The Kiss That Counted

The Kiss That Counted - Karin Kallmaker Goodreads has been pushing this book at me ever since I joined. I love the cover but somehow the blurb is so vague, it doesn't really stand out from the rest of the 1001 lesfic romances out there. Boy, was I surprised at the actual premise and even more so at the execution.

CJ is very good at convincing people to part with their money--willingly. She's parlayed this talent into a very successful real estate career. But CJ has a past so dark that whereever she goes, she is constantly looking over her shoulder and scoping out the nearest exits. A traffic violation results in her doing community service at a battered women's shelter. There she meets kind-hearted volunteer Karita. Sparks fly and they share a spectacular parting kiss. Firmly convinced of her own incorrigibility, CJ is afraid of tainting the lily-white Karita with her dark past--a past that may catch up to her anytime. Karita meanwhile has had her share of past heartache, and CJ feels just a little bit too much like her old flame--rich, successful, entitled. And so they dance around their attraction and have dalliances with others--but all the while obssessing over THAT kiss.

There are so many things I love about the book. The tight plotting makes for a fast page-turner. I don't remember the last time I finished a book in 1 day. I'm a slow reader, but this was impossible to put down.
There are a number of characters in the book--all well-rounded and relatable and believable individuals of all stripes. The story is much more than a romance. Its also a tale of great friendships (+benefits ;) ) and redemption. There is angst (lots of it, yey!) and hurt/comfort. It's a study of great contrasts: How different the present CJ is from the old one; how different she perceives she is from Karita; how much she stands to lose if the past catches up with her. There is a lot of psychoanalyzing going around--that irritated me somewhat at first, not knowing what went before, but fortunately, the leads were able to overcome all that overthinking.

How does an author weave so many elements successfully--fairly complex plot, well-rounded characterizations, engaging dialogue, lots of psychoanalyzing(!), lovely sex, cuddly pets, even llamas, together in just 200+ pages? Fantastic writing and editing!

5 stars