Title: The Pleasure of Your Kiss
Author: Teresa Medeiros
Ashton Burke is a legendary adventurer who has spent the past ten years roaming the globe to forget the girl he left behind. His devil-may-care life is interrupted when he’s hired to rescue his brother’s kidnapped fiancée from a sultan’s harem. Too late, he discovers she is none other than Clarinda Cardew, the very same girl who made off with his jaded heart a decade ago.
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. Although he vows he is only doing his job, Clarinda quickly realizes that allowing Ashton to rescue her may put her yearning heart in even greater peril. In a journey that takes them from the delicious intrigues of a sultan’s court to the glittering ballrooms of London, Ashton and Clarinda resume the steps of their dangerous dance only to discover the most seductive pleasure of all may be love itself.
This book reminded me of all the reasons I fell in love with Teresa Medeiros a long time ago. While I’ve enjoyed her recent books of the past few years, Ms. Medeiros’ voice and style really seem to shine with stories like this.
Clarinda and Ash were young lovers once, before Ash felt the need to go off on his own and prove himself worthy of her. Many years later Clarinda is engaged to Ash’s brother and travels to meet him for their wedding, but she and her best friend Poppy are captured by corsairs when their ship is attacked, then they are sold into a harem. Clarinda’s fiance has his own reasons for not being able to rescue her from the harem and instead makes a bargain with Ash to save the women.
This book was one of many surprises. First of all, the sultan who bought Clarinda and her friend from the slave traders was sent to an English school by his father and actually knew both Ash and his brother Max as children. Because of this, and because Ash actually saves Farouk when he first arrives at his palace, the question is not how Ash can steal Clarinda away from an enemy, but how he can still her away from a friend.
Secondly, I’m not usually a fan of secondary romances, but I really enjoyed and even looked forward to the development of the relationship between Farouk and Poppy.
As for Ash and Clarinda, the best word I can use to describe reading about their relationship is simply: fun. Per classic Medeiros, we have much banter and witty dialogue, and there are several sexy scenes where Clarinda must play out her role as guest of the harem in front of Ash. I read another review of this book in which the reader said that it reminded her of an Indiana Jones storyline, and I would definitely agree that there was a great aspect of adventure in this book. As Ash and Clarinda work together to try to escape the palace, secrets are revealed that show how each wanted to be with the other after their initial separation, but (believable) circumstances and misunderstandings got in the way. Reading about these failed reconciliations made me root for them all the more and made up for the occasional times I wished for more emotional depth between the two.
Overall, I highly recommend this book for historical romance readers who long for something outside of the ordinary. Teresa Medeiros remains one of the best storytellers of the genre.