by Susan King

November 2003
ISBN: 0-451-21062-X
Reviewer Graphic Button Signet Books
Mass Market Paperback

Susan King returns to the unforgettable Victorian-era Scotland setting in her last book of her trilogy, with the Highland tale of Kissing the Countess. Unlike her other two stories, Taming the Heiress and Waking the Princess, this book takes a decidedly different meander through the mountains of the Highland.

High ontop a mountaintop, the redhaired beautiful recluse, Catriona MacConn, is at her happiest. She is built for this world, not a small timid woman, more sturdy like the beautiful mountains she cross with ease. Her cast is life is not for riches, or even for marriage, for alas, she is the plane one, the plane girl that must stay at home, a servent to her reverent father, the one that takes care of others in her family all her life while neglecting her own happiness. But Catriona never desired more that what fate had handed her, until one day, when the winds blew cold and fate dropped at her feet.

Evan Mackenzie, the new Earl of Kildonan, intended for a quick walk in the highlands of his boyhood. Sent away when he was young, he couldn't wait to return to the remote Highland mountains of his childhood for a climbing holiday and for one final look before the land was parceled out. But a quick snowstorm catches him by surprise and he falls. Fortunately for him Catriona is on her way home from a visit. Her quick strength and quick thinking recue him and save his life. In the cozy mountain cabin where they await the storm to end, they lose themselves to the passion of the moment. Now he must not only win the heart of the woman he has come to love, but find a way to save her mountain.

I enjoyed the beginning of this book tremendously! Who wouldn't relate to being stranded in a snowstorm with a gorgeous man and making love to stay warm? Living in Central New York, it's a common and sometimes realistic fantasy! Adding the touch of Gaelic Highland tunes that Catriona sang while she walked the mountain terrain made me imagine I was there.

The minor characters weren't as interesting as in other highland stories, but the main characters were all that really mattered. It was interesting that at first I couldn't imagine how these two very different characters were going to have anything in common and I couldn't imagine Catriona changing her sweet, plain ways. I love the way Ms. King makes her characters like each other first, then find out what they really have in common, then they'll risk their lives for each other.

The story had its ups and downs, but I felt all the passion in the rest of the book couldn't match the beginning.Did I tell you I really liked the beginning? I really didn't care for all the mountain climbing information, but then you might! As usual, Ms. King writes superbly and you don't want to put the story down and then regret it when you've read it so fast! This wasn't my favorite of her trilogy but I would highly recommend taking a few hours to melt into the pages of Kissing the Countess!

Reviewed in February 2004 by Suemarie.

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