Review Request Sign up for Newsletters Tips and ideas Write for us

Follow by Email

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

This Last Kiss by Madeleine Reiss - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

Amazon USA Amazon UK Goodreads

Review by Suze

Rora and Ursula are back in Hastings, the place Rora left behind after many traumatic experiences. Rora's father is dying and even though their relationship deteriorated quickly after the death of Rora's mother when Rora was a lot younger, they even lost contact, Rora wants to say goodbye to him. Ursula was being bullied and Rora wants to keep her daughter away from these horrible experiences, so the journey comes at the right time. Rora tries to protect Ursula, but can she be there for her daughter when Ursula needs her the most?

While Rora is in Hastings she inevitably runs into Carl, the man who used to be the love of her life. Rora fled twelve years ago and left what they had behind. What happened between them and will they be able to reconcile? Meeting Krystof, someone wonderful who moved to Hastings after Rora left, complicates things even more. Rora likes this man and wants to spend time with him, but does she feel enough not to break his heart and how can she keep the past and the present apart? How will Rora deal with all the confusing situations that she can't help but get involved in and was coming back to Hastings really a good idea?

This Last Kiss is a beautiful poignant story. Madeleine Reiss tells Rora's history through significant kisses, which is a fantastic original approach. It's clear from the start that Rora left Hastings in a hurry keeping secrets from the people that stayed behind. Of course there are reasons for this and I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to find out what they were. Rora is a kindhearted, but damaged woman. She's a loving mother who wants to protect her child, but can't always do this. Rora didn't have an easy childhood herself and she knows what it's like to suffer. She has a difficult relationship with her father and it was interesting to see every emotional layer behind it. Madeleine Reiss understands how feelings work, how deep they can go and what their consequences are and that is one of the many things I admire about her writing.

This Last Kiss is a moving story filled with unexpected twists and turns. Madeleine Reiss alternates between the past and the present and she does this in a compelling way that made me anxious to keep reading. I love it when a book surprises me and This Last Kiss managed to do that in plenty of different ways. I often had tears in my eyes while reading this novel. It's sad, but hopeful and it's heartbreaking, but healing at the same time. I absolutely loved this fantastic story about true love, complex relationships, grief, second chances and family.


If you love beautiful emotional stories about life, love and second chances This Last Kiss is an absolute must-read.

About Madeleine Reiss

Madeleine Reiss was born in Athens. She worked for some years in an agency for street performers and comedians and then as a journalist and publicist. She has two sons and lives in Cambridge with her husband and her younger son.




1) Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

I live in Cambridge and I am the mother of two sons, both of whom have left home now. I became a grandmother for the first time this year and although the idea took a bit of getting used to, I have been surprised by the love I feel for my grandson. You think you only have a certain amount of love to give, but I’ve discovered it can stretch forever. My first husband died of a brain tumour when he was only 30 and the experience changed me even though I was fortunate enough to meet and fall in love with another man with whom I had my second son.

2) What inspired you to write about the amazing topic of kisses?

It’s always difficult to say where ideas for books come from, but I thought it would be interesting to try and chart the progress of a love story by focusing each chapter on a significant kiss. It gave the book a structure, which was helpful since I am not a natural plotter! The first spark for ‘This Last Kiss’ came when I saw a boy on the pier in Hastings when I was visiting the town and something about him captured my imagination. He seemed intact yet vulnerable in some way and I began to imagine his story.

3) You write about bullying in a beautiful empathetic way, how do you prepare to write scenes as difficult as that and how do you find the exact right emotion behind them?

I am pleased that you think these parts of the book worked. I am always cautious about writing about issues that people may be experiencing themselves since I would hate to get it wrong. I wasn’t bullied as a child but we all have times in our lives when we feel alone and unsure of ourselves. I was born in Athens and lived there as a child and so I have always felt a bit of an outsider and that helped to get me into Ursula’s head a little. Children can be cruel to each other and childhood is fraught with fear and bewilderment and I hope I managed to capture that feeling.

4) Can you describe the main characters of This Last Kiss in six words each?

Oooh that’s hard….

Carl, my hero is damaged, tough, brave, handsome, guilty and loyal.

Rora, the main protagonist is uncommunicative, reflective, stubborn, loving, imaginative and acerbic.

Ursula, Rora’s daughter is feisty, individualistic, precocious, impulsive, hopeful and clever.

Krystof, the other corner of the love triangle is funny, adventurous, tender, awkward, creative and optimistic.

5) You also work at a brain injury charity, can you tell a bit more about it?

I need to do another job since writing novels is not the most lucrative of professions unless you are one of a select few, which sadly I am not! In any case I think it is a good idea if writers do other sorts of work alongside their writing. It gives them the chance to remain connected to the outside, ‘real’ world and hear conversations and meet different sorts of people. Being alone at your desk all the time can drive you a little mad. My work at Headway Cambridgeshire continually serves to remind me just how fortunate I am. I need reminding of this regularly since I am something of a moaner! Brain injuries can happen to anyone - a fall, a car accident or a stroke all can result in life changing disabilities. I am inspired all the time by the way our clients face their considerable challenges and find ways of moving forward despite their changed circumstances.

6) How did your writing journey start?

Although I was always scribbling things as a child, I came to writing novels late. I wrote for magazines and newspapers for many years but I was fifty when I published my first novel. I come from a family of writers- my late father was the Booker prize-winning novelist Barry Unsworth and both my sisters write too. It was inevitable that I would get sucked in, although I resisted it for a long time!

7) Where do you write and do you have a routine?

I have a lovely old desk that used to belong to a sea captain. It is my only really antique item of furniture. It has lots of little drawers and cubbyholes and is littered with pebbles and photographs and notebooks that I buy compulsively. I write three days a week and try to be at my messy desk by 9.00, although there are many, many days when I get distracted by other jobs or the lure of the latest episode of a series I am watching on Netflix. I aim for 2000 words a day and always re-read what I have written the day before and make changes. Sometimes I delete every word!

8) What do you like to do when you aren’t writing or working for the charity?

I watch the aforementioned box sets on Netflix. I read a lot. You can’t really write without reading because other peoples’ work teaches you so much. There are writers that I will never be as good as, but perhaps something of the way they put words together creeps into my head. I love the sea and the countryside and a walk always sooths and comforts me. Recently I have been spending some time with my grandson and re-learning the art of putting on nappies and driving a pram. It is amazing how quickly you forget even the basics. I enjoy spending time with friends and family around a big table with lots of wine and good food. There is nothing better than being with people you love.

9) How was it to write a winning story?

My first novel ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’ came about in such a strange way. I was just about to turn fifty and was feeling a little glum about the way my life was speeding past and my mother suggested that I enter The Alan Titchmarsh writing contest that was being advertised on TV at the time. She said all I had to do was write three chapters. I said no for ages, but in the end she wore me down and I cobbled together the necessary chapters from some notes I had written years before. I posted my entry and forgot all about it and was amazed when I was asked on to the show for the semi final and then the final. I was in a complete daze as gold, plastic rain fell all around me and I was told I had won a publishing deal. My feeling of triumph didn’t last very long because I realised I had to write the rest of the book!

10) What are your plans for the future?

My third novel ‘Before We Say Goodbye’ is coming out on the 22nd February 2018 and I hope a few people are kind enough to read it. I am currently writing my fourth novel, which is in its very early, first draft stage and feels a bit daunting. As to the rest of what is to come, I will just try to enjoy as much of it as possible (without moaning) and hope that there are always people around me with whom I can share both the good times and the bad.


Amazon USA Amazon UK Goodreads

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will win signed paperback copies of Someone to Watch Over Me and This Last Kiss by Madeleine Reiss.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. I love emotional stories about life, love and second chances. This Last Kiss sounds like a must-read.

  2. Books about lost and found love are so fun. A myyserious event in the past makes it intriguing too.

  3. Madeleine writes amazing books, I have no doubt this one will be amazing too!

  4. Who's your favorite childhood hero?

  5. I do love a book that engages the mind and makes me think xx

  6. Sounds like an absolutely awesome novel! <3

  7. These sound like great books and I love both the covers.

  8. I have never tried her books but I have seen them around and they sound good

  9. I love the blurbs of your books. I am so excited to read them.

  10. Enjoyed reading your interview, Madeleine. I love the fact that you use an old desk that once belonged to a sea captain. Oh, the stories that must inspire!!!

  11. How cool that your desk used to belong to a sea captain.

  12. A moving storyline painful lives of the characters.