Nyx Book Reviews

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Review: Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle

Title: Kissing Shakespeare
Author: Pamela Mingle
Series: Standalone
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars

352 pages
Expected publication August 14th by Random House
ARC received through Netgalley

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I started this book when I was in the mood for a quick, light romance. Something that makes you warm and fuzzy inside. Judging from the cover I was at the right place for that with Kissing Shakespeare.

Young want-to-be actress Miranda gets whipped away to Tudor times by a fellow player, Stephen Langford. Here she gets the mission to seduce Shakespeare, who is in his teens. If she doesn’t succeed, all of his work might be lost.

The cover of Kissing Shakespeare is very misleading. It’s very sweet, with the pink and delicate title and flower in the girl’s hair. It’s absolutely nothing like the story. During the late 16th century, Queen Elizabeth had started war against everyone from the “old faith”. Protestantism was the state religion now, and Catholics were prosecuted. Especially Jesuits were wanted.

Kissing Shakespeare suffered from this background. It’s so dark and angst-filled. At one point a man is burned alive. Not in much detail, but it happens. This was not what I was expecting in this book. The whole mission of seducing Shakespeare isn’t romantic or swoony at all. It’s a duty, and one Miranda is reluctant to fulfil. There is very little seducing going on, it’s just a few stolen moments, but nothing that makes it feel special.

Shakespeare himself was a rather bland character. This was one of my major disappointments. He is one of the most popular people in human history, but he could have just been a boy next door. He is an actor – shouldn’t he at least be a bit eccentric? I felt there was a lot more effort put in other characters like Stephen, and it felt just wrong that Shakespeare takes a secondary role in a story like this.

But I could have lived with all these faults. There is just one problem that I could not get around while reading this book: it has one of the biggest plot holes I have ever seen. There is absolutely no reason at all why history would go on a different course. Why is there a problem? What happened that history all of a sudden changes? It’s not that there are different dimensions. No mention of a time traveller that messed up. This whole story is built on absolutely nothing. There were a few explanations that tried to cover up this problem, but nothing satisfactory. The whole time travel is shamelessly under explained. And the worst thing is that main character Miranda doesn’t even question it.

The story itself isn’t that bad. There is a lot of spying around, making assumptions, and romance. Only in my opinion it was with the wrong person. Read with caution.

Miranda has Shakespeare in her blood: she hopes one day to become a Shakespearean actor like her famous parents. At least, she does until her disastrous performance in her school’s staging of The Taming of the Shrew. Humiliated, Miranda skips the opening-night party. All she wants to do is hide.

Fellow cast member, Stephen Langford, has other plans for Miranda. When he steps out of the backstage shadows and asks if she’d like to meet Shakespeare, Miranda thinks he’s a total nutcase. But before she can object, Stephen whisks her back to 16th century England—the world Stephen’s really from. He wants Miranda use her acting talents and modern-day charms on the young Will Shakespeare. Without her help, Stephen claims, the world will lost its greatest playwright.

Miranda isn’t convinced she’s the girl for the job. Why would Shakespeare care about her? And just who is this infuriating time traveler, Stephen Langford? Reluctantly, she agrees to help, knowing that it’s her only chance of getting back to the present and her “real” life. What Miranda doesn’t bargain for is finding true love . . . with no acting required.

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