Blending passion and wholesomeness isn't always easy, but Eloisa James manages to pull it off in "Kiss Me, Annabel" (Avon Books, $6.99). This is the second book in James' series about four orphaned, dowry-less sisters in search of rich husbands in 1800s England.
Annabel grew up poor and didn't like it. She dreamed of finding a rich husband who could keep her safe and secure. Love didn't play a part in that dream.
When she meets Ewan, she's immediately attracted, but he has two critical strikes against him: He's from Scotland, to which Annabel has vowed never to return, and rumor has him looking for a rich wife because he's poor.
Ewan, whom Annabel pegs as always looking amused, is attracted to Annabel as well, but respects her resolve to marry a rich Englishman.
But fate conspires against them. Or, rather, for them, since they're obviously soul mates, destined to spend their lives happily-ever-after in loving bliss.
A scandal forces Annabel to accept Ewan's proposal of marriage, and the couple embarks on a slow journey back to Scotland, where they will be wed. Because Ewan is an honorable gentleman, and because of his religious convictions, he vows to wait until after their wedding to act married.
But he allows himself 10 kisses a day with Annabel.
Both look forward to those kisses and contrive ways to extend the number. In the process, each learns a lot about the other and realizes the depth of their love.
Annabel then understands that marrying for money isn't nearly as satisfying as marrying for love. She explains it to Ewan this way: "I thought I would feel safe if I could just wear silk every day. I had no idea that the only currency that mattered was love."