Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86436-2
Contemporary Romance, 2016
Synithia Williams is not a new author, but A New York Kind of Love is her debut title with this publisher. That probably explains the polished narrative and the pretty decent pacing. There are some more experienced authors in the Kimani line that still serve up stories that look like they are transcripts of someone’s dictation while that person is on Ambien. That’s the plus.
One minus is that this one is set in the backdrop of fame and Hollywood, and like most of her peers, the author doesn’t seem too fond of the whole fame thing. At this point in time, it’d be easier to count the number of romance novels that are neutral or positive about fame and Hollywood.
Also, because the hero is a famous hotshot actor, expect plenty of insincere moments when the heroine would go, “Who? Me? Me? But how can he want me because I’m clearly not special! Me? Really? Really me, and not some other me?” in that interminable way that makes me want to beat her with cattle prod until she looks like that oh-not-so-special hind end of a hippopotamus. I can’t stand it when people start bleating self-depreciating nonsense in a way that is clearly angling for me to assure them that, yes, they are really special, so special, now go choke on that asparagus and be quiet.
Faith Logan is a nurse who is also working overtime to care for her parents, to make up for her guilt over not being there enough for them in the past. Her mother having a stroke turned her into a helicopter caregiver of a daughter, and I don’t know how her parents can take it without taking a broom at her each time she comes back home through the door. When Faith wins a special prize – a makeover, followed by a trip to New York in the company of actor Irvin Freeman over the weekend to attend the premiere of his new movie. Faith is like, oh, she can’t go, she’s too busy, she’s not special enough to be seen with a hot guy like Irvin, et cetera. Her best friend, instead of stabbing her with a scalpel, assures her that Faith would have a good time and Faith’s parents assure her that they won’t die from a cardiac arrest the moment she leaves the door. So Faith reluctantly goes, only to be accused by Irvin when they first meet of trying to seduce him. Because she’s too sexy, you see.
The first quarter or so of this story is pretty excruciating due to the characters being forced to go through the whole “You are a slut!” and “Oh no, I’m not a slut like them; I’m special, although you will have to keep assuring me that I am really special so that I will finally believe it at the last page, because I’m really modest; so tell me again about how special I am while I bat my eyelashes and look so surprised!” act. But later on, the hero and the heroine stop going all weird and antagonistic to settle into a decent kind of chemistry. Those moments are the best parts of the story, because the romance feels organic and even sweet. Irvin turns out to be a charmer after all, full of romantic gestures and smooth ways with those love words, as if he’s a walking Marvin Gaye song or something.
Okay, the heroine keeps acting like she’s an amalgamation of Taylor Swift and Jennifer Lawrence acting all shocked and stunned when everyone tells her how special and hot she is. The way she goes on and on, you’d think she’s an orc-sized manatee-lookalike thing, but in truth she’s actually a gorgeous woman surrounded by people who adore her and think she’s the bee’s knees. My reaction to Faith is one giant eye roll after another.
Irvin, of course, wishes that he’d be less famous, et cetera, because in romance novels, it is a sin to be an actor and love every second of it. Still, I have to hand it to the author: I expected her to overload this story with shallow sex-crazed jealous skanks to demonstrate even more how special the heroine is, but she doesn’t do any of that nonsense, thank goodness. Okay, there is one crazy woman, but she’s not treated like a foil to the heroine, so everything is still good.
A New York Kind of Love has a very nice romance, mostly because the hero is a dreamboat of a guy once the author decides to stop making him jump unnaturally through hoops to fit the misogynistic alpha male act that is still the rage these days. The author can get descriptive in just the right amount in her narrative, to give the romance the right ambiance and mood to intensify all the passion just oozing from the pages. Just take note that the heroine’s constant need for validation and reassurance can become artificial and even grating as the story progresses.