The Judas Kiss by Sally Wentworth is a legendary Harlequin Presents. It’s a twisted tale of revenge, deceit, lies, and passion sure to thrill readers.
Illustrator: Will Davies
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #480
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Buy on: Amazon, AbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader
TOTAL SPOILER ALERT ⚠
Sally Wentworth’s The Judas Kiss has to rank in my top ten Harlequin Presents because it’s just so epic on so many levels. Nothing is as exhilarating and satisfying as a cray-cray-crazy old-school romance that fires on all cylinders and is filled with riveting twists and turns, deception and revenge. This has a heroine with a vicious will of steel and a hero who turns from kind to cruel to kind–in the end.
At 188 pages, The Judas Kiss is a little book that packs a wallop. It spans over four years and takes the heroine from a sweet, happy-go-lucky girl deeply in love to a hardened ex-criminal who gets plastic surgery to seek vengeance on the man who wronged her—the very man she once loved.
It’s like a Spanish telenovela, La Dama de Rosas, starring Jeanette Rodriquez and Carlos Mata! Boy, that takes me back!
Lynette and Beric
Lynette Maxwell is a young British stewardess who meets and falls in love with Beric Dane, a handsome pilot with no baggage. At only 19, Lyn is gaga for Beric, who is young for a hero of this Harley era–he’s only 29.
She’s a virgin and wants to take their relationship to the next level. Beric demurs, claiming to respect and love her too much to take her so casually. Lyn’s the kind of girl a man waits to marry before bedding her, and Lyn, in her haze of love, agrees.
On a return flight to the UK, she gets hauled in for questioning because a container of white powder was found in her bag inside her teddy bear. She is imprisoned, desperately afraid, and wonders how this could have happened.
She accuses Beric of planting the drugs on her after she realizes he was the one person who had access to her purse since they deplaned.
In response, Beric informs the police that she is making up stories to implicate him and abandons her. Lyn is convicted of the crime and goes to prison for three years. Lyn’s parents want nothing to do with her, and her great-aunt is the only person on the outside to support her.
Lynette’s Revenge, Part One
Prison turns Lyn from a sweet, trusting person to a woman embittered by deceit who lives only for vengeance. Fortunately, prison is just the place to meet hardened criminals who know a thing or two about revenge.
When Lyn gets out of the slammer, her face is reconstructed via the finest plastic surgery. She changes her hairline, chin, and nose, and her eyes are pulled further apart. Then she dyes her hair blonde. Viola! Lyn is now Nettie Lewis.
She tracks down Beric in Singapore and gets a job there teaching kids. She stays at the hotel where Beric and his flight crew stay for layovers and then starts to cozy up to some of the stewardesses, who introduce her to Beric. Beric is intrigued by her and pursues her with vigor. She rejects his advances, which spurs his further. He wants “Nettie” with a furious passion.
Lynette’s Revenge, Part Two
Lyn’s plans change when she realizes how deeply he falls for her. She decides that instead of planting drugs on him–which could potentially put her in danger– it would be better to make him fall in love with her and destroy him in another way.
She repeatedly shoots him down until she worries she may have overplayed her hand. But Beric comes back with a wedding proposal. Unlike before, when Beric wanted to wait until marriage to have sex with Lyn, now Beric wants to smash hard with Nettie. But our cool girl Lyn plays him like Georgia Johhny bowed his fiddle in a contest against the Devil.
They get married surrounded by his warm family, who are delighted that, at last, Beric has found happiness.
Lyn’s complicated plan began before the wedding when she flew out to their honeymoon destination with a tour group to set the trap. Then she took a flight back to get married.
On their honeymoon, Lyn leaves some clues making it seem she’s come to a mysterious, bloody end. She plants a bracelet in the hotel and messes up their room to look like it has been ransacked. Then she slips back with her previous tour group and wears a brunette wig. She watches from the fringes as Beric’s world crumbles around him.
Finally, she hightails it back to England to resume her life as Lyn. She even lets her natural hair color grow out.
Many months later, Lyn is now a slight attendant again. Although she has to fly regularly, Lyn is always careful not to book with Beric’s airline.
However, she gets recognized by one of his crew and comes face to face with Beric again. Beric pretends he doesn’t recognize her, but we know he does.
Now, it’s his turn for payback. He stalks her and pretty much kidnaps her when he gets her alone in a cottage. The gig is up! This is not the kind and gentle Beric she had known nor the eager fiance dazzled by new love.
This Beric is enraged, betrayed, and wants answers. And he wants that honeymoon night she never gave him.
Lyn is truly frightened–at first. But in the end, defiance reigns in her heart. Beric is no victim but the evildoer who put her in prison.
Beric realizes Lyn is genuinely innocent and sincerely believes he set her up. It was her outrage at this injustice that propelled her to seek revenge. His love for her makes him see the errors of his ways, and Beric vows to find who set her up.
With a little bit of sleuthing, they soon discover the true culprit. They find that she is living in her own personal hell as life has not gone well.
Lyn decides the guilty party has been punished already by Karma. She has had her fill of revenge and is not pleased with herself, knowing how she hurt Beric in her hunt for his blood.
But Beric–who is really a wonderful hero–forgives her. This enables Lyn to let the past anger and hurt fade away.
She and Beric turn to one another, and their Harley hell becomes heaven.
Final Analysis of The Judas Kiss
The Judas Kiss is freaking fantastic! This book deserves to be remembered in the annals of Romancelandia’s hall of fame. It has such an audacious plot, with a heroine who is cruel and single-minded in her pursuit of vengeance,
Beric is fantastic. He’s a really decent guy who’s shattered by Lyn’s actions. In his hurt, he is also cruel, seeking retaliation for Lyn’s treachery. But ultimately, his decency compels him to go in a different direction.
Oh, this was such fun! What a shame The Judas Kiss is not available in e-book format. If Dorren Hornsblow’s (Sally Wentworth’s real name) family controls the rights to this, hopefully, they’ll correct that error one day.
If you’ve never read this, what whacktastic excitement you’ve missed out on! Go on, search your favorite UBS, and get this one. Even if you hate it, The Judas Kiss can’t fail to thrill!
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The man she’d loved had ruined her life
“I didn’t do it!” Lyn had protested, horrified, when accused of drug smuggling. But no one–customs officials or jury–had believed her. And then she discovered that her pilot boyfriend, Beric, had deliberately set her up! Her blind, trusting love rapidly turned to hate.
After three years in prison, she was determined to be revenged on Beric. So she worked out a complicated plan to get back into his life without his knowing who she was. And it worked.
But not quite in the way that Lyn had intended…The Judas Kiss by Sally Wentworth