Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-1-335-21694-6
Contemporary Romance, 2018
Brenda Jackson’s Bachelor Unbound would have been a fun, campy story if it weren’t written the way it was. The premise has its share of absurd moments, and the hero Zion Blackstone as well as the heroine Celine Michaels are over the top types that would be right at home in some trashy soap opera fare. Even their names are straight out of the baby name handbook for soap opera protagonists, mind you.
Celine is a poor little rich girl who detests the fact that her father is spending millions on her. Eeuw, diamonds. Ick, college education. Nasty! She’d rather the man spend the money to help the poor. Hence, she is secretly the boss of a charity that funnels the money Daddy gives her to the needy. You’d think this champagne socialist will be happy that she gets to role-play as a philanthropist while rolling around in finery and dollar bills, but then again, rich people pretending to be woke is the in thing these days. Dodging taxes, molesting one another, and living in gated communities while screaming aspersions on Twitter at the middle class folks out there for not voting for Hillary Clinton – that kind of thing.
Anyway, Celine. Unfortunately, her father is scheming with some unpleasant guy to get her married off to that guy, and for some reason Celine can’t seem to say no or break away from her father’s browbeating. Then again, if she does, then there will be no story. Not to mention, she doesn’t seem to have a job of her own that can bring in some money of her own, so I guess she can’t break off from that man no matter what. He’s still paying the bills, after all. Mind you, what I’m saying here isn’t the author’s intention – it’s what I get from reading the story. The author has unwittingly created a dumbass heroine in her adherence to the rules that the heroine needs to have issues that must be solved by the hero as per the definition of romance in this genre.
So it makes sense that Celine finally finds the answer to her problems in a man who is richer than her father. Zion Blackstone is an “international jeweler”, although the author doesn’t make it clear whether it’s the “smuggling diamonds up the ass to avoid the notice of the customs officers” sort or some other kind of jeweler. What really matters is that he is rich – winner – and has slept with many, many women in the past – WINNER! – and he’s going to be Celine’s new daddy.
The bulk of this story sees Celine and Zion having some of the most unintentionally hilarious and awkward interactions I’ve come across. He sees her and drools over her breasts, she wants him, but because she wants him, all of a sudden he doesn’t want to sleep with her anymore. Cut to a while later, and these two repeat the same weird song and dance, while the author makes sure that I am aware that there are other books in this series by introducing those characters and giving me their background stories, even if these characters are one-scene wonders and are just taking up space. Along the way, he makes some incorrect judgments and assumptions about her morals, comparing her to all the morally deficient women he’d slept with in the past, so how fortunate for Celine that she is actually a good girl that conforms nicely to his standards for a woman he’d shag and marry.
It is only late in the story when Celine becomes the target of kidnappers that things heat up to give Zion finally a valid reason to shag Celine, and then it’s the end. Yes, the back cover synopsis is actually a paragraph of spoilers, but I suppose the poor fellow writing that thing has to make do with what is given, which in this case isn’t much to work on at all.
Bachelor Unbound is a mess. The main characters say and do a lot of things that are either messy or immature, usually both, and the kidnapping thing pretty much comes out of nowhere. Because the entire story is written in a monotonous, glacial pacing, the kidnapping thing ends up being described in the same urgency as Celine’s shopping adventures or her discussions with the obligatory girlfriend clichés about how Celine must sleep with Zion because he is hot. There are the usual daddy and mommy issues too, which are all brought up and resolved in a matter of two pages tops. The whole thing is a bewildering diarrhea of words.
But I have to say one thing – this mess is hilarious, even if the humor is unintentional pretty much all the time. The old Brenda Jackson who used to write better books a decade or so ago still shows up here now and then, so while this is a mess, the narrative is still more readable than the other similarly formulaic messes in this line. Sadly, this only makes Bachelor Unbound is a heartbreaking reminder of what happens when good authors lost their way.