Jan 31 2012 4:00pm

Fresh Meat: Jillian Stone’s An Affair with Mr. Kennedy (Jan. 31, 2012)

An Affair with Mr. Kennedy by Jillian StoneJillian Stone
An Affair with Mr. Kennedy
Pocket, $7.99, Jan. 31, 2012

London, 1887. Part stoic gentleman, part fearless Yard man, Zeno “Zak” Kennedy is an enigma of the first order. For years, the memory of a deadly bombing at King’s Cross has haunted the brilliant Scotland Yard detective. His investigation has zeroed in on a ring of aristocratic rebels whose bloody campaign for Irish revolution is terrorizing the city. When he discovers one of the treacherous lords is acquainted with his free-spirited new tenant, Cassandra St. Cloud, his inquiry pulls him unexpectedly close to the heart of the conspiracy and into the arms of a most intriguing lady.

And Cassie is no Victorian prude. An Impressionist painter with very modern ideas about life and love, she is eager for a romantic escapade that is daring and discreet. She sets her sights on her dour but handsome landlord, but after she learns their meeting was not purely accidental, she hardly has a chance to forgive her lover before their passionate affair catapults them both into a perilous adventure.

In 2010, Jillian Stone’s Victorian-set romantic suspense won the Golden Heart, the Romance Writers of America’s award for unpublished authors. That book then sold and is Stone’s debut, An Affair with Mr. Kennedy.

The hero, Zeno “Zak” Kennedy, seems like a disheveled Robert Downey, Jr. playing Sherlock Holmes. Zeno is a detective with the Special Irish Branch of Scotland Yard, exuding intelligence, determination, and sensuality that is overt, but not in your face. His mission is to prevent the Fenians, an organization dedicated to the establishment of an independent Irish Republic, from committing terrorist attacks against the British government.

Unwavering in his need to solve the deadly bombing at King’s Cross station in London, he encounters his perfect match in his new tenant, the feisty and bold Cassie, as far from a traditional Victorian woman as you can imagine.

“There are condoms in the dresser,” she blurted out.

Sliding out the top drawer, he removed a tin of rubber goods. “You do encourage the most lascivious behavior in me.” Zeno tilted his head. “Do you find my lovemaking in any way disturbing, Cassie? Because if you do – ”

“I don’t.” She bit her lip. “I suppose that makes me a terrible wanton, doesn’t it?”

“It makes you the most desirable young lady I have ever encountered.”

She stepped into his arms and gave him a kiss. “Since my naked bottom was exposed this afternoon, it is your turn, Zak, to remove every stitch of clothing.” She leaned against the bedpost. “And I shall watch.”

With a break in the case, and the knowledge that Cassie knows Zeno’s prime suspect, the pair are bound together in a thrilling chase to a most satisfying end. Cassie is more than equal to the the seductive Zeno, and their affair is one to watch and savor.

This setting allows the author to write a feisty heroine who is truly unconstrained by society, a woman who is as compelling as the delicious Zeno.


A.J. Wilson, Shark By Day, Lover Of All Things Plaid By Night – ajwilsononline.net

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Charli Mac
1. CharliMac
This has to be one of the most delicious heroes I have ever. Ever. read. Zeno Zak Kennedy is 100% Ha cha cha! I couldn't be happier for Jill's debut novel. Kudos chica!
2. Lafka
I've never read any Jillian Stone's book, and I really doubt I will read this one. I'm always eager to discover new authors I've never read, especially if they write historicals (the spicier, the better), but here the names of the hero and the heroine were enough to dampen my spirits. Zeno and Cassie? Really? In a victorian-set story? Humpf. I won't even linger on the fact that having an affair for an unmarried woman seems quite bold given the historical background, even for an artist with "very modern ideas".
Given that I'm not particulary into romantic suspense stories, I think this book is not made for me _ though I believe you CharliMac when you say Zeno is delicious, the cover is really appealing in deed.
3. KateNagy
Wouldn't a Victorian of any stripe call them "French letters?" Or am I totally making this up? "Condoms" seems like a distinctly modern usage to me, but on the other hand I have to assume that the author has done her homework and knows what she's talking about. But on the OTHER hand: "Zak." So I'm already not completely buying this as a historical, although Zak and Cassie seem like a fun couple and I'll admit I'm intrigued to see the English-Irish conflicts presented as sympathetic to English side, since this seems unusual to me in a modern novel. So this seems like a solid "maybe" for me.
Charli Mac
4. CharliMac
@Lafka No, you wouldn't have read any of her books. Like I said in my comment, this is her debut novel. There are many Fresh Meat novels on this site that I will never read as well. But, for me, I choose not to comment on them.

Why you ask? Well for the simple fact that the world is full of books, all kinds of books for readers with varying tastes and interests. Authors have a hard enough job getting their work out to the masses, snarky comments from people who would never read their work makes it harder. I found your comment to be in poor taste and reminiscent of the mean girl in the back of the classroom.

You say you won't linger on why you won't read it but then go on to linger at length. You say you like historicals, the spicier the better you say exactly, but then go on a diatribe about how an umarried woman having an affair seems quite bold for you. Um, you did read the word Affair in the title of the novel, no? Shouldn't be a shocker to read that there may be an actual affair in the story. Just sayin'.

And you really find an affair unbelievable? Do you know anything of real human history? Geesh, would you have have been with the crowd stoning Mary Magdeline? Would you have lit the match that burned Joan of Arc at the stake? Bold women are the reason we get to read such lovely, the spicier the better, tales. Think about that, research if you'd like. Also, if you think no victorian woman, married or unmarried, ever had an affair then I have a bridge in London to sell you.

You're not into romantic suspense and you obvioulsy take issue with women having affairs. Why bother to comment here at all then if you know you will never read it? It's not for you. Great. Move on. Why be so negative to a debut author who is so passionate about her characters and the world she created for them? Here is some reading you may like based on your comments. It really bothers me that many romance readers love a rake who formerly boned an entire continent but a woman being, of all things, sexual, is heresy! Really?

BTW, I am glad you were not S.E. Hinton's editor. If you were I certainly would never have had the pleasure of reading about Ponyboy and Sodapop Curtis. And was spelling out your Humph really all that necessary?

@KateNagy Like I said above, I do not read historicals but swtiching wording around, french letters/condoms, isn't a big deal to me. The story rocks. And being a lassie of Irish descent the switch on the Irish/English troubles is so refreshing! So, please don't let the name "Zak" or the use of the word condom stop you from reading this. I think Zak is a hot name, btw. I googled the name Zeno and it's real and has historical significance. The nickname Zak is cool, different, and I like it. I mean how many Edwards can we really read about.

So, for any other readers out there who like sexy heroes, bold courageous women, hysterical dialogue, intrigue, action, suspense, and of course romance, then An Affair With Mr. Kennedy is just for you. I do NOT read historicals and I LOVED every second of this amazing tale. Think Sherlock Holmes meets No Strings Attached.

5. Lafka
I didn't mean to offend you by commenting on this article, CharliMac. I think when a novel is presented, it's not totally off the subject to say whether you're considering reading it or not, and why. If you're considering not reading it, exchanging about your point of view with other readers or soon-to-be-readers may give you the chance to change your mind and get over your negative prejudice. My observations weren't made to depreciate this particular book or author, nor to censor potential readers (your comment on me not being S.E. Hinton's editor is quite unfair, given that I'm aware my tastes are not the same as another reader's one, and I think there is far enough room in the publishing world for all kind of different stories).

Concerning Jillian Stone's previous or not books, as I said, I didn't know this author, so my apologies if I had thought she could have written anything else (though her website mentions some Phaeton Black book serie, so I assume she has...).

Of course, I'm aware that readers have different tastes and expectations. That's why, when coming on H&H website, I usually skip the articles about books that I'm at first sight convinced are not for me (Sci-Fi books for instance). Here though, the cover led me to think it could interest me because it was historical on the one hand, steamy on the other hand. Reading the summary made me understand that it probably wasn't for me, but I don't think that deprives me of the right to express myself, does it?

As to the content of my comment itself, it wasn't meant to be "snarky". Again, I'm just expressing my point of view and there's nothing I would like better than to be contradicted by people who have read this book and thought it was worth-reading.

Reading the summary of the book, my immediate thought was that the book seemed to lack historical accuracy _ because of the names first (generally a good indicator), because of the casuality with which the protagonists seem to deal with their affair, in the extract. Historical inaccuracy, as an avid historical romances reader, is an element that bothers me and that matters in my choice of books. If you've read the book, and tell me that it is more accurate than what I've thought, fine. If you think historical accuracy is indeed lacking but doesn't prevent the reader from enjoying the trip, fine. If you tell me that I shouldn't point that out, I'm not going with it.

And, yes, I expected indeed, given the title, the book to deal with an affair, which, one way or another, was scandalous in the 19th century for unmarried people. I'm not throwing the stone and that doesn't reflect in the slightest my personal convictions on the topic. I'm just saying that it implies from the author a particular way of putting it for such relationships not to be "misfitted" in the context. I've read books that dealt with this situation but managed to make it somehow credible. I wasn't given this impression with this particular book _ but there again I haven't read it, only its summary, so I would be delighted to hear that my first impression was false and the "affair" turned out to be quite realistic.

Again, if you tell me I'm wrong, given that you've read the book and I haven't, I'm glad to hear so. But, as a reader, that's the kind of elements I'm attentive to. Thus, yes I think this book doesn't seem to be the kind I will like, and I say so, hoping I will be somehow contradicted because as I said in my original post, I really like to discover new authors. And given that I don't know of Ms. Jillian Stone, I have no idea what kind of readers she wants to target with her books. If she wants to win audience between the ranks of historical romances readers, perhaps it's not off subject for me to point out what striked me at first. It's my opinion, it's worth what it's worth, but I really don't think I deserve personal attacks for expressing it.

And again, if any reader here has read this book and can tell me that 1. the book is not totally misplaced in its historical background, and 2. the action part doesn't encroach much on the romance part, I shall reconsider my initial prejudice and read the book.
6. KateNagy
I'm sure that the book has plenty to recommend it -- as I said before, I find the rather unique perspective wrt the English/Irish thing intriguing. But as Lafka notes, anachronism in a historical can be fatal. (Doesn't have to be, if the writing is good enough, but there isn't really enough here for me to judge this.) A sex scene is the last place I should be wondering about word choice -- even if totes EVERYONE called it a condom in those days, it just sounds odd, you know?

And we've had several threads about names here lately, and "Zak" is not a nineteenth-century detective/landlord. I have no quibble with "Zeno" -- it's a classical name and certainly possible for a man of a certain class in those days. But Zak? Zak is currently seventeen. He's a miserable and rebellious senior at Congressional Prep in Virginia. He skateboards around his cul-de-sac and plays drums in a band called Zombie Indigestion. His mother, who addresses him as "Zachary," wishes he would a) cut his hair and b) get on those college applications already. That's Zak.

Also, in the book, is Zak actually Irish? The description makes him read like an English gentleman, but "Kennedy" is just about the most Irish name there is. That would be a really interesting twist, if it were the case.

I do want to give this book a fair shake, now that I've dumped on it for historical inaccuracy, so I will make a point of checking out the preview on my e-reader and buying the book if it catches my fancy. Thank you to Lafka, Charli-Mac, and A.J. Wilson for drawing me into a very interesting discussion!
Charli Mac
7. CharliMac
@Lafka I like nothing more than a good healthy debate but when comments are completely off the mark, I tend to call people on it.

There is a difference between history accuracy and fictional historical accuracy. Yes, affairs for women then were social suicide. Does that mean they didn't happen? Come on. Human nature is human nature, regardless of the time period. I do not need to be well read in historical fiction to know that. I have a very, I mean very hard time believing that readers actually believe it to be unlikely for a widowed woman to have an affair in Victorian England? This is the same culture that encouraged women to go to a Doctor to be cured for hysteria. The cure, a dildo machine. Would women advertise their affairs? Hells no but did it mean they didn't happen? Come on... Kudos to the author who writes a truly historically accurate female protagonist! People have been sleeping around for a very very very long time.

Now, you take issue with the suspense part. Well, Pocket is marketing this as Historical but Jill won the GH for Romantic Suspense. AJ made that abundantly clear in her review. It is a historical, romantic suspense.

The names bit. Did you know that Jane Austen's sister's name was Cassandra? Is it soooo hard to believe that people had nicknames in Victorian England? I mean, they couldn't have literally been that stuffy and rigid. They'd never have procreated if that were the case. Like I said, Zeno is a real name with real history from 400 BC to the present. And yes, if you think Cassie and Zeno is so outrageous then its not a far stretch for me to believe that you'd disapprove of Sodapop and Ponyboy. They are completely unconventional names for the period and S.E. admits that in the novel. But it makes for great, different, colorful characters!

@KateNagy Ok, so the literal name Zak probably doesn't appear on any formal piece of 19th Century English documents. But is it that unbelievable for someone to have a nickname? It's normal to give people shortened quirky names and its gone on for centuries... I mean to limit Zak as a skateboarding HS kid is like saying the name Edward could never be used for a modern teen vampire, just historical rakes or rogues. BTW, as far as historical accuracy goes, there were many, many, many children of both Irish and English descent, throughout history.

The condom bit I get if they weren't called that, but names... that's just too picky for my taste.
Charli Mac
8. CharliMac
Ladies, I truly don't mean to offend or make anyone feel personally attacked. I hope to open some eyes actually.

Take, for instance, The Age Of Innocence. Ahh... love that movie (sorry didn't read the book). For me, the beauty in that tale was all about the constraint. A single touch of hand meant so much. Sigh. For those characters, it fit.

But there are also characters who are daring, like Jill Stone's. A woman who enjoys her sexuality and will not let society dictate how she uses it. Just because how she behaves was not the norm or public doesn't mean women like Cassie didn't exist. Why read about boring stuffy gals with full proper names when I can read about a woman like Cassie?

These women did exist but history paints a very different picture. I think that if we, as readers, put these social constraints on our authors we are just as repressed as the society who put such restraints on women in the first place.

Anyone see this movie? It pokes fun at the sexual repression of the time. Love it!

Maybe I haven't read more historicals because I feel women are too repressed and inaccurately portrayed. We need more authors like Stone, imho.
9. Lafka
Of course, there's a difference between historical accuracy and fiction. But if a fiction is set in a particular historical background, it has to be coherent with it. That's my opinion, because it bothers me when I read a book where some details (or the entire plot, but that's an entirely different story) don't fit in. Even when it's only details, if it distracts you while you're reading, it can kill the mood. If you're not that picky _ and I'm sure there are plenty readers who don't mind that much _ I'm fine with it, but I don't think me being demanding when it comes to respecting historical background is that much of an off the mark observation.

As to having affair, of course people did have affair, all along History. But let's face it, if an unmarried woman (I'm talking here of a never maried woman, widows are an entirely different matter) had an affair back in Victorian times, she was labelled a lost woman and outcasted of society circles. Again, I've not read this book, I don't know what is the social background of Cassie, I don't know how she interracts with her surroundings or whatever. But the casuality with which the affair in announced here makes me think that it's a bit weird in a Victorian-set story. It could be otherwise, for example if Cassie is evolving on the fringe of society or in different circles than the usual ones (given the story takes place in 1887, one could imagine for example that she only frequents suffragettes or suffragists, and could thusly be better accepted by her circle than she would have been in "good" society). I've not read the book, I don't know how the author deals with the affair, perhaps it is well introduced in the novel, but it striked me while reading the plot summary.
I'm not against strong-willed feminine characters _ quite on the contrary _ I'm just saying that such characters require a very particular way of writing them down for a reader like me to subscribe to their story without wincing every now and then about just how completely impossible it is. I'm not saying Jillian Stone doesn't master the exercise, and again (yes yes, I'm repeating myself a lot here) if someone reads the book and tells me that Cassie's character is not out of place in the historical context, because the book is well written, because the social background justifies her special features, then I may just go with it. Until then, it doesn't make me want to read the book, sorry.

About names, of course people had nicknames in Victorian England. But I really doubt they just went by it out of their family circle.
And yes, Zeno is a real name, though I didn't know it was that common in England (I actually thought it was a rather antic first name, which didn't last long after the end of Antiquity ) _ my bad. The fact remains that both Zeno Zak and Cassie names striked me, and I'm afraid I will just raise an eyebrow at it whenever I read it.
Again, I know some readers are not bothered at all by characters names, or don't mind an unusual name when it fits with the character's personnality. I do in historical novels and pointed that out. I already said that much in the recent article dealing with characters names, so it really wasn't an out-of-the-blue snarky comment.

As regards to the suspense part, it's personnally not my cup of tea. Yes AJ made it very clear in her review that the book was romantic suspense, which raised my remark in the first place because I'm usually not very keen on suspense stories. I don't take issue with it, it's just that it's the kind of plots that usually drive me off a book, unless I'm told the suspense part is not that important when compared to the romance aspect. Obviously here, action and suspense is an important point, and thus a reason for me not to read the book. Is that so unconcievable?

Oh yes, I have to admit that I'm quite intrigued by the English-Irish conflict part too. I wonder how the author deals with it _ because it doesn't simply imply history, it has real echoes in a not-so-far past.
For example, when I read a book set during Napoleon Wars, I don't mind if the author is prejudiced one side or the other (English books tend to present Nap' as some evil, little machivelic man _ French books more like a vastly clever man with great ambition for his country, though some personal issues too), because it isn't part of modern history anyhow. But given that English-Irish conflicts are not that solved even today, I wonder what point of view the author will convey of the events.
Charli Mac
10. CharliMac
@Lafka No, it's not inconceivable for you not to read a book that is a genre outside your taste. But then why comment on it for a post promoting a debut author? I find that mean spirited. This author obviously has little chance to win you over so why bother with the negative comments? I believe in the exhcange of ideas and why we don't like this or do like this or that, but your initial comments, imho, were harsh and unecessary.

Again, I know full well how unacceptable it is for a woman to have an affair in the 19th century. But you haven't read this review carefully enough. At all. Cassie is looking for a DISCREET affair. It's all there in black and white.

And yes, despite the post on here about character names I still think discounting a novel based on names is being picky. The blurb from the book addressed her by her formal name, Cassandra St. Cloud. The reviewer refers to her as Cassie because we as readers get close to characters. And that is the sign of a great story. The characters in the excerpt refer to each other with nicknmaes because of their intimacy which I think is endearing. So, your objections to the use of their names doesn't hold with me. For me, you haven't read the review close enough.
Megan Frampton
11. MFrampton
@CharliMac: We welcome people commenting on our posts, both negatively and positively, if there is constructive criticism to be offered. In Lafka and Kate's case, their comments are constructive, even if you don't agree with them. We want all comments to be as civil as theirs; perhaps you are too close to the subject for a measured discussion?

@Lafka: Thanks for responding to engaging in the thread, and continuing to offer your opinion. We value your involvement here.
A.J. Wilson
12. AJWilson
Alas, to awake to such a lively debate!

@Lafka - I've read a lot of "if I read the book", simple, read the book. Until then, reserve judgement. If you don't think you will read it, from one writer/reader to another, don't bash what little you know of this debut author. Its a tough market. If you read the book, you will know that Cassie is neither unwed, nor married when she has her 'affair'. You will also further understand her circumtance as well as the society in which she has said affair. As for nitpicking at names, I am well read in all types of historical, and I must tell you, often an author chooses a name that isin't exactly within the context of the time period. Does it throw me off? Not if the story is a good one. As to the sexual freedom of a woman having an affair, anyone who reads Regency knows the 'ton' thrive on this sort of titilating gossip, whether proved or not. Kings, queens, nobles, and peasants alike have been doing the like for as long as time has been recorded. Its a fact of life. As Charli Mac said, why is a woman having an affair, addmittedly, one you know nothing of, because you've not read the tale, such a scandalous thing? THIS IS FICTION, and thus, the author can take liberties with her prose.

@KateNagy - Frechletters ... I am taking liberties in saying that perhaps, because I'm almost certain I recall Ms Stone using the phrase at some point whether in earlier versions or this one, that perhaps the editors/publishers thought it acceptable to use the phrase seeing as the average romance reader may have never heard the term Frenchletters?

@CharliMac - You've stated your opinion no better than I could, and I agree 100% with your arguments, but what can I say? I love Jillian Stone's work!
Candice Burnett
13. SleepyVamp
@CharliMac : Really? You've never dissed a book simply because of the character names? I don't do it often, but sometimes, yes, I admit that I do. For example, if i pick up an erotic romance where the hero has the same first name as my father or one of my brothers. Sorry. It might be a great author. It might be in a series I have read and well liked. Can't do it. I will generally read anything, but I draw the line there.
Megan Frampton
14. MFrampton
@SleepyVamp, we had a post on that name thing: http://www.heroesandheartbreakers.com/blogs/2012/01/say-my-name-more-reading-dealbreakers
but I think if you are not loving the story, almost anything can ruin the reading experience, even if you can forgive it in a story that better suits your taste. Names, anachronisms, etc., all end up as dealbreakers if you're not invested in the first place (in my opinion).
15. Jillian Stone
WOW!!! Names and condoms spark controversy!

Zeno Kennedy is quite the unusual name, but Cassandra is certainly not jarring for the late Victorian period. If you gave the book a chance, I promise you the naming issues are explained!

There may be tonal issues that are not quite getting across, as my debut novel is late Victorian with Steampunk elements. In that context, the name Zeno now makes a bit more sense, yes? If you think of the Gentlemen of Scotland Yard more like a Victorian version of James Bond, the trope/topos (?) becomes more recognizable.

I had a discussion about this very aspect of the books with my editor the other day. She calls them edgy Victorian, and we both agree that as more books release this aspect of the stories and characters will become better understood.

According to OED: Condom (first use 1706). I also use French letter, sheath and rubber goods which are all of the period.

As for Charli Mac, what can I say? She's got my back! Muah!
16. Jillian Stone
And for anyone worried about how the Irish problem of the period is presented, let me assure you that Detective Kennedy is sympathetic to Irish Home Rule. Zak (Zeno) is not so forgiving, however, of the radicalized dynamiters.

Historical factoid: William Melville, head of Special Irish Branch Scotland Yard, was Irish himself.
Marian DeVol
17. ladyengineer
@Jillian, thank you for making most of the comments about your work I was about to....

From A. J. Wilson's description, I did not immediately pick up the Steampunk elements of the tale. Haven't gotten into Steampunk much to date, but am starting to be intrigued, so may read more.

I AM an engineer, after all (4th generation, 2nd gen. EE, 1st woman in the line). It could be interesting to read tales where the late 19th century was populated with a higher density of T.A. Edisons than was historically the case. ;->

To me, it is totally believable that a widow of the Suffragette era could be rebellious of many of polite society's conventions.

@Lafka & @KateNagy - Mary Balogh, one of my favorite historical romance authors, explores many sides of the love affair/mistress issue, and not all of her heroines in such situations are widows. A prime example is her More Than a Mistress. You may want to lighten up.
18. Lafka
Alright, if so many people recommand it I shall read it _ not because the story interests me, nor the characters, but because the historical background might be interesting (with all the reservations i've already stated) and because obviously Jillian Stone is the kind of author to raise passions ;-) Oh, and because I'm such an hopelessly curious person, I really have to know the why and abouts so many reactions!

Just to answer CharliMac when she says "this author obviously has little chance to win you over so why bother with the negative comments?", I've never said such a thing. This book as little chance to win me over, but again I know absolutely nothing about the author, and not being attracted to one book doesn't mean the ones to come won't interest me. For example, I said earlier that I had visited Jillian Stone's website, and seen that another book was about to be published called "The Seducton of Phaeton Black" _ and the summary caught my eye when this one didn't (I'm generally less demanding when reading paranormal novels, and accept much more liberties to the era the story is set-in or the names of places/characters for example).

So, even if you may disagree with me, I'm not particularly attracted to "An Affair with Mr Kennedy" and didn't intend to read it for reasons that are related to the way I like to read a book _ perhaps I read too fast the summary, perhaps I'm too stuborn and picky, but there again, chosing a book is a very personal matter, it really depends on your perception of it, and if my past attempts are any indications, I've great difficulties to overcome a first "not interested" impression. My remarks weren't made to depreciate an author's work, and certainly not to deter anyone from reading her book. Good grief, it's not as if I had any influence on her perspective career or whatever! I said myself that I hadn't read the book and pointed out what elements made me not want to read it. Period. Any further interpretation of my remarks would be misjudging me.

Now though, back to my point, one of the interests of stating out the reasons why you're not inclined to read that or that book is to have the opportunity, through exchanges of opinion with other readers (or in this case the author herself), to change your mind. I do not withdraw my initial reservations but you people have raised my curiosity enough to have me read the book.

I won't respond to the rest of the remarks made, I think we could discuss the issue at length and never reach an agreement here because we simply view things too differently. I regret though that one cannot express one's reservations and opinions without sparking off hue and cry.

@Jillian Stone, I wish you good luck and all good things for your debuting career as a writer! :)
19. KateNagy
@Ladyengineer, for the record, if you scan back over my comments you'll note that I never, not once, objected to the love affair/mistress angle to this novel. I also -- again, just for the record -- never meant to imply that the Victorians didn't do nicknames or that the English and the Irish never mixed and mingled. My own family has plenty of examples of both of these things. I don't need to be schooled.

As for "Zak," I'm still not feeling it, but we'll all have to agree to disagree on this one. Reductive and tight-assed and unimaginative of me? I plead guilty as charged on all counts. Am I interrogating the text from the wrong perspective? Undoubtedly. What can I say? I'm "picky" ("discriminating" is the term I prefer) about names, and a twentieth-century nickname on a nineteenth-century hero pulls me out of the story faster than just about anything else can. I will admit that the steampunk angle -- which was not explored in the review -- may change my opinion a bit -- AFTER I read the thing.

Is it wrong to respond to aspects of the book, as described in a review, that appear to be unusual to me? I don't think so. We all have deal-breakers -- as has been discussed more than once on this site -- and for me part of the fun of participating in a community is learning what other people's dealbreakers are. "Zak" may turn me off; "Phury" and "Vishous" may have you throwing the book across the room in a fit of "Rhage"; the loving description of the hero's meaty ten-incher may cause someone else to exclaim "What the actual --" and slam the book shut, never to open it again. Vive la difference and all that.

In short: I am unfamiliar with this author. Aspects of the book appear extremely promising to me. My anticipation is tempered by other aspects, as described in the review, that may -- may -- adversely affect my enjoyment of the reading experience. I will probably at least try to read it, and I am prepared to be pleasantly surprised.

Can we all join hands and sing a chorus or two of "Kumbaya" now?
20. Brenna Aubrey
@Charlimac "It really bothers me that many romance readers love a rake who formerly boned an entire continent but a woman being, of all things, sexual, is heresy! Really?"

Thanks for the LOL! and WORD. I totally agree with this statement. So many readers are so hard on romance heroines. Much harder than on the heroes. The heroes can get away with practically everything up to and including murder but the heroine is not allowed one mistep! Says a lot about the feminist perception.

Okay, anyone interested in winning this book, I'm giving a copy away to a lucky commenter on my blog by Friday at midnight. Here's the link: http://brennaaubrey.net/2012/01/31/between-the-lines-with-jillian-stone/
21. KathyB
I just finished this early this morning. One of the things I liked were the names especially Zeno. Different strokes. lol.

"Zak" was an acronym for his initials, and even though the nickname didn't bother me as much as it obviously did others, I preferred "Zeno" because of its uniqueness. Historical inaccuracies generally don't bother me if the story is good enough, and, for me, this story was a page turner. I am sure when I look back at this year's reading, An Affair With Mr. Kennedy will be one of the best this year.
22. Karen Cote
Jillian, congratulations on all your accomplishments! I so loved the comment here about you bringing out passion even in those who haven't read your work.

Hi CharliMac, loved your opening:

This has to be one of the most delicious heroes I have ever. Ever. read. Zeno Zak Kennedy is 100% Ha cha cha! I couldn't be happier for Jill's debut novel. Kudos chica!

*chuckle* You are adorable!

Jillian, your book sounds fabulous and winning the Golden Heart??? Awww, then the cherry...publication. You must be on cloud nine.

Congratulations again!
23. LibbyF
Wow, this was more than I expected to find in the comments section! Anyhoo.... Just want to say I seriously enjoyed this book. Just finished reading for the 3rd or 4th time. Zak, Cassie, condom, frenchletters.... whatever. I spend my days reading the serious stuff and my free time reading the good stuff - and this qualified as the good stuff for me. Thanks Jillian for a fun time. Oh, yeah, and super great cover. One of my all time favorites.
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