THE KISS

Author(s): 
Minger delivers an old-fashioned, cliched romance with The Kiss.

Twenty-nine-year-old Tess has never made her own decisions, letting her need for approval from her cold stepmother and father guide her life. Now she's due to marry Paul, a man she isn't sure she even likes, never mind loves, in a blowout wedding.

The night before the nuptials, Tess runs into her childhood crush, Will Tremere, a family friend of her maid of honor, Brooke. They share a dance and a few sparks, and Will gives his number to Tess just in case the wedding doesn't happen. He's driving back to Los Angeles with a friend's pet tomorrow.

When Tess catches Paul and his ex-girlfriend in a tryst at the church, she bolts and, on an impulse, calls Will to join him on his road trip. They get along great, but Tess has a lot of emotional baggage to work through, and Will fears Paul will not let her go gracefully. As he concocts a drastic plan to keep her safe, a deeper love begins to simmer amid all the chaos.

A preposterous plot and unconvincing characters strip credibility from this road-trip romance. Saint Will is a too-perfect-to-be-believed fantasy man, and a ridiculous final twist reveals him to be both rich and famous. Tess, meanwhile, is a weak, vulnerable flower. The idea that the only way she can be safe from the bullying Paul and her manipulative stepmother is by jumping into a "protective" marriage with Will completely undermines the inner strength and independence Tess is supposedly gaining. Minger lets her deliver a feisty speech at the final showdown, but it's very clear that Tess is not a heroine, she's a victim in need of rescue. (Mar., 296 pp., $6.99)
Reviewed by: 
Tara Gelsomino