Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-1-335-21677-9
Contemporary Romance, 2018
Chef extraordinaire Danica Nillson is fat. Her mother was a former supermodel. Yes, you’re right: we have a fatty with self-esteem issues up the wazoo, although you’d notice that it certainly doesn’t stop randy Italian men from wanting to stick a finger into her cake and take a lick. No, I’m not being crass, that’s what our hero Antonio Dante Lorenzetti does when this story opens – a real cake, peeps; Dani made the yummies for her BFF’s wedding. Prior to this, our heroine had been doing all the work while her now ex-fiancé took all the credit, and the wedding was off when he asked her to lose weight and our heroine was all “What…?” No matter. Toni Mario Luigi says, “Dio mio… is that wine? Brava! You’re an amazing artist!” and then they have sex. The end.
Okay, not really. There are still many more pages to fill after that sex scene, so we cut to one year later. You know how in TV shows, we often have doctors performing emergency tracheotomies on babies using a straw or cops heroically pushing a bus full of nuns out of the way of a speeding train? Well, Dani is like that, only when her mentor’s restaurant experiences an emergency, she decides to take up a spoon and pile on the kitchen heroism. What do you know, Toni is her mentor’s cousin! Imagine that! And so they begin. This one has cartoon exes (he’s also divorced), rebellious bratty teenage daughters that only the heroine can relate to, and over-the-top narcissistic mommies.
Well, A Taste of Pleasure is certainly a big step up from the previous book. Here, the hero and the heroine are actually given some breathing space to laugh, have fun, and communicate, and as a result, the romance in this one is a far easier sell. The author’s humor works better this time around too. There are some good moments here, but meh about the rest.
You see, this is also a story that goes down the same old route that has taken by every other Kimani author every month, and therefore, it is hard for me to muster much enthusiasm for this one. Like many other books in this line, there is no strong plot. Things just happen, and characterization often involves getting the reader to fill in the blanks using her familiarity with tropes and archetypes. If this and her previous book are anything to go by, the author has an affinity to soap-opera style melodrama, which won’t be a bad thing if things weren’t so predictable here. The characters aren’t people as much as they are just familiar, overused traits and types all thrown together for one more tired night at the rodeo.
Hence, each time the author introduces some conflict, things come to a screeching halt as I marvel at how contrived and fake the conflict is. If the characters momentarily become almost human now and then when they are relaxed and having fun, they revert quickly into tired old stereotypes when they need to whine about how they are too fat for love or they crave stability more than love. The conflicts play out in the same old tired way, so I feel old and tired too.
Not that this one is terrible. Well, it’s certainly readable, and readers who just want to imagine the fat heroine as themselves in order to vicariously get bandy-shagged by a cheesy Italian dude may find this one just the dish. Me, though, well, surely there is something more that the author can offer me for my $6.50.