Review: Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle

24 June, 2012 Reviews 19 comments

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela MingleKissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle
Series: Standalone
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on August 14th 2012
Pages: 352
Genres: Historical Romance, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

A romantic time travel story that's ideal for fans of novels by Meg Cabot and Donna Jo Napoli--and, of course, Shakespeare.

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 to 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.

I jumped at the thought of this ARC.  A girl time traveling back to seduce Shakespeare?  That’s awesome!  Shakespeare!  *Swoon*

I had full on Joseph Fiennes from Shakespeare in Love flashbacks because, of course, I was 12 when the movie came out.  Of course, as an adult I know a lot more about who Shakespeare seemed to be like from what documents we have.

But still, I thought, how fascinating?  How is this going to go down? But this emphasis on Stephen Langford in the synopsis? After all, the book is called Kissing Shakespeare.  So… she’ll just be kissing Shakespeare, right?!

There will be people who will enjoy this book, undoubtedly.  But before you buy this book, allow me to give you this spoiler in case it’s important.  Shakespeare is nothing more than a shadow of a character in this book.

Miranda, teenage actress from Massachusetts, gets physically abducted by Stephen and dragged back to Elizabethan England for the express purpose of having to seduce Shakespeare so that he doesn’t turn to the Priesthood.  So the romance, up until I read, seemed to be between Stephen and Miranda… the man who forcibly abducted a terrified girl, took her to a place where she’d be friendless and alone, and threatened her unless she seduces his friend.

Please allow me a moment to react.

No!  NOOOOO!  NOOOOOO!  Why?!  WHY!? Why does our male protagonist have to be someone who abducted her and is literally forcing her into a form of prostitution because he thinks it doesn’t matter since women in the future are all sluts anyway.  WHY!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

If that were the only problem with the novel, I MAY have been able to shudder and at least finished the novel.  Maybe.

Unfortunately, his other reasons for abducting this one particular girl are that she is: a) an actress, b) very familiar with Shakespeare’s works and world and c) supposed to be able to pull this stupid, stupid, ridiculously dumb scheme off.

The first problem is that if she is an actress then I am Imelda Marcos – and since I can’t seem to find my impressive collection of designer shoes (I looked) then this first part is rubbish.  All three of these foundations have a basis in her supposed intellect which was unfortunately out for dinner throughout any of the book I read.  For someone whose main asset was being steeped in Shakespearean plays and culture – she just plain SUCKED.  She was mindless.  She couldn’t even CURTSY! I know she was supposed to be an audience surrogate, but there’s a balance that needs to be maintained.  That balance repeatedly had its feelings hurt and it eventually left to find someone who would treat it properly.

Then we get to the writing which was just juvenile, which matched the plot and the characters so at least I can’t say it was inconsistent.

One of the worst things about reviewing a book is to be careful not to mix up what you wanted and expected with the actual story.  Sometimes that’s just impossible to do.  But I don’t think it’s unrealistic to expect a book titled Kissing Shakespeare about a girl supposed to be seducing Shakespeare would actually… be about Shakespeare.

And I guess it’s not unfair to expect that one of the most brilliant playwrights of all time would be a little more complex and interesting.  Look, I know he wrote to make money and he wrote populist material for the time but his beautiful, beautiful prose!  His sonnets!  It is technically possible that he could have just been a dumb, shallow useless seventeen year old.  But c’mon!

It is also entirely possible that he was a complicated, thoughtful and insightful human being.

And if we take a quick poll of people to ask about which Shakespeare they’d rather read about, I’m pretty sure I know which option would come out on top.  I certainly know which one I would have rather have read.




Kat Kennedy

Kat Kennedy

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
Kat Kennedy is a book reviewer and aspiring author in the Young Adult genre. She reviews critically but humorously and get super excited about great books. Find her on GoodReads.
Kat Kennedy

19 Responses to “Review: Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle”

  1. Lexxie

    That is disappointing – I think that even the title sounds a little like Shakespeare in Love… he just had to be kissed before he fell in love.

    And I am sick and tired of female protagonists who somehow are unable to take care of themselves; even more so of the guys who take advantage of them. Good thing there are so many other books to read, eh?
    Lexxie recently posted…The Next Best Thing – Jennifer WeinerMy Profile

    • Kat Kennedy

      @Lexxie: So agree. A heroine’s ability to at least think and try to fend for herself is a big part of me enjoying a story.

  2. Mari - Escape In A Book

    I’m so sorry to hear that this book was such a let down. Is it just me or is the pretty cover on closer inspection featuring sexy lingerie and the title is written on a garter? Not that these items = prostitution but since you mentioned it in your review, Kat, it was kind of hard not to think about it and put 2+2 together. Ugh..yes to sexy lingerie no to time traveling prostitution.
    Mari – Escape In A Book recently posted…Introducing SylkeMy Profile

  3. babemuffin

    Awww, sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy this book…

    The first thing that popped in my mind when I read the blurb was… why would you kidnap someone who performed disastrously? It didn’t feel ‘right’ from the first bat
    babemuffin recently posted…Review: A Discovery of WitchesMy Profile

  4. Kara @ Great Imaginations

    I certainly will NOT be reading this one. Thank you for saving me from the effort of trying this out. I read this out loud to my husband while driving in the car to Florida. We both had a good laugh and very much agreed with your statements. Especially the book title. If Shakespeare is hardly in the book, then that title is incredibly misleading. Meh. Not a fan of the themes either. And what is UP with that cover? It’s really unattractive.
    Kara @ Great Imaginations recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #6My Profile

  5. AnimeJune

    Yikes. This sounds awful. I mean the title sounds fluffy and harmless but the reality seems to be way too ridiculous. And she’s supposed to fall in love with Stephen? What? I had to read a similar book called TUMBLING THROUGH TIME where a gypsy sends the heroine back in time FOR NO REASON. It’s never explained. Oh, and the girl’s body back in modern times is then possessed by a placeholder that tries to have sex with a bunch of people without the heroine’s consent.

    I think I’m pretty much done with time travel.
    AnimeJune recently posted…The Weekly Wanting (10)My Profile

    • Kat Kennedy

      @AnimeJune: I just can’t fathom how someone who could travel through time and space would choose THIS girl – out of ALL the girls? No. It made no sense.

  6. Lexie B.

    Though all signs point to him being the love interest, I pray to G-d the hint of romance you saw was just a fluke. Abducting someone, and, as you said, essentially forcing them into a form of prostitution? NOT ROMANTIC. Not in the slightest. That’s disgusting and I continue to be horrified by what authors consider to be a swoon-worthy love interest.

    Also, as you pointed out . . . if a book is titled Kissing -Person-, it would typically be assumed that the person is actually, you know, part of the romance.
    Lexie B. recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (21)My Profile

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