Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86290-0
Contemporary Romance, 2013
It’s nice to see an author tackle something a little different now and then, and Passion by the Book is about a married couple trying to make things work once the honeymoon is over. However, the author couldn’t have chosen a worse approach for this story.
Marcus and Simone Young have been married for five years, but Simone feels that the magic is gone. She is left to raise the kids on her own most of the time while the husband is away expanding his fitness empire. The issues are quite typical of that of married couples who are left to figure out what to do with one another after the happy dust has settled. She feels that he’s neglecting her and the kids, and she is doing more work in this marriage than he is. Why is he hanging out with his friends when his family needs him at home? He begs to differ, as he’s hard at work to make sure that the money keeps coming in and the family is taken care of, and if he spends some time with his friends, he damn well deserves to. She wants some loving moments, he’s tired or he has to answer that call. And on and on they go. The title refers to a seduction guide that Simone decides to purchase and learn from, but things never go as planned, of course.
At first, the story isn’t bad. The characters seem normal, their issues are something I’m sure many married folks can relate to, and I don’t want to see anyone dead. The problem begins at about the late third, when Marcus begins to do everything to prove that Simone isn’t being melodramatic when she believes that he’s taking her for granted too much. In fact, he’s quite the asshole. If I were Simone, I’d just spend his money and get myself a toyboy to amuse myself, because that guy is not a catch. I can understand him telling things to his buddies, things that the wife don’t appreciate, because that’s what guys do. But by that late point, Simone has done everything she can to make things work, while he just acts like some entitled dude who gets miffed when the wife doesn’t seem to be doing everything in her power to make sure that his routine isn’t disturbed. The last thing I want to read is him pulling that stupid Suspicious Asshole Husband stunt. Marcus’s reaction to every conflict is to either clam up stubbornly or avoid the wife by working instead of coming home.
The problem here is the author spends two-thirds of the story having Simone do all she can to make things work, and the last third by having Marcus behave like a fool so that Simone has to keep working some more on their relationship. If the author had the hero behave like this dumb a mule from the start, she may have more opportunities to make the story more believable. But Marcus at the start seems like a reasonable and often misunderstood hero. Therefore, by the time story ends, the happy ending doesn’t feel believable. These two, I feel, need some time more to work out the issues between them, and by the last page, I don’t feel that Marcus is worth the effort to turn around.
Passion by the Book ends up having too many issues and not enough satisfactory resolution to these issues.