by Jacquelin Thomas, contemporary (2011)
Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86232-0
Jacquelin Thomas's Case Of Desire wraps up the lawsuit story line that spans the Hopewell General series, but the story is strangely stilted and cold. Reading this story is like watching a neighbor's slide show of his trip - everything feels fragmented and disconnected.
Maxwell Wade is hired by Hopewell General to settle a lawsuit filed by an ex-employee who was fired for substance abuse and stealing drugs from the hospital. This ex-employee happens to be the son of a big beneficiary of the hospital, and things can get really messy as well as embarrassing. Hence in comes Max, a New York attorney who knows his stuff. It is natural that he works alongside Camille Hunter, the PR manager, but things become complicated when they realize that they are becoming far too fond of each other.
Don't be fooled by the synopsis of the back cover into thinking that Max is angling to get Camille into bed. Sure, Max is yet another incredibly gorgeous playboy, but he and Camille spend considerable amount of time trying not to behave unprofessionally. While there is much mental lusting on their part, therefore, there isn't much hanky-panky taking place in real. Now, this is an understandable and even admirable turn of event, considering how these two should be focusing on their work. Things won't be so bad, therefore, if the author has served up a gripping legal drama with simmering sexual tension between the two main characters.
However, the legal drama is pretty much forgotten for the most part of the story, and when it resurfaces late in the story, it is resolved in such a mundane manner that I can only wonder why everyone is making a fuss about that case up to that point. The author instead chooses to pad the story with subplots such as Camille receiving unwanted sexual advances from the chief of staff and Maxwell's ex-girlfriend showing up to embarrass herself by making a fool out of herself for Max. The sexual harassment subplot could have been gripping, but the author lets that one peter out - like she lets everything else in this story, sigh - by having Max taking care of everything and even confronting the villain on Camille's behalf. While I can't fault Max for being gallant, Camille is written as a strong-willed and independent woman, so it's disappointing to see that the guy is the one who does everything here to solve her problems for her. The ex-girlfriend part is so unnecessary because it's not like this story has a shortage of subplots. Worse, Kendra's role in this story is to humiliate herself by acting like a silly hysterical dingbat over a man who doesn't want her any more.
Max is a cardboard character, another Kimani cliché of the tall, handsome, and very rich playboy. Camille however is a pretty good heroine, if only by default, since it's not everyday I come across a heroine who is smart, capable, and emotionally stable. However, this story doesn't do her any justice. The author pushes the most interesting elements of the story - the sexual harassment matter, the lawsuit - aside and treat them like slideshows. This is what happens, this happens next, and then this, this, on with the next subplot. Ms Thomas for some reason focuses the most on Kendra behaving like a cartoon villain here, and that is the least interesting subplot present in this story!
The story on the whole feels very underdeveloped. Subplots come and go without really making any impact, every problem in this story is resolved in a rushed and very anticlimatic manner, and, of course, Max is such a cardboard hero. This book is so passionless and dry that I can only wonder whether the author was forced at gunpoint to write this story. Her heart doesn't seem to be in it at all.
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