The Secret Kiss of Darkness by Christina Courtenay

The Secret Kiss of Darkness by Christina Courtenay
Publisher: Choc Lit Limited
Genre: Historical, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (317 pages)
Heat Level: sweet
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Must forbidden love end in heartbreak?

Kayla Sinclair knows she’s in big trouble when she almost bankrupts herself to buy a life-size portrait of a mysterious eighteenth century man at an auction.

Jago Kerswell, inn-keeper and smuggler, knows there is danger in those stolen moments with Lady Eliza Marcombe, but he’ll take any risk to be with her.

Over two centuries separate Kayla and Jago, but when Kayla’s jealous fiancé presents her with an ultimatum, and Jago and Eliza’s affair is tragically discovered, their lives become inextricably linked thanks to a gypsy’s spell. Kayla finds herself on a quest that could heal the past, but what she cannot foresee is the danger in her own future.

Will Kayla find heartache or happiness?

Kayla is happy in her job, about to be married to her boss and loved by her family. What more did she need? Life changed when her Aunt leaves her a legacy and Kayla buys a painting. Her fiancé is not amused and their engagement ends. Even more frightening, the man in the painting begins to talk to her.

Jago, the smuggler, and Lady Eliza fall in love but the lady is married to Jago’s half brother, the lord of the manor. After the birth of her son, Eliza dies but Jago vows to join her in eternity. During their affair they are painted individually by Thomas Gainsborough and yes, this is the painting Kayla buys. The portrait of Jago.

The one time smuggler asks Kayla to find the painting of Eliza so the lovers may be together. She can’t resist the temptation and with Jago giving her clues she follows the trail to the old manor house. Here she meets Wes and his daughter Nell, descendants of Eliza.

I loved this book. At first I thought it would be another time travel or love across the ages, but the neat seams between the past and the present, the story of Jago and Eliza entwined with Kayla’s life in the present – all this kept me reading avidly from beginning to end.

I have to admit I originally started reading this book because I like Choc Lit books, but in future I will also look out for more books by Christina Courtenay. She has the ability to draw me into the story and keep me there, eagerly awaiting the next chapter and following the lives of people many years apart. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Loved it.


  1. I love this book! It has everything a good romance novel should have. Plus the added enticement of a time slip. A real page-turner. Fabulous!

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