by Harmony Evans, contemporary (2013)
Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86330-3
Derek Lansing, our hero, is a professional basketball player who is having an off season. His manager is, understandably, concerned, so our heroine Natalie Kenyon is roped into the scene. She is a very successful life coach who comes highly recommended by her A-list clientele. He's too manly to take her brand of soft touch seriously, but it won't be long before he succumbs to her TLC. He has family issues, she has some too, so can they find their inner smile in time for the happy ending?
That's basically it for the synopsis of Stealing Kisses. There is nothing out of the ordinary here - everything you will get is written out there on the box, so to speak. Not that this is a bad thing, of course, as the author does a pretty good job in selling me the romance. The characters communicate like sensible people, and they have some decent chemistry.
I'm not sold on the heroine being this successful life coach, though. Natalie second guesses herself so often and she also lacks this cool and confident demeanor that she would have needed to be as good as she is. Derek holds the strings in this relationship - she is far too concerned about how he would react to her decisions and behavior to function like a life coach would. Given that Natalie is supposed to be the most awesome person for the job, this is a pretty big issue. Unfortunately, Harmony Evans isn't the first author to cut her own story at the knees by bragging that her main characters are this fantastic only to fall short of delivering, and she won't be last.
The family issues in this story are also resolved in such unbelievable ease - there is nothing a big hug can't fix, apparently - that the stench of the Care Bears is strong in this one.
On the bright side, this story is more sexually explicit than a typical Kimani story. In addition to the usual missionary position, we also have oral fun, people! It's all good, although I scratch my head at some of the author's euphemisms. Calling the hero's pee-pee "long core of skin", for example, has me wondering what that is supposed to be. Perhaps the author is referring to the hero's foreskin? Given that he's American, he's not likely to have any. Or is that phrase a way of telling me that it is shaped like an apple core?
Stealing Kisses has a serviceable romance, and the characters have some pleasant chemistry between them. But something feels off here, at the end of the day. The author solves her characters' problems too easily, and the heroine coming off as not what she is written to be makes the premise that feels artificial from the beginning. In the end, this is an okay read that could have been put together better.
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