by Melanie Schuster, contemporary (2013)
Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86327-3
Let Me Hold You is the second book in Melanie Schuster's Friends & Lovers series, following Poetry Man. This one can stand alone, although do be mindful of the presence of a considerable number of secondary characters with pre-existing relationships. It does have one thing in common with Poetry Man: it is about a man not being just a woman's best friend but also the adoring hunk that tirelessly polishes her pedestal so that it is all shiny. Unlike the previous story, this one doesn't seem corny at all. Nice.
Alana Sharp Dumond has been a widow for five years. Yes, she isn't dating, but that's because - in a nice change from the usual "my late husband is a faithful abusive jerk who treated me like garbage; now seeking sexual healing, please boink me ASAP" widow-gone-emo thing - she's not looking. She doesn't think that she could replace her late husband, so she thinks she will be content to live life around, surrounded by friends and family members. It's enough.
Or maybe not, as a kiss with Roland Casey on her sister's wedding day suggests. Roland has always wanted to know her better - as he puts it, she's on his "to do list", snicker - but she has always kept him at arm's length. That kiss promises plenty of intriguing possibilities, so how long would it be before these two hook up?
On paper, this book sounds pretty boring, and, yes, the story doesn't have explosions, chases, or other forms of dramatic excitement. But this only means the entire story is devoted to the TLC, and it's nice. Melanie Schuster has a way of making the Kimani formula work, almost as if it's such a simple thing.
Her main characters generate ample chemistry and their romance feels real in many ways. The development of the relationship is well-paced, and the cheerleading secondary characters do their thing without coming off too much as a means of the author to insert herself in the story to yell at me that these two people must be in love. Also, in many ways, Alana and Roland are typical characters of the Kimani line, but their emotions seem genuine. Also, the author makes everything fun because she shows and tells in a well-balanced manner, making the story flow like the main characters falling in love is the most natural thing in this world.
It is very easy, therefore, for me to have a pleasant time reading this story from start to finish. It's predictable, yes, but it's offers a good kind of predictability, as there is something enjoyable and even reassuring about the way this story still works so well despite its adhering to the formula. Let Me Hold You doesn't generate fireworks, but it delivers enough emotional resonance to make me a satisfied reader.
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