Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-1-335-21679-3
Contemporary Romance, 2018
Lauder Tolson is running for the North Carolina senate. The author is of course coy about his political affiliation, but given that Lauder claims to represent the working class while his opponent is a rich elite dude, it can only mean that he is a Republican in the present day.
Mind you, our hero is a politician the same way that a heroine is an actress in a romance novel: the whole thing feels as artificial as can be. Our hero’s team comprises only his campaign manager, who is his BFF. He spends an unbelievable amount of time in this story not campaigning or networking, despite the elections apparently being just around the corner, and of course, his platform comprises only vague plans to reform the social service system in the state – which is, of course, something he can do with the wave of his fingers because North Carolina is apparently a kingdom and he will be the king who decides all the new laws of the land.
Alas, because people in North Carolina are so stupid that the only criteria they use for voting is the candidate who is married and has kids, Lauder begins to fall back on the popularity rating because he is single. So, it makes sense that he finds a fake girlfriend, whom he’d then kick out of his life the moment he is elected, because seriously, the people in this romance novel version of North Carolina are really that stupid and will not see anything amiss with this. And, instead of finding some willing ho who will do it for money or whatever, Lauder wants that soon-to-be-dumped fake girlfriend to be Willow Dawson, whom he’d deflowered and then parted on bad terms with ten years or so ago. Because that’s how you choose them.
Am I supposed to view this guy as the savior of North Carolina? He’s as thick as lead!
Of course, he didn’t tell everyone that he took Willow’s precious virginity all those years ago. Word got out and landed Willow into hot mess, but he wasn’t responsible for it. Willow claims that she was put through hell as a result, but since the story comes from her, and she behaves like a histrionic chicken that has just been tazered in all this while, I can only wonder whether her angst is exaggerated like everything else about her. This woman is an expert in self-sabotage: she will do all she can to fall in love with Lauder again, then push him away because she has fallen in love with him, and subsequently blame herself for hurting him and hence she knows that she must push him away some more. Couple this annoying attitude with her prickly, unnecessarily confrontational or melodramatic attitude and I have a heroine driving the plot in a way that really tests my patience.
Oh, and it is almost impressive how Willow holds a grudge against Lauder even as she thirsts for him in her oh-so-precious “I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown!” way, but one thing she holds constant is her desire to be a wife. These days most authors at the very least pay lip service to how their heroines have careers and what not because twenty-first century feminism and all that, but here, Willow just wants that ring on her finger and her life will be forever perfect.
And yes, Lauder wins not on the merit of his superior campaigning, but because his opponent is caught doing something bad. Wait, that’s actually very Democrat of him… so maybe he’s one after all. Hmm, American politics can be so confusing these days.
Campaign for His Heart is a story in which the only criteria a politician needs to win an election is (a) be male, (b) appear to be attached to some woman, and (c) run against a crooked opponent. Therefore, one really shouldn’t read this one expecting any kind of halfway credible political story. Okay, so how about the romance? Well, it has a neurotic heroine bent on being the biggest drama queen on the block, so a good degree of patience is needed on top of the suspension of disbelief. Personally, I’d say it’s too much work to get into and appreciate this one – may as well find something else to read.