Sunday, November 2, 2014

Kiss and Tell by Grace Burrowes ~~~~ A Sweetest Kiss Novella

Divorce is a messy business. It's often a battlefield. Formerly  happily married spouses are at odds with each other, family secrets are exposed, emotions run high with discussions over custody issues and money. Family and friends are expected to choose sides. Holidays become tense, scheduled events. Choosing the right lawyer can make a huge difference in determining and finalizing the settlements in one's favor. Kiss and Tell features two lawyers who specialize in family law and is the first novel in Grace Burrowes contemporary series set in Damson Valley, Maryland.

Grace Burrowes delivers an outstanding  story in this 89-page novella. It's an honest, compelling look at marriage, relationships and family law set in a small town. The opening paragraphs in Kiss and Tell are superbly written. The reader is immediately drawn into the story as Dorie Almquist describes her version of what's wrong with her marriage to her attorney Dunstan Cromarty. Her story is full of anger, frustration and hurt;  feelings that anyone who has been in a long-term relationship can relate to. Dorie refuses to consider Cromarty's suggestion of counseling or mediation.

'What will this divorce cost me?" Is the first question that Calvin Almquist asks his attorney Jane DeLuca. Calvin is a busy accountant, too career focused to see that his 17 year marriage is disintegrating.  He doesn't understand that divorce will cost him his wife, family and his savings. Calvin can't sort out what happened to his marriage . He refuses Jane's offer to seek outside guidance.

Jane used the law library because people frequented the place. People who might pass the time of day with her, or needed a hint where the Atlantic Second Reporters were shelved. People who made quiet, comforting people -friendly noises without troubling her. She'd have to find somewhere new to work that didn't leave her open to attacks from Highland shoe pirates.

Give me my shoe.

He hesitated a single instant before passing over the shoe, the smile becoming a damned dimple in his left cheek.

The excerpt sums up the first meeting between Jane DeLuca and Dunstan Cromarty, the opposing counsels in the Almquist case. I loved how they were trying to figure out each other's strategies. The back and forth banter between Jane and Dunstan made me smile and I enjoyed how they tested each other and sparred to determine each other's weaknesses.

Dunstan and Jane agree to meet at a monthly bar luncheon to discuss their case. They leave and walk to a local restaurant. They shared a delicious meal, had great conversation and most of all, enjoyed each other's company. Dunstan is amused by Jane's fondness for bread and her large bag which serves as briefcase, purse and gym bag. Jane finds Dunstan charming and sweet and wonders if his stern behavior is an act. By the end of the lunch, it's apparent that the couple is attracted to each other. But, both of them know that it would be unethical for them to act on their  feelings. 

This new book by Grace Burrowes contains all of the elements in her historical novels that readers have come to expect and enjoy. It's  told with honesty and a large dose of humor. The novel has a sexy, honorable hero in Dunstan Cromarty  and an intelligent attractive heroine in Jane DeLuca. This couple brings out the best in each other. What's not to like about a man who stocks his pantry with chocolate and scotch and talks to his cat? 

The couple has hard decisions to make about their personal and professional lives just as many readers do each day. Dunstan and Jane resonated with me and I wanted them to figure things out, go for it and have their happily ever after. I was surprised and pleased with their stories conclusion. There are several  secondary characters that I am looking forward to seeing in future books.  The novella is well-paced and the ending was perfectly satisfying.

Kiss and Tell is the perfect read for a cold, rainy afternoon. Enjoy the book with some chocolate  and a glass of wine ( or scotch ). .....   you will be glad that you did!

Reviewed by Susan Gorman

Photo by Normajean Dee

Normajean has loved photography and animals all her life.
She usually has her camera by her side.

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