Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86499-7
Contemporary Romance, 2017
China Edwards and Alexander Kingsley are BFFs since way back. In fact, his family practically accepts her as one of the family. Hence, when these two succumb into mutual lust and curiosity early on in the story, things become compli… okay, wait, things are actually pretty simple here. He likes her, she likes him, his family adores her, the end.
And that’s the issue with Martha Kennerson’s Always My Baby in a nutshell: the romance is not substantial enough to fill the pages. The author offers a distraction: someone is sabotaging Kingsley Oil and Gas, making the company seem like a complete environmental-unfriendly consortium of douchebags, and now the EPA is gunning for them. Fortunately, China is an environmental attorney, so she knows a thing or two about fighting fire with fire.
While this may seem like an interesting plot on paper, the end result is something else altogether: it’s a snore. You see, this is part of the The Kingsleys of Texas series, and you know how it is: every family member, especially the one with penises, needs to be optimize for future books. Nobody is allowed to go to waste. This goes against the entire point of having a whodunnit plot. Can the bad guy be any of the family members? Oh god, no – how else will the author make her bread if she has to sacrifice even one guy in the name of suspense. Surprise, some nobody turns out to be the bad guy instead – a nobody that doesn’t even show up in the story. I’m bowled over by the denouement, I tell you – that is, bowled over by the realization that maybe I should have just taken an afternoon nap instead of reading this thing.
Worse, the reveal of the bad guy coincides with how terrible and complacent the whole management, including Alexander is, so a part of me wonders just how many BP-level scandals they managed to overlook in the past because these so-called successful people are more busy socializing and finding life partners instead of actually working. It’s hard to believe that the company is so successful and large when it is being run like some mom and pop operation; fairly or unfairly, I get this impression that the author doesn’t know how to write about business people.
If Always My Baby had been a short story, it’d be decent. There is nothing I haven’t come across before when it comes to the romance, but the hero and the heroine are likable enough. However, the bulk of the story is devoted to some contrived and often unrealistic corporate boardroom drama and people telling our main couple how right they are for one another, and the whole thing is as dull as can be.