Lion Heart

On Bended Knee

Perfect in Your Sight

The Imposterís Kiss
by Tanya Anne Crosby
(Harl. Hist., $5.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-29283-X
When I close a book in the middle of a love scene, or in the middle of one of the defining moments of a story to go shift the laundry, I am NOT engaged in the book. The Imposterís Kiss is one of those books.

The tale is a little convolutedÖokay it is a lot convoluted. There are strings hanging throughout this story that make no sense. As you read, you just have to accept that and keep reading. Or, as I am recommending, donít start reading at all.

In 1803, in the principality of Meridian, Prince Julian met and seduced Fiona McEwen She had twin boys named Merrick and Ian. Julian forced Fiona to choose one child. He kept one to raise with the woman he was to wed, who was more suitable for the role of princess. The other child and Fiona were sent home to her familyís estate, which Julian now owned. He provided for her as long as she kept quiet.

It is now 1831. Merrick, who grew up with Julian, has discovered that his real mother is alive and living elsewhere. What he doesnít know is why, so he journeys to England from his Scottish home to discover the truth. What Merrick finds is his twin, who he didnít know existed, robbing his carriage and leaving him unconscious, dressed in Ianís clothes. Ian then appears to have taken the carriage and gone to Scotland, dressed as Merrick.

When Merrick realizes what Ian has done, he decides to play along to discover why his mother abandoned him. Here the story gets even more convoluted. Fiona, it seems, is an invalid, the result of an accident caused during a robbery by the Robin Hood-type thief known as Hawk. Hawk, whose real identity is Ian, robs people and gives the money to the local villagers. They need the money because Lord Lindale, who is also Ian, is a miser with money and gouges the renters with high rents and taxes. I know I have lost several of you now, just as Crosby loses her reader in the story.

Maybe this will help. A man who is a lord (Ian) acts like an ogre so he can masquerade as a thief, only to discover his twin. Said twin Merrick, then poses as Ian and his alter ego, while Ian goes off posing as Merrick. Where are Mary Kate and Ashley when you need them?

Oh, wait, this is a romance. Chloe Simon is a young woman who does silly things and falls into the trap of many young historical novel heroines. Chloe hated Ian and now canít figure out why he has changed after his accident. But she falls in love, decides she is beneath the lord of the manor, and wants her one night of passion.

My biggest problem, which is just one of many, is the lies and actions of all the main characters. While all this playacting is going on, Merrick is transformed from the Prince he was raised to be into the local village do-gooder who wants to spend his life with his love, Chloe, and will give up his kingdom to do it. The whole reason he came here was to confront Fiona, and he never does!

Chloe, meanwhile, is so caught up in her love-hate relationship with Merrick, who she thinks is Ian, that she canít see the forest for the trees. With her little bit of medical training, she is constantly amazed at the strength in Fionaís supposedly useless legs when she massages them. But she never confronts Fiona with her suspicions. She knows Ian seems different, but that is the extent of her thinking. Her relationship with Ian goes from one of hate and disdain to mild curiosity to heart throbbing lust to love. All during this transformation she distrusts him and knows he is hiding something from her. And she remains infatuated with Hawk, the man of her dreams due to all his good deeds.

The Imposterís Kiss is actually the elaborate set-up for the second book, Ianís story. And I am certain it will detail Ianís discoveries after taking the carriage and heading to see his father. Maybe all the loose ends will be tied up neatly in a bow for those readers who care to read it to find out.

As for me, I will stick to my laundry.

--Shirley Lyons

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