Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86361-7
Contemporary Romance, 2014
I always cringe when romance authors decide to write about show business, because the end result is almost always a ridiculous thing that has no bearing whatsoever to real show business. More often than not, the story feels like the screechy ranting of a bitter fat woman who is miserably jealous that the skinny beautiful women always end up sleeping with hot guys, guys whom the fat woman is certain are just waiting for a pure noble woman like this fatty, who’d love those men and make them realize that beauty isn’t skin deep (these fat women always assume that they are beautiful inside, naturally). And it is those skinny bitches who are somehow to blame for keeping those hot men from those virtuous fat cows who would love the hot men like those men deserve.
Seduced by the Playboy even has the obligatory scene where a jealous hag cattily remarks that the heroine can’t hang on to the hero for long, as he usually goes for skinny hoes and the heroine has curves. It plays out exactly like the hypocritical revenge of the fat cows fantasy it sets out to be. How boring.
Demetri Morretti is a playboy baseball player whose reputation is not exactly pristine. When Angela Kelly starts cracking jokes about him in her Athletes Behaving Badly segment of the local TV station’s variety show, he charges to the station to personally scowl and glower at our heroine, telling her that she’s a liar and he’s going to sue her rear end off. I guess our millionaire baseball player just wants to give his personal lawyer some time off to walk the dog or something?
Instead of telling the man to go fly kite, our heroine crumbles and wonders whether she’s going to lose her job and die. Her boss smartly decides to invite Demetri to an interview spot in the upcoming show. Instead of seeing this as an opportunity to boost her sagging ratings, Angela crumbles and wonders whether she’s going to be seduced by that hot jerk and die. She also is being sexually harassed by some bloke at her workplace, and every time it happens, she crumbles and wonders whether she’s going to lose her job and die. Eventually she sleeps with Demetri and he wants a more permanent relationship; she crumples, remembers that she has a huge hang-up about her past sex life, insists that she is no good for any man anymore, and wonders whether he’s going to hate her and cause her to die.
Demetri isn’t the smartest tool in the shed, and the way the author writes this fellow has me wondering whether she has any clue about how actual sports celebrities live and do their thing. These people certainly don’t go around threatening journalists and reporters. TV stations don’t just ask a celebrity personally to do interviews – they have to go through managers, agents, and such too. Worse, apparently all Demetri has to do to hide his identity is to wear “workout clothes” – nobody recognizes him when he’s in them. It’s like Clark Kent, I suppose, only there is an unfortunate implication in how a black man only has to dress in clothes stereotypically associated with gangsters on TV shows and movies, and then all of a sudden everyone sees him as a frightening fellow to step away from. The author could have made some kind of wry joke there to reduce the impact of the implication, maybe even turn it into a satirical look at how people behave and think these days, but she apparently didn’t see the unfortunate implication in having people react to Demetri like that. Oh well.
But Demetri may be dumb, but at least he doesn’t come off as unhinged like our heroine, who completely overshadows him in being an absolute train wreck. First off, Angela is absolutely spineless. Everyone pushes her around, and her sole reaction to every drama, big or small, is to fly off the handle and act like she’s going to die. The only thing she is resolute about is her perceived worthlessness due to various sexual indiscretions in her past – which would be a non-issue to me if she actually wanted those indiscretions to happen instead of being another dumb bunny who ended up getting victimized by her beauty and magnetic honey pot because girlfriend here is just plain stupid all around – which she would then use as an excuse to play the martyr. Of course, instead of actually leaving the man like she claims she should, she just stands there and wails like the drama queen she is.
Angela is also praised for being an incompetent in her job. She has no sense of what works and what doesn’t in her job – see her shocking inability to realize that having a sports celebrity like Demetri on her show is a ratings coup – and she spends all her time acting like she’s too good to be a “mere” gossip segment host. She wants to be a “serious” newscaster, you see! And yet, given that Angela is generally a spineless creature more prone to whining and complaining than taking the initiative to get what she wants, I’m supposed to believe that she would make a good investigative reporter. The author even awards the heroine with her dream job, despite Angela having done nothing to earn it other than to sleep with Demetri.
Which brings me to another thing: much is made about how Angela is different from other women who are all users. However, the author is perfectly fine with having Angela getting promoted after marrying Demetri and then bringing all his successful and filthy rich brothers to her show to boost ratings further. I guess using people is okay if you are sleeping with them – provided you make them put a ring on you first? Or that you marry out of true love? After showing that she has no clue how actual show business works or what is needed to succeed in show business, the author could have at the very least be consistent with her preachy messages about virtuous fat women versus hateful skinny whores, but then again, maybe I shouldn’t be expecting such. This is, after all, a story where the guy’s promiscuity is lauded as a compelling aspect of his “hero” personality, while the heroine’s past sexual experiences are a pivotal part of her character “flaw” and the man’s acceptance of this “flaw” allows her to “heal”. Double standards for everyone, and only the penis can protect you from post-sex guilt, so ladies, grab a penis today.
Seduced by the Playboy is flat out stupid from start to finish, and the heroine being an emotional wreck is just cherry on top. I don’t know how to salvage this one – may as well ax the whole thing altogether.