Friday, August 19, 2011

The Kiss That Counted by Karin Kallmaker

Publisher:                Bella Books

CJ Roshe is an extremely successful real estate agent and more successful at getting whatever woman she wants. She leads a life with no connections and no real roots since it helps her to hide a past and a secret that could destroy everything, but she can't help wonder what it would be like to live with friends and know that she wouldn't have to always be ready to run at the first sign of danger. Nothing would have changed if CJ hadn't had an extra glass of wine one day and run a stop sign in front of a police officer, then been assigned to community service as part of her sentence. 

When she arrives at a women's shelter to do her time, CJ meets Karita Hanssen who is going to change everything. Karita lives each day as it comes also, but in a very different way. Between her job, hours at the shelter, more volunteer hours at an animal shelter and her friends, Karita has a full life, almost full enough not to miss having anyone special to share it. She's always felt she was touched by magic and she knows that magic will bring someone to her someday. As CJ and Karita build a friendship, they begin to see what each is looking for in the other, but happily ever after only occurs in fairy tales. Reality intrudes threatening the future both women would like to have.

Kallmaker has returned to the style of some of her earlier novels and has written a very strong book. The characters are well developed and the plot unfolds at a perfect pace. Kallmaker shows her experience as a writer in not rushing incidents, but allowing them to play themselves out. The reader is given time to digest the action in the book and absorb its impact on the characters, yet the timeline doesn't drag either. The characters discover things about each other gradually instead of forcing their information onto the pages. Characters are multidimensional and interact with other characters in the book on different levels, showing both strengths and weaknesses as real people would. There are also strong secondary characters who contribute to the story at key plot points.

There is a romance here, but there is also a bit of a mystery as the reader begins to wonder what CJ's secret is and how she will resolve the problem once it is revealed. In the end,
The Kiss That Counted is also a testimony to friendship and the changes it can cause in a person's life. Kallmaker shows with the skill in this book why she deserves such a large fan following.

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