A Million Kisses in your Lifetime by Monica Murphy

Reviewed by Ian Lipke

Told from dual first-person perspectives (Crew and Wren) this book follows a developing relationship between Lancaster Prep Boarding School eighteen-year-olds Crew Lancaster and Wren Beaumont. Crew Lancaster belongs to a family that owns the school. (I know of no situation where a school is owned by a family – I could think of nothing more grievous). He can misbehave as the spirit moves him. His attitude towards the other students is that of ownership and power, defined as something akin to a manorial lord of medieval days.

Newcomer Wren Beaumont irks Crew Lancaster like never before, causing him to make it his mission to discover everything about the girl whether she wants him to or not. Forced to work together on a psychology assignment, Wren and Crew slowly reach an understanding of one another’s lives, an unravelling that pulls the couple closer together. As expected, a romance involving the couple ensues. Nothing goes smoothly.

A side story develops through the machinations of an evil staff member. Mr Figueroa, who preys upon the female students until, unmasked, he is removed by police.

This is a book written to a recipe. One would have to be insensitive to miss the barely veiled attraction between the lead characters, hidden though it appears to be under dislike and anger. There is no doubt that Wren will succumb to the ‘charm’ of bad-boy Crew. Wren is popular among the student population because of her ‘good works’ but that does not last. A population of girl students, each from wealthy backgrounds, needs something to counter self-interest. Readers are led to believe that Wren is an innocent, naïve to many of the boy/girl nuances and unversed in the pressures of boy-girl relationships where both sexes speak openly of having sex.

The relationship between Crew and Wren begins as testy and acerbic, if we accept that Wren is so gullible as to have no idea why Crew has taken such an immediate dislike to her. The sex scenes, while intimate and passionate, are the reason why the book has come into existence. Once readers realise this fact, then descriptions of elements of the book as: a story of power, control, money, and trust; family and friendships, relationships and love; the character driven premise is edgy and dramatic; the romance is tender and seductive; the characters are animated and intense; Crew is one of those characters with a tough exterior but is a big softy inside; are revealed as malarkey.

Crew Lancaster is not revealed as moody, dark, and quiet. He is not handsome and magnetic and smart. He’s a creep with the morals of a tomcat that is perpetually on heat, as much a predator as sad Mr Figueroa.

A Million Kisses in your Lifetime

(2022)

By Monica Murphy

Penguin Random House

ISBN: 978-1-405-95556-0

$22.99; 384 pp

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