Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86228-3
Contemporary Romance, 2011
It took me this long to get to Bachelor Undone because it’s a book by Brenda Jackson. See, Brenda Jackson is the black romance equivalent to Jayne Ann Krentz. She’s the biggest black author to break into white-washed mainstream market of sorts – the Desire line – and while this is baby step to most people, it’s like Nora Roberts hitting the mainstream consciousness when you place Ms Jackson’s success in its proper context. And just like Jayne Ann Krentz, Ms Jackson has been writing the same story and the same characters for at least five hundred years.
To many online folks, Ms Jackson may not be as recognizable as, say, Barbara Samuels and Suzanne Brockmann when they are asked by Jay Leno, “Can you name me one author of black romance, since you say that you are really keen on reading multicultural romances?” but if you ask anyone who actually reads black romances, then yes, Brenda Jackson is huge. And hugely repetitive.
Bachelor Undone is part of the Bachelors in Demand series, in which six guys – when it comes to series, this author doesn’t just stop at three books – call themselves Bachelors in Demand without any sense of self-awareness whatsoever, as they know they are hot and they want to catch all the honeys in the block without being caught themselves. If that sounds disgusting, you must remember: in the beautiful world of Kimani romance, rampant promiscuity in handsome and rich males is a virtue, as this is a sign that they are man enough to handle our woman and knock her up with many, many, many, many, many fat cute babies. I have not read previous books in this series, and I still understand this story well enough to be disgusted by it, so I guess I can safely say that this story can stand alone quite well.
Cutting aside the sequel bait “Look at me! I’m pregnant by my hot husband! I’m a hot guy that will knock up some damsel in distress in the next book! Look at us and buy our books!” nonsense that clutter this book – just like with every other book by this author – I get the story of Darcy Owens who goes to Jamaica to get some R&R when she meets the man she detests but secretly finds hot, York Ellis. York is in town to investigate on behalf of his friend some hanky-panky in a film set that causes bootleg reels to be leaked online, and it just happens that his prime suspect is itching for Darcy. Darcy is warned by York to stay away from that guy, but because she hates him even as she wants him, she will not be told, so there! These two argue, bicker, have sex, repeat and rinse, and then they break up, and get back together to get married in the end. Like I said, it’s just like every other book by this author.
Darcy is That Heroine, and York is That Guy. Here, however, the more irritating aspects of being That Stereotype are amplified to a mystifying but painful degree. Darcy is feisty in a horrible way – she will not be told what to do, even if it makes sense to just follow the advice, just because. Sure, she can take care of herself, but she is also petulant and immature to the point that she resembles a child having a temper tantrum more than anything else.
York is a bigger problem. Now, every Kimani book routinely calls its hero “alpha male” and “playboy” even when, sometimes, the book has a hero that is anything but. Here, however, the warning is right there on the box – “supremely arrogant” York is an unpleasant control freak. If you like this sort of heroes, great, this book would be easier on your nerves than it was on mine. If not, be careful. York has a complex about women “rightfully” being protected from harm to the point that he yells at Darcy in front of the cops after he discovers that she has single-handedly taken down a thief trying to break into her place. It is better, in his mind, that she cowers and hides herself because, that way, she will be safe.
This attitude persists throughout the book. Darcy is troublesome because she wants to do things her own way; she doesn’t know her place because she wants to take care of herself. Darcy can take care of herself, so his attitude ends up being horribly patronizing and even offensive. He considers a woman’s independence a flaw, basically, and I never warm up to him as a result. Okay, honestly, I find him overbearing and obnoxious, and I would love to introduce his gonads to a wood chipper. Unsurprisingly, he never considers her wishes when it comes to making a decision for them, as, what with him being a mighty male, he should be in charge always as, you know, women are weak and must be kept safe, those poor creatures.
There isn’t much of a romance here, as he’s basically shagging the heroine to make her forget those other guys she seems to be paying attention to, and she’s just boinking him because he’s so hot. I don’t see any emotional connection here, so I can only raise a brow when these two decide to get married by the last page.
Bachelor Undone is similar to the author’s previous books, but with the bonus of an overbearing control freak of a hero to sweeten the deal. How that would go down, that depends on your threshold for the author’s brand of formula. I won’t lose too much sleep worrying about this if I were you – at the rate the author cranks out books, there will be six new-but-still-familiar books from her out on the shelves by the time you make up your mind, so it’s not like missing out on this book would be a great loss. So take your time: count your pennies, dig your nose… unless you really have a thing for control freak assholes, that is.