Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86417-1
Contemporary Romance, 2015
In real life, yes, everyone does stupid things sometimes, often without solid reason. When it comes to fiction, however, I’d like to have some structure. When the characters do stupid things, I’d like to know why. Stupid people deserve love too, but it’d make it easier for me to shower some love if I can understand even a little as to where that stupidity comes from. In the case of Canton Wilde – good lord, the names of the heroes these days – no, I don’t care if he has a six pack and a fifty-inch penis. Beauty fades, dumb is forever.
Seven years ago, Canton and Naomi McBride had some sexy times, but then she upped and fled the Wyoming small town of Landers to become a pediatrician. Well, now she’s back, because her parents screwed up the finances of their ranch so bad that Naomi has to return to… kill the IRS officer with kiddie cough syrup or something, I suppose. Anyway, she decides to appeal to Tiber Wilde for help, but Tiber is currently away on business and the temporary guy in charge is, yes, you guessed it, Cantonese Fried Dumb Schmuck. Naturally, he insists that she would be his “escort” to all the social functions in town if she wants the favor of the Wildes. No “escort”, no sugar.
Here’s the thing: Canton knows that his family holds the tax lien of the McBride ranch. Naomi doesn’t know that, and he won’t tell her. Why? Because he wants to make sure that he has a “hold” over her, so that she wouldn’t leave town again and leave him hanging like the last time. He wants something more permanent with her. So, instead of wining and dining her, he wants her to play the whore for him. Mind you, the Wildes are supposed to be wild boys, having penetrated what seems like 80% of all the women in the United States of America. In Canton’s case, I can only imagine that his success rate must be due to clumsy blackmails and a club in the head.
I’m sure you can guess by now the rest of the story. The timing of Naomi’s discovery of who owns the tax lien to her family home, her reaction, and more – these are all exactly like they are in every other story in which the hero is hiding something from the heroine. The whole thing is as predictable as can be, and in the case of this story, doubly painful.
It’s painful because the author is aware of how dumb Canton is being. She has Canton feeling guilty now and then, only for Canton to stubbornly charges ahead anyway. Secondary characters occasionally tell Canton that he’s doing everything wrong. Still he decides to go ahead anyway. Why? Is he desperate? Up against the wall? Are there chips implanted in his testicles that would explode if he doesn’t get to pin Naomi down in bed within a certain period of time? No, Canton has no reason to rush, or even to lie to Naomi. Hell, he’d probably get her to put out faster if he plays the noble good guy who swoops in and saves her family from financial ruination. But, no, he has to go ahead and be a Harlequin Presents case of walking dumb, and I don’t know why.
I’m also not sure why Naomi is so high-strung in this story. She was so afraid that her feelings for Canton would make her give up her dreams and be a homely baby-popping machine that she left town to study and, apparently, stayed away out of fear of seeing him again. Now she feels guilty because she believes that if she had come home often, her parents wouldn’t be in bankrupt land today. Given that her parents don’t seem to be the type to listen to her, I can only conclude that Naomi is just feeling guilty because it’s another excuse to act like a headless chicken flapping her wings, her favorite mood of all time.
There is the added bonus of a completely unnecessary jab at women who get their looks done at the start of the book. Because while only beautiful people are worthy of love, such beauty must be handed to them via the genetic lottery. Losers of the lottery who dare to better their appearances? Sluts. Oh please, the joke is on the hero and the heroine. He’s a failure as a pimp, and she can’t get that whore act right even when she wants to be one to save the family. Leave these things to the real professionals, please.
At the end of the day, the hero is just being an idiot because he can. The author knows that he is dumb, so basically, she has written a dumb story and cheerfully tells me that she knows it is dumb. Is that supposed to make things better? The characters here do things with little insight provided into why they are being two silly drama queens, making this story the perfect definition of a book in which the author is going through the motions and ticking off the laundry list of things required by the formula. To Claim a Wilde is not only a predictable bore of a read, it’s one for no good reason. Worse, the author knows it, and she wants me to know that she knows. That’s like having salt rubbed on my wound.