|Emmaline Dove is part of a new breed of woman. She is a girl-
bachelor, as single career women were known in late Victorian
England. She works for Harry, Viscount Marlowe, a rakish publisher
notorious for his scandalous divorce and his public stand against
marriage. In addition to doing his secretarial work, Emma also buys
presents for his numerous paramours. Although she excels in choosing
the perfect goodbye gift, she finds it rather humiliating and puts up
with it only in the hopes that Harry will one day publish her book on
female etiquette. When he refuses yet another time, she takes her
chances with another publisher and quite happily bids Harry goodbye.
Some months later, however, he acquires her publishing house and she
finds herself working for him again.
Emma wonít let things fall back into their old pattern. For one, her
advice column is such an unexpected success that no astute businessman would fire her. This gives her the upper-hand in what had been a
rather one-sided relationship. For another, they finally acknowledge
their mutual attraction, even if it takes them a while before they
are ready to do something about it. And even then, they have a thing
or two to resolve before they settle in for the long haul.
If And Then He Kissed Her sounds like a boss-secretary romance
transposed to another century, itís because thatís pretty much what
it is. And yet, just as I thought I was settling down for a familiar
ride, the story took some interesting new routes. Most of these are
thanks to Emmaline, who has a lot more backbone and depths than I
might have expected. When she eventually caves in to Harryís demand,
both her timing and her reasons are perfect. After a lifetime of self-
denial and repression, she resolves to take her destiny into her own
hands and indulges herself in everything from chocolate to peaches to
Harry. She doesnít, however, forsake all her convictions. These
contradictions and complications make her an interesting heroine, one
I could admire as well as identify with.
Harry is less likeable and certainly more predictable. Like so many
romance-land rakes, he has had one bad experience with marriage and
doesnít care to try again. It takes him a while to realize that Emma
is well worth the attempt. His prolonged hesitation may be why I feel
she was wasted on him. He may have more experience, but she has more
wit, intuition and insight, important tools where banter and
seduction are concerned.
Guhrke makes good use of her setting. Although it might seem the era
is incidental to the story, she provides enough information to make
it an ideal backdrop and an effective way of livening up a much-too-
recognizable premise. All in all, And Then He Kissed Her is a well-wrought rendition of a standard plot.