by Celeste O Norfleet, contemporary (2011)
Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86221-4
Before I begin, I am going to have to warn you guys that there will be some spoilers present in this review. They are necessary if I want to explain why the story doesn't fully work for me, so you know what to do if you don't want to be spoiled. Although, honestly, this story has so many familiar and predictable elements that these spoilers can very well be considered textbook descriptions of overused tropes.
Three years ago, journalist Tatiana Coles and recording studio boss Spencer Cage were tight, until she wrote a bestselling biography on his friend Mason, exposing some sordid details about the man's life. Spencer blamed Tatiana for Mason's eventual suicide and they broke up. When the story opens, they meet again when they both take a vacation to Martha's Vineyard, and it isn't long before they are back in the groove again. Ah, but what Tatiana doesn't know is that Mason had left his shares in Spencer's company to her, and Spencer is determined to charm and shag his way into getting those shares, by hook or by crook. What do you think will happen when she discovers his scheme?
In a way, the author has set up a pretty good premise here: the hero blames the heroine for choosing her job over their relationship, but eventually, he finds himself in a similar situation. Let's just say that Spencer is not so smug and judgmental anymore by the last page, heh. However, I'm puzzled as to why Tatiana is allowed to choose her job over her relationship with Spencer three years ago, but when Spencer is in a same situation - saving his company from being taken over versus preserving his relationship with Tatiana - he's supposed to choose Tatiana. I'm glad the author doesn't have Tatiana apologizing for having a career and being good at it, but there is a clear double standard evident here in the presentation of Tatiana's case versus Spencer's.
Tatiana is a pretty decent heroine, but she has some very evident blind spots where Spencer is concerned, as she blithely ignores some red flags that would give any other woman pause when it comes to rekindling her relationship with Spencer. She knows that he holds a grudge, and yet, all of a sudden she's trusting him with everything? That's pretty unrealistic for a supposedly smart woman, but I guess we can argue that sometimes love makes a fool out of even the smartest person.
Spencer has no such excuse. There is something very unsavory about his character. He has a big "bros before hos" complex - he cuts off Tatiana the moment he feels that he can no longer trust her, but he still keep in close contact an unpleasant male friend whom he knows to drug or slip a pill to a woman in order to take advantage of her. He can't trust this friend, he knows this friend is a complete asshole, but he retains his friendship with this man while Tatiana is spat as far as he could throw her the moment she slips up and "betrays" him. He is also very stupid. Tatiana hasn't lied about Mason, but somehow Spencer is unaware of Mason's awful habits such as his drug taking and more. Spencer comes off as a pretty dim-witted twit with issues when it comes to the opposite sex. Still, it is nice of him to be unable to go through with his plan to betray Tatiana.
This brings me to another point: I know Spencer doesn't go through with his plan, but Tatiana doesn't. As far as she is concerned, Spencer's plan fails because Spencer's asshole friend warns her about it. Therefore, when she takes him back so easily, without even making him suffer a bit, it makes her look pretty weak. Yes, she loves him, but come on, he's planning to make a big fool out of her in a plan that can actually damage her career irreparably. By forgiving him so easily and taking him back, she looks like a sucker.
Additionally, I am not too pleased with the author using secondary characters to push Tatiana back to Spencer. These so-called loving sisters of hers know the history between Spencer and Tatiana, and yet, they will tell her that Tatiana loves Spencer, so she must be with him. I suppose they will still push her to get back with Spencer if he turns out to be an insane ax-murderer. Love, you know, is so beautiful that it overrides all reason and common sense. I also roll up my eyes when the author has Spencer's good friend revealing to him that Tatiana is 100% correct when it comes to Mason very late in the story. Apparently this friend had sworn to Mason that he wouldn't tell anyone, but yet, when the story is coming to an end, it is convenient for him to blab everything to Spencer. And it doesn't make sense how Mason wanted to make things right with Tatiana by leaving her his shares in Spencer's company... and he didn't tell her about those shares when they supposedly had a heart-to-heart talk shortly before he died. If Mason wanted to spite Spencer, then yes, his move makes sense. But he wanted to make things right, so no, not telling Tatiana about those shares makes no sense.
The chemistry between Tatiana and Spencer is actually pretty good, which is why I'm giving this book a pretty generous score for all its flaws. It's really too bad that the revenge plot itself isn't as well done as the romantic chemistry.
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