Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86358-7
Contemporary Romance, 2014
Mason Foley, a former NBA star turned firefighter, chooses to be what he is because, back when he was fifteen, his mother and his brother were killed in a fire. He feels that being a firefighter helps avert situations that befell his family. When the story opens, he suspects that there is an arsonist in Ocean City, because too many places are catching fire one after another. So, he decides to… spend the rest of the story being photographed for a sexy calender by Sabrina Crawford and not taking her no for an answer.
See, this is the problem with Kayla Perrin’s Burning Desire. The author starts out by laying the premise of an arsonist, telling me the hero’s back story, and then pushing everything aside for a superficial by-the-numbers romance. Sabrina has trust issues thanks to a useless father, so when Mason asks her out, she acts like he’d suggested that she dip her hair in mustard or something. When she tells him that she doesn’t want to go out with him, he wants to know whether she’s a lesbian (after all, why else won’t a woman jump on the chance to sleep with him?) and he’s not going to believe her anyway, because he knows that she wants him this much when he paws at her, kisses her. Of course, he’s right, she really wants it bad, so people, the moral of the day is this: when a woman says no, she’s secretly gagging for it, and it’s up to the alpha male to ignore her efforts to play hard to get and show her how much she wants him.
The hero could have been anything else – a millionaire, a lawyer, still an NBA professional – and the bulk of this story could have still proceeded as it did here. The arson angle is basically forgotten until the last few pages for what seems like a weak effort to link this book to the author’s next book, so I don’t know why the author even bothers with the whole thing. I guess “firefighter” is basically the distinguishing characteristic of Burning Desire, as everything else about it is pure mediocrity. The heroine is a caricature of a killjoy sourpuss hag who is secretly trembling with desire at the hero’s approach, the hero is a pig with Madonna/Whore issues, and their romance is basically two kids pushing one another because she believes that she would die if she admits that she wants him as bad as he knows she does.
The one way the author could have salvaged this nonsense is if she had made the heroine’s insane BFF/colleague the arsonist. Nya is ridiculous even as a caricature. She has no life, obsessed with seeing the heroine get laid and wanting to know everything, to the point that she is walking crazy. When Sabrina tells Nya that Mason hoists her off her feet and swings her over his shoulder in full view of everything on their first meeting because he doesn’t like it when she rejects his invitation to go on a date, Nya squeals that this is the closest Sabrina has to touching a hot guy in a long time so Sabrina should really sleep with that guy right away. Nya twists everything about Mason into a reason why Sabrina needs to sit on that thing and never get off. I get it, she’s oozing “You saw Mason gnaw off the heads of puppies during a Satanic ritual, and you didn’t slather yourself in goat blood and have sex with him in the pentagram there and then? What’s wrong with you girl? That guy is so fine!” levels of insane. And yet, the author doesn’t turn this insane piece of dung into the arsonist when it’s clearly the most obvious thing to do.
At any rate, Burning Desire is pretty much a waste of time. The external conflict is pure filler, clumsily added in during the first and last chapter of this book, while the rest of the book has little to do with it at all. The whole thing smacks of lazy writing, like this is something the author churns out to pass the time when she’s on the toilet, to be quickly sent to her publisher so that she can have some spare change to use while she spends her full effort on… something else, whatever that is. Read this one if you wish, but don’t blame me if it gives you the wrong kind of burning feeling.