Release Date: Feb 4, 2020
Heat Level: Scorching
The Kissing Game or the Dating Game?
Okay… I can admit that I am a semi-stickler for titles that make sense with a book and for me this title made sense for about two seconds. With a name like The Kissing Game, I expected our hero to be attempting to steal kisses or con the heroine into giving kisses at every turn. That didn’t happen exactly. As for the rest of it, not as horrible as the title gaffe.
For readers of Harte, this book from what I gather, is a long time coming. A lovely matchup between two beloved characters – our hero, an in-the-flesh Viking heartthrob, Axel Heller and our heroine, waitress/hair stylist Rena Jackson. Both characters have been featured in Harte’s, The McCauley Brother’s series, but you don’t have to be in the know to get into this book.
Axel suffers from a bad case of unrequited love. He’s wanted to get to know Rena since the day he met her. Rena is finally ready to open her own salon and put the kibosh on her days as a waitress at the not-so-classy neighborhood bar. Meaning Axel has one last chance to ask Rena out or risk losing the chance of his dreams.
For Rena, Axel’s interest is nice, but suspect. She can’t afford to waste any more time. She wants to find love but is a true romantic and I really enjoyed how Axel tried to become the romantic she needed. From watching Lifetime movies to reading romance, Axel is more than just a traditional guy who works on cars. He is proof that men can do non-traditional things if it means learning how to love their woman the right way. Including giving the heroine a gift every day leading up to Valentine’s day, though some of those gifts are awful and hilarious. Too bad Axel has a load of baggage from his childhood and Rena has her own childhood hang ups as well.
Plot-wise, this is heavy romance, stemming around Axel and Rena coming together. If you’re a fan of Harte then this book is right up your alley as the McCauley’s, the Donnigans, and many more characters from other series make an appearance. What left me salivating is Axel’s brother, Maksim and I hope this almost-Axel twin gets his own book in the future. There are a few side-plot issues, and they fold in well to Axel and Rena overcoming issues from their past to forge a future.
Why only a three? I liked the book, it just wasn’t what I expected. There were elements I wanted included missing and though Rena and Axel coming together was ultimately sweet, I felt like the title and the back-cover blurb gave me one idea while the story delivered another. Secondly, there were some imposing other POV’s that I didn’t believe were necessary and Rena’s reactions to certain situations came off as over-the-top where she’d never acted that way before.
Overall, the book was good. I liked it and read it in under a day. My reading time is a decent indicator of whether I enjoyed a book or not. I do strongly believe titles need to match stories, but while this is my first Harte book it won’t be my last.