Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86413-3
Contemporary Romance, 2015
Heat of Passion is the third book in the California Desert Dreams series, but it can stand alone. My personal opinion is that the entire series is the pits anyway, so one may as well give the whole thing a miss, but hey, don’t let me tell you what to read, heh. Anyway, this book. Pamela Yaye has a very nice narrative voice, so it’s always a shame that her stories often have plots and characters that are simply the pits. Heat of Passion is no different.
Robyn Anderson is the head event planner of the elite Belleza Resort, but she is in a rather tenuous position because she is being pursued by Sean Parker. Sean is the estranged brother of Robyn’s boss, and Sean is not in good terms with his family because he believes that they cheated him out of his rightful place as the boss of Belleza. Worse, Sean is the prime suspect in a series of “accidents” plaguing Belleza, and the cops in charge believe that he is guilty. Being seen in his company may not be the wisest thing to do if Robyn cares about her job and her friendship with her boss. Sean is determined, however.
This one has some fine comedy and chemistry, but the whole relationship eventually feels too wrong for me to enjoy the story.
Let’s start with Robyn. Never mind the wisdom of being seen cavorting with the enemy of one’s employer, as I suppose it is only human to be overwhelmed by the true and pure feelings one develops for a man at eighth grade. Robyn has very little evidence to believe that Sean is innocent, however, but she soon happily trusts him and even lies on his behalf. Why? I have no idea. The poor darling comes off as a gullible creature easily controlled by whoever that gets her all frenzied up in lust.
Sean is a control freak. He loves Robyn because she trusts him, she is loyal to him, and he knows that she will never betray him. No, really, those are the reasons he gives late in the story. You may notice that it’s all about her giving him this and that, but there is never any mention of what he is giving her back. Indeed, he doesn’t care about her feelings. He’s a prime suspect and he’s putting her in a very difficult position by pursuing her – who cares, she’s better off with him anyway, so he insists that she is seen publicly with him during the launch of his new restaurant! If she gets fired, she can work with him, so what’s the problem? He makes decisions for her without consulting her, plots their future together to resemble a scene of him at the throne and she at his feet, and more – and despite her lip service protests, she lets him.
As a result, Heat of Passion is an unfortunately accurate title for this story in that the man holds all the strings and the heroine is basically his puppet and sex doll in every way that matters. This is a romance in which I do not see any mutual respect, just the hero acting all high-handed and know-it-all as he takes everything but rarely gives anything back in this relationship, and the heroine who lets this be because she’s too weak to say no to his carrot. And Sean ends up being in the right, with everyone else apologizing to him, ugh.
Also, the usual unfortunate implications apply to female-female relationships, especially when a man is involved. A memorable moment is Sean telling Robyn that he broke up with his last squeeze because she wanted them to get married, and Robyn actually thinks highly of Sean for that, because she feels that Sean is “being true” to himself. Of course, at the same time, she is desperately hoping to do the doggy with him happily ever after. Robyn thinks of every woman that has ever pawed Sean in a negative light. Even her relationships with her so-called best friends don’t feel sincere – a lot of them, they are asking intrusive questions as if everything is a competition to see who is sleeping with the best man. Put all these elements together with Sean’s “big daddy knows best, now be quiet and come sit on my lap” attitude, and I get a pretty disquieting read at the end of the day.
Heat of Passion can set the blood on fire, but for all the wrong reasons.