Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86478-2
Contemporary Romance, 2016
A Chase for Christmas is something you have read before if you are familiar with Kimani romances. Oh look, it has a Christmas theme, and the author dutifully trots out the best type of Christmas ornaments – children with cancer – to demonstrate how benevolent our main characters are. But the gist of the romance is the same old blah trotted out like that overnight dish nobody asked for or liked to eat.
Preston Chase is the hottest guy ever, and women all lined up on their backs on the street begging him to shag them because he’s so sexy like that. But he really likes Blythe Venna, his sister’s BFF. She likes him too, but he’s too hot, too rich, too everything, which means he’s the worst candidate ever for a boyfriend. Not that she would then look for plain or ugly, just getting by types of guys on Tinder, of course, but we all know that these romance heroines all talk about wanting simple guys, but there’s no way they are going to walk the walk and settle for the guy they claim they want. No, it’s always the hottest player around that gets their hormones all lined up to sing the hallelujah. And since these two’s families are always doing things together, it won’t be long before the clothes fall off and the author starts padding the pages with rambling, mundane scenes of people talking and milling around doing things that only fictitious characters with no actual jobs to do can spend all their time doing. Oh, and Preston swears off other women, because Blythe is the most awesome thing ever, and all other women are skanks and hos.
Been there, done that, kill the dead horse’s carcass, and buried it in the garden, really. Still, readers who like comfort reads may take to this one better, provided that they can overlook the following.
One, the characters love to go into some detail about things they should already know. Oh, what’s the hero’s plan for the weekend, his sister asks? Why, the hero will then launch into what the event is, what he will do, et cetera, and the sister nods as if this is something that they both haven’t been planning together for some time now. It’s like that for the rest of the story – these characters must all have the memory capacity of a goldfish.
Two, jobs are mostly window dressing to distinguish this couple from similarly depicted, formulaic heroes and heroines. It is most evident with the hero’s job – a video game developer. The deadline is near, and there are some bugs, but that’s okay, aside from fiddling with his notebook for a few minutes now and then, he may as well not have any job at all. He doesn’t behave like a video game developer – he doesn’t even behave like he has to work for a living, period. Furthermore, his new game would be made for PC, phones, tablets, and other what have yous, which would require considerable investment of money to make sure everything looks and runs good in so many devices – and he’s giving it away for free. Yes, free. How is he making money again? Are we sure he’s not actually a romance heroine businesswoman who has caught the flu bug and identifies herself as a trans man? Wait, he has a penis that springs up when he takes off his pants… oh, things can be so confusing in this modern era of 32 genders and counting.
Three, nobody talks like real people here. Again, let’s look at Preston. He’s into gaming, and gamer dudes have their own lingo for everything from girls to their penises. And yet, he talks like he’s on Oprah’s show and she’s swat him hard if he dares to use a word that deviates from her approved script. Hence, he describes his parade of ho bags as “friends with benefits” to Blythe. It’s all so sweet and nice, but which guy speaks like that in everyday conversations? The end result is a story with characters who talk like they have reading aloud from magazine or talk show transcripts. I’m not expected the author to go all Empire on me, but still, these people here resemble walking magazine articles rather than actual people every time they open their mouths.
Four, every other secondary character is obsessed to an unhealthy degree in analyzing the heroine’s every interaction with the hero. Maybe it’s just me, but if I have friends like these, they won’t be my friends for long. The unhealthy obsessive behavior of these characters makes the story even more of an artificial construct with little resemblance to reality.
Anyway, to keep things short, as belaboring bland and dry books for this long is actually not the most enjoyable thing to do, let me just summarize things by saying that A Chase for Christmas like what happens when Candace Shaw has completed a join-the-dots and color-by-numbers “Write your own Kimani romance!” activity book for kiddies. The whole thing feels like a wannabe that tries too hard to be exactly like the rest.