Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86403-4
Contemporary Romance, 2015
No, Beautiful Surrender has nothing to do with any of the new adult titles out there at the moment. This is as traditional a romance novel as they come. However, it also has a heroine that is very convincing as an escapee from a psychiatric ward for the first two thirds or so of the book, so maybe the link to the new adult genre isn’t entirely imaginary.
Mya Winters has an unhappy past, which she then extrapolates to hyperbolic levels – all men are bastards, everyone is a twat, and it’s all everyone’s fault. She has friends here, but that’s only because this is fiction and those friends are, therefore, fictitious. In real life, her only friends would be some cats and a tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. In this story, she wants Elite Events, a company that she co-owns with two friends (insert “Buy their books!” jingle here), to take over the running of the local after-school programs after funding for the original programs was cut. I have no idea why any for-profit entity would do this, but you know romance heroines. Who wants to make a living when there are snowflakes that need saving?
Never mind that they have no funds and Mya actually admits that she leaves out details of financing the program out of the proposal because she has no clue how to begin securing funds – someone really should give her one of those business gurus of the year awards – but she has an idea how to start. It is something that Chicago has never seen before, she says – a charity auction! Legalized prostitution, in other words, only this time the prostitutes give their earnings to the charity that is their pimp. Really, this is a new idea, so revolutionary, but her friends decide that the Elite Events Charity Date Auction needs a sexy male co-host to do the pimping out alongside. Mya is like, oh no, men are bastards and I am predisposed to hating everything so I hate men, men are bastards, so I hate bastards, and I hate Malik Madden for no reason other than I hate, so Malik is a bastard.
Malik has wanted to paw those hot legs of Mya ever since he saw her at a wedding of one of her buddies (buy the book, darlings), during which Mya pours her drink to the face of a guy who wouldn’t leave her alone. So, he does what a normal guy who wants to sleep with a woman would do: he taunts her that he’d be her co-host no matter what, because her friends have already booked him on and Mya’s objections are therefore noted and dismissed. He actually smirks at her. Mya snarls, and the battle is on.
Beautiful Surrender is plagued by the heroine’s often irrational confrontational attitude. She is rude and dismissive toward everyone and everything, so much so that I wonder whether the author has deliberately set out to create a warthog-hedgehog hybrid creature as a heroine. But no, it does seem like the author is complete unaware of Mya’s crazy antics, as she has Malik and other characters constantly singing praises about Mya, such as Malik calling Mya “really sociable, yet private at the same time”. Well, I guess that makes sense, if by “sociable” we are talking about a baboon hissing and snarling at everything while showing everyone the finger. I expect Mya to have some pretty big damage as an explanation for her behavior, but the author merely serves up the standard sad little girl with no happy home thing for Mya. This only makes Mya seem irrational and her constant sneering gets old very fast.
The last third of this book is far better, mostly because Mya is busy having sex in this part of the story to do annoying things. It’s sad that the good parts come because the heroine is too busy in the sack to be up to her old nonsense, but by this time, I’m so over her that I’d take whatever I can get. All in all, this is one story where you would need to have plenty of patience for the heroine’s constant abrasive attitude and her tendency to think and react in hyperbolic extremes.