As You Wish contains four novellas – Seduced by a Pirate and With This Kiss Parts 1, 2 and 3. All I can say is thank god they were all together, as I think I would have died if I’d had to wait between each part, based on where each novella finishes!
Seduced by a Pirate involves Sir Griffin Barry, a character who first appeared in The Ugly Duchess. Having been given a full pardon by the crown after years of privateering, and sporting a leg injury, Sir Griffin decides to return home to Pheobe, the wife he last saw fourteen years ago after the total failure of a wedding night. He arrives home to find three children significantly younger than fourteen years old, and a wife who wants nothing to do with him.
I loved this novella, and while I haven’t yet read the Ugly Duchess, I don’t feel I missed out on anything. In fact, the only reason I knew was due to the authors note at the front. Phoebe is strong and takes no crap from Griffin but she does of course find herself physically attracted to him, after all who wouldn’t! Griffin doesn’t do much to help himself, calling her Poppy which he assumed was her name. “He must have misheard during the wedding ceremony. Bloody hell”. Particularly funny since he had not only named his ships after her but he also had a poppy tattooed on his face!
Ms James again manages to produce a wonderfully romantic story and my only disappointment is that it was too short, so everything happened so quickly. Definitely a recommended read if you are in the mood for some romance.
With this Kiss, Part 1 remains with the family but focuses on Colin Barry, the eldest adopted son of Sir Griffin, and Lady Grace Ryburn who is the daughter of his cousin and fellow ex-pirate, The Duke of Ashbrook.
This is a story that starts in childhood and continues during adolescence and into adulthood. It’s fraught with miscommunication and misunderstandings which ordinarily would annoy me, but With This Kiss is so well written that it didn’t. If I’d had to wait between novellas mind you, I might have said something different!
The first novella in particular was extremely emotional and I wanted to kick Colin up the backside at times. Grace is very much a wallflower, always overshadowed by her younger sister Lily, but surprisingly I did not hate her. Lily is very likeable and naturally effervescent, having no idea how her sister feels. I was close to tears at times and the ending of With This Kiss is not somewhere I ever want a book to finish – thank goodness I had the next one available to read immediately.
In Part 2, both are older and wiser. Grace is certainly much more able to stand up for herself and appreciate her own talents. Colin has returned from sea injured, battle weary and has finally wised up to his feelings, but doesn’t think to tell Grace and in desperation she takes matters into her own hands.
There again follows some very well written emotional scenes which tugged at my heartstrings for both of them, although if they had just communicated properly all would have been well – but then the book would have been shorter and far less interesting! Again this novella ended in a most unsatisfactory place leaving me definitely wanting more, so I swiftly moved onto the next.
Part 3 was all about the happy ever after (and some great sex), and it was definitely worth waiting for! Having followed them through their lives I felt very invested in them. The entire three parts to the story totalled just over two hundred pages but it seemed so much longer and a lot was packed in without compromising the story. The epilogue was hilarious and I do hope we get to see more of Portia – maybe she will have her own story at some point. I can but hope!
Overall, With This Kiss was wonderful, emotional and very romantic. A perfect book (in its entirety) for a miserable winter afternoon.