Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86480-5
Contemporary Romance, 2016
The first time our heroine Lanelle Murphy meets our hero Dante Sanderson, they are fighting over the last piece of chocolate cake in the hospital cafeteria. She has had a bad day, but he wants the cake for his niece, who has leukemia, so it is only reasonable that she lets him have it. Along the way, he decides that he has to meet her more often, while she likes that she’d die if any man comes within a foot of her ever again.
Meanwhile, the hospital wing she helps to raise funds for is in trouble, and she is certain that the funds have been misappropriated, but she’d look into this – on her own, naturally, so you and I both know she’s certainly going to screw things up. And she does, how wonderful. And he is the wealthy owner of the construction firm which is involved in the work, and he has harsh words to say about the use of cheap materials in the whole thing. He blames the camera-shy person in charge of the whole thing, which he pegs to be some spoiled wealthy socialite who thinks that sitting behind a cozy desk and signing some checks now and then makes her a philanthropist. How delighted would be he when he learns that that socialite and the woman he wants to boink so badly are one and the same?
A Perfect Caress starts out great. An unusual meeting place for a Kimani romance – not a wedding of BFFs, a resort in some Caribbean island, etc – and the author’s voice seems sassy and vibrant enough to get me hooked. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long before these characters start to appear more alien than human.
Dante’s sins are lesser, so let’s start with him. He has an ex who cheated on him, and that ho bag was from the upper class, so now all upper class women are hos in his eyes. Even those he hasn’t met personally, even those whose parents seem alright – no exceptions. All of them are whores, whores, whores! So, imagine what he’d do when he realizes who and what Lanelle is. Although, to be fair, by that time Lanelle has been such a screwed-up moron that his accusations aren’t wrong, mind you. But still, he’s the one who keeps pursuing her, so it’s such a douchebag move on his part to act like he’s been led on in some way.
But oh, Lanelle. Where do I start? Okay, she’s rhesus negative. Her ex dumped her because she could never bear him a healthy child. Never mind that a rhesus-negative mother bearing a rhesus-positive baby is not usually problematic during the first pregnancy – she acts like she’d kill her baby right away if she even tries to have one. What, anti-D injections do not exist in that world this story is set in? Instead, Lanelle acts like there is absolutely nothing that she can do unless she finds a rhesus negative hubby.
And when Dante points out reasonably – this is before he discovers Lanelle’s big secret, of course – that they can adopt, have a surrogate mother bear the child, etc, she then shifts the goal post and acts like her not popping out a brat through her womb would somehow make her a “lesser” woman in Dante’s eyes. Good god, what does this woman want? She just wants to play the victim, it’s so annoying to try to keep up with her.
Wait, there’s more. She’s an heiress, so she knows that all men cannot be trusted as they’d only want her money, not her honey pot. Therefore, she can’t have a man unless the man is so wealthy that he doesn’t want any more money. As if there is ever such a man, snort.
If you have been following Lanelle, that means she wants someone richer than Bill Gates and the Sultan of Brunei combined, who is also rhesus negative. And it goes without saying, romance heroines will never settle for anyone who has a beer belly, losing his hair, or does not look like a Hollywood leading man. Any lesser man sets her off to act like she’d rather have fire ants poured into her honey pot… until she meets Dante, and then she has to keep whining that she can’t fight this desire to rip off her clothes and scream at him to take her right away, so she must drive him away for her own good. This lady is as fun to follow as rolling on a pile of pine cones.
And then, she’s clearly out of her leagues playing the modern, independent woman when she’s flailing left and right, and the best part of this story is how, in the end, she has to suck up and call her family to clean up her mess. I don’t know what the author is trying to do here. She tries to build the heroine up to be someone smart, only to have Lanelle collapse and embarrass herself like this. Is A Perfect Caress a subversive story about how women are not born to think or make decisions, so it’s best to just let the big strong men do all of that?
It is also adorable how Lanelle keeps insisting that she has to make Dante leave her so that she will never break his heart by never being able to pop out babies through her womb. (She can, seriously… the author could have at least spent a few minutes on WebMD or Mayo Clinic if she wants to spend as little time as possible on pesky things called research.) What, she can’t dump him on her own? Of course, when she gets her wish and Dante dumps her, does she cheer and throw a party? No. She now wails that she can’t do anything more until Dante takes her back. Oh, this supposedly independent and intelligent woman can’t try to get him back if she wants him so badly? Lanelle is such a passive, useless dumb cow that sabotages her life and then needs the men around her to pick up her mess – a total embarrassment for romance heroines everywhere.
I know, this is the author’s first published book with Kimani, so I should be kind. Well, I am kind – I’m tossing in an extra oogie as a pity welcome gift. But this book, with characters acting all irritating and dumb just to prolong conflict after conflict, is not even close to living up to its title.