The Secret Kiss of Darkness

Written by Christina Courtenay
Review by Barbara Goldie

I found the illustration on the front of the book very intriguing, and once opened, the cover is lifted on a world of pure escapism. The novel is set in two time frames, the present day and 18th-century Cornwall. Each is written very cleverly and seamlessly so that the two merge into one story. A great sense of time and place are created for both the settings. All the characters are believable and well-drawn and stand alone as individual personalities. I was especially drawn to Kayla.

Kayla, in the present time receives an inheritance. She uses this to purchase a life-size portrait at an auction. Jago is the subject in the portrait, an innkeeper and smuggler who lived during the 18th century in Cornwall. The fantasy starts when the portrait starts talking to Kayla and reveals a mystery for her to investigate.

Christina Courtenay tells a great story with writing that is easy to read and sits in each time frame snugly; it skips along at a great pace and keeps the reader entertained. The chapters are not too long; the dialogue is concise and descriptions extremely vivid. She adds broken engagements, fortune-telling, stately homes, handsome men and plenty of twists and turns to make it a compelling and engrossing read.

It is romance, history and fantasy combined: well recommended.