Kimani, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-335-43302-2
Contemporary Romance, 2019
Nana Prah’s Ambitious Seduction has a familiar premise. Leonardo Astacio (bwahahahaha) and Kamilla Gordon are two lawyers vying for a partner position. He’s cold and ruthless because penis, she is emotional and wah-wah-wah because vagina. And yes, that one time sex boinkathon they had was so amazing, it’s… amazing. They end up in Aspen to win over a client, and in the process, they have sex again, she of course has a breakdown and wants to resign because wah-wah-wah and vagina, and that’s the sign of a good lawyer because it gets her a man, and that is all that really matters at the end of the day.
I can only wonder whether this story had been written by the author as a pitch to Harlequin Presents, but somehow it still ends up in the Kimani line for some reason. Maybe all the black author slots in that line are already filled up, who knows. I do wonder because Leonardo is an over the top hero of that line, to the point of being a caricature of one. In the opening few pages alone, I’m told that he threatens to fire his PA when she doesn’t respond to his barked commands within three seconds, he has to stop himself from smashing his fist onto his desk, and more. He is very rude and boorish, all the while considering himself the superior human being. I think I know why Leonardo is cut from the Harlequin Presents hero hall of fame – his only flaw is that he doesn’t call the heroine a slut often enough. Aside from that, he fits the definition to the tee, U, V, W, X, Y, and Z.
I’m not sure whether I share his opinion that Kamilla is a capable lawyer, though. Despite being said to be one, Kamilla is quickly reduced by the author to the most basic traits of a romance heroine: a sad story to make her an attractive victim needing emotional healing from the hero, and an emotional tendency to follow her impulse rather than common sense. If you ask me to choose which one I’d hire to represent me, I’d take the cartoon hero, because at least he’d then actually defend me like he’s paid to do. Kamilla may just decide that I look at her funny and therefore, she has the moral duty to leave me out to dry or worse, try to take me out in a valiant act of heroism only to mess up and run over a few school children instead.
It’s hard to take Ambitious Seduction seriously because everything here feels exaggerated to a cartoon-like degree. Both characters overreact to basically everything, with him snarling and yelling while she will sob, tear up, and act like the biggest martyr ever. Not that this is a bad thing, necessarily – this one skirts very close to campy fun territory because of how much it resembles a parody at times. In fact, my issue with this one is that it doesn’t push the camp envelope enough. Given that this one already can’t be taken seriously, why not go for gold and have the heroine hysterically screaming instead of merely sobbing? Why not have the hero actually smash the table into two because the PA failed to make him a cup of coffee to his liking? Or, at the very least, have the bed break while they are boinking, with the chandelier falling down shortly after.
In its current form, I can have a hard time figuring out whether it is an exercise in entertaining lunacy or a botched execution that manages to be unintentionally funny. Still, it does have its moments, intentional or not, so it’s not a complete loss.