Designed By Desire
by Pamela Yaye, contemporary (2013)
Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86325-9

Designed By Desire is the second book in the multi-author series Fashioned With Love, but it can be read as a standalone story. It is a bewildering read, but that's because of the bizarre double standards and logic holes rather than continuity issues. This one has the same issues as the previous two books by this author that I've read: it seems like she makes things up as she goes along instead of basing her story on any semblance of reality.

Brianna Hamilton is a fashion designer who is, currently, under stress. You see, events from the last book culminated with some drama involving the younger sister, a model. I don't want to give away the nature of the drama, but it's not something that is actually shocking in the real world. It's actually an open secret that it's a common hobby among folks in the fashion industry, to the point that it's even touted as an easy way to lose weight, without the messy consequences of eating disorders. But in this story, it's a shocking thing so everyone acts like it has never happened before and oh my god, the family reputation is in jeopardy.

Brianna has always made sure that she has a spotless reputation. She doesn't act skanky or sexy, and she even recoils in disgust when there is a possibility that she would be seen attending a movie by a director known for his sexually explicit scenes. That makes sense. We people expect our fashion designers to be role models with behavior that surpass the track record of saints. It also makes sense that the paparazzi has been hounding the Hamiltons for ages, despite the fact that this family is squeaky clean, as, after all, reports on such examplar of virtue make far more riveting read compared to the antics of the Kardashians, the Biebers, and the Lohans in this world.

I'm putting considerable spotlight on this issue because this is the plot. International hotel chain CEO and playboy (like there is any other hero in the world) Collin Childs wants to know first hand how Brianna looks like naked, but she's like, hell no, she doesn't want to ruin the family reputation by dating a perfectly eligible single guy because that is like, so whorish and skanky and OH MY GOD, PUT THAT AWAY, no wait, she really wants to touch it, oh the dilemma.

The core of this story is a perfectly acceptable romantic fantasy. A hero that doesn't scrimp on showing the heroine a great time with things and pleasures only lots of money can buy - what's not to love? Of course, you can argue that the hero may as well be replaced with an American Express Centurion Card, but you have to admit, even if this is the case, it's still so hot. The fact that the author makes sure to tell me that the hero splashes a lot of money on the wooing the heroine - yeah, he can look like an exhibit on PT Barnum's show and it'd still be wonderful.

Unfortunately, this fantasy comes along with a bewildering show of contempt of the females that live in the same stratified circles as Collin. Apparently, it is only okay to have power and wealth if you have a big penis and a flat stomach as well. Words like "blonde" and "voluptuous" are treated with the same degree of disgust normally associated with words like "gonorrhea" and "herpes", mostly because those disgusting whores dare to pose even a whiff of threat to our heroine. It is okay if one is like Brianna, being dragged along to enjoy the "expensive" - the author makes sure that this word is used - pleasures showered by Collin, but a woman that wants these things is naturally a blonde, voluptuous slattern.

Brianna is supposed to live in the same stratified circle as Collin, but she acts like she has never seen or considered the expensive excesses people like her are capable of. Oh, Collin took her on an expensive (there's that word again!) dinner in Paris - be still her heart! A top fashion designer and member of a very, very successful fashion empire is star-struck by the experience of dining in a five-star restaurant in Paris. If you don't laugh at the ridiculousness of the previous sentence, I suspect you'd enjoy this book far, far more than I ever could.

The story is not very interesting, as it hinges on Brianna acting like a melodramatic and often irrational dingbat, getting worked up over small things. Collin is an inconsistent character - he insists that he's not a player, but the author pegs so many voluptuous blonde demonic skanks on his appendages that he looks like a complete liar. Factor in a premise that is completely broken from the start, and Designed By Desire is more like a tragedy designed by someone whose research of the lives of the rich and famous as well as life in the fashion industry consists of a fifteen-second perusal of a 1975 issue of People.

Rating: 41

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