinda Cardew and her friend Penelope "Poppy" Montmorency were only looking for one last grand adventure before settling down to become dull, respectable ladies of society. Poppy has high hopes of the dashing, legendary Captain Ashton Burke coming to rescue them from the sultan's harem. Clarinda brushes it off, painting Burke to be only that: a legend, nothing more.
No woman was worth dying for but Ashton Burke was in a bit of a pickle. He had helped a woman escape from her abusive husband only to find himself standing before a firing squad. Before he meets his maker, his brother Maximillian rescues him. His fiancee's been kidnapped and sold to a sultan. He wants Ash to bring her back. He would do it himself but being a chief director of the East India Company, he must think of how that would reflect on him and the company if goes barging in, gun ablazing.
Ash can't believe his brother is this passionate over a woman. Once he learns who she is, he's torn between wanting to rescue her and telling his brother to go to the devil. His relationship with his brother isn't as great as it was when they were children. Ash tells his brother that he will rescue Clarinda. Only if he pays him. Of course a man in love will pay whatever is asked of him. Ash is shocked by this.
So off he goes with his friend Luca to kidnap the sultan and use him as ransom to trade for Clarinda. Well, it seems Luca and Ash aren't the only one's after the sultan. Ash saves his life and realizes that the sultan is none other than the poor pudgy foreign boy his classmates used to beat up at Cambridge: Frankie or rather, Farouk. Farouk invites them to stay at his palace for saving his life. However, his uncle isn't all that happy about it. He's old school and thinks that his brother was a fool to have made peace with a warring tribe.
In a flurry of gauzy material, Clarinda rushes back into Ash's life. She's not too happy to see Ash even if he is there to rescue her. Who is this woman?! Ash had hyped her up to be a shrewish young girl that would dog his every step and make his life miserable. This couldn't be the same woman dressed in barely covering there material. Could it?
Clarinda and Poppy have been in Farouk's palace for three months. During that time, resident mean girl Yasmin, once the sultan's favorite and soon-to-be wife until Clarinda came along, torments them. She walks around in almost nothing, makes catty remarks about the next time the sultan sends one of the concubines to bathe the Englishman it would be her and she would please him.
Playing off of each other, Ash and Clarinda try to match each other witty remark for witty remark. Jealousy inciting action for jealousy inciting action. They constantly try to one up each other, hilarity and sexiness ensue. Old feelings resurface as Ash and Clarinda must play it up for the sultan and his court.
Farouk wants to make Clarinda his wife but she needs "lessons" from the women of his harem in the art of pleasure before he beds her. You know, so that she won't come to his bed as a total innocent. Clarinda pulls the whole '1001 Nights' thing saying that she's a virgin and needs those lessons. Too bad she's lying. As Ash went out to make a name for himself so that he could marry Clarinda, she rushes out to beg him to stay and they end up having sex in a meadow. (How romantical?) But that was years ago.
Meanwhile, Farouk doesn't understand why Poppy looks at him all googly-eyed. He doesn't know what to do with her. He finds her in his favorite place to be alone and is a bit confused. These tingly feelings are foreign to him. After two attempts on his life and Ash being there to save him each time, he shows his gratitude by offering Ash anything he wants. Hmm...anything? Perhaps Farouk should have re-thought that offer.
Ash wants Clarinda in a bad way. He keeps telling himself that she belongs to his brother. Max would give her his name so that the ton wouldn't gossip about her (at least in hearing distance) kidnapping and turning up in a sultan's harem. Max would provide for Clarinda in a way that Ash couldn't. Each stolen kiss, each smoldering stare, each light caress only magnifies their need for each other until it all comes to a sinfully wicked night together. Now Ash must find a way to get all of them (Clarinda, Poppy, Luca and himself) out of the sultan's palace and back to his brother so that Max can marry Clarinda. But can he really give her up. Again?
She was still amazed by how quickly modesty deserted one in this place, especially around the other women and eunuchs who guarded them. Back home an accidental flash of a petticoat hem was enough to cause a scandal and condemn a woman to a loveless marriage. Here the women often paraded around the harem in little but their sandals and a smile.OVERALL: Teresa Medeiros, I love you. I thoroughly enjoyed the witty, laugh out loud banter between Ash and Clarinda as they try to one up each other during their time in the palace. What I enjoyed the most was Poppy, being starry-eyed and pining for the Farouk. I kept rooting for her, wanting her to win him over with her genuineness and realness. He couldn't see that because he was so infatuated with Clarinda since she was such a novelty in his court. Action, adventure, romance, danger, a second chance at love, secrets, a handsome sultan, a dashing hero, a resourceful and intelligent heroine, the bookish best friend and the resident mean girl all wrapped in a gorgeous oasis-like pleasure dome. The little teaser at the end for Max's story makes me want to know more. Max was a background player in this book. The older brother concerned with doing what society deems proper. There's a sexy, sinful man just waiting to get out.
***review copy provided by publisher***