Kimani, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-335-99880-4
Contemporary Romance, 2019
Following the Kimani line can be akin to experiencing cognitive decline. Most of the time I don’t recall the line anymore – it’s a complete stranger now, sometimes a frighteningly terrible one, because of how much the line has degenerated into. Sometimes, there are lucid moments, when I open a recent title and go, “Wait, there are still good things that I remember about it…” Janice Sims’s Cherish My Heart is that much-needed lull of lucidity.
At the time I am writing this, the COVID-19 pandemic is all around, and I have been staying at home for almost two weeks now. I haven’t talked to family members and friends for this long – sure, I can call, text, etc but it’s not the same as actual real life interaction – and the only time I get fresh air and have sunlight warming my skin is when I stand by the open window and look at the quiet, near deserted world outside. The news and social media bombard me non-stop with death numbers, numbers of cases, warnings and scolding to stay home, people advocating bizarre cures that certainly won’t work, other people politicizing the hell out of the disease… frankly, I go online only for movies and updating this website these days because both online and real life resemble a typical day in Grand Theft Automobile sometimes.
Hence, when I read this book, it’s like my blood pressure finally getting a much-needed rest. Sure, the story itself isn’t anything out of the ordinary. Our heroine, still bruised from a broken engagement, decides to explore having a one-night stand with a hot guy who looks at her like she’s the best bakery in town and he’d like a big bite out of her cake, and he turns out to be the very guy she is hoping to meet in a more professional setting. It’s just a matter of changing the jobs and other decorative adjectives of the hero and the heroine.
Here, our heroine is Petra Gaines, a zoologist who is doing her
Gorillas Chimpanzees in the Mist thing when she learns that her efforts in Congo may be in jeopardy. No, it’s not the civil war there that will put a halt to her efforts to be a Nobel prizewinner – it’s the same old lack of funds thing, thanks to her patron’s accountant embezzling the funds of the foundation and pinning the blame on the founder. Now, Petra is back in the US to present her studies and hopefully impress media mogul Chance Youngblood to open up his bank account and help her save the chimpanzees. He’s also the hot guy to whom she resembles the most yummy bakery ever, and while she leaves him the morning after thinking that she’d likely not see him again anytime soon, she’s so wrong.
With another author, the story will quickly degenerate into some “OMG she slept with me to get my money – what a HO!” screech fest, but Janice Sims is always too good for such nonsense. If anything, she’s one of the few authors who demonstrate that one can have intelligent, sensible, likable lead characters without turning the story into a boring affair. Petra and Chance communicate well, they have solid chemistry, and their developing relationship provides both the meat and the backbone to make up for a pretty dialed-down external conflict.
There are many secondary characters here, but they all have their place and roles in the story. None of those gratuitous “I’m here to remind y’all to buy my books!” plopped-in cameos that only serve to make the story more drawn-out, no indeed. While this story may not be the most exciting one, what with its lack of dead bodies, spy drama, and what not, everything seems to have a purpose here. There is coherent pacing, a strong sense of the story going somewhere, and a well-done tempo of build-up leading to a climax before winding down for a reaffirmation of the happy ending. All in all, this is one very solid read with enough feel-good vibes to make it a nice mood-lifter.
I do have a complaint. Oh come on, you know it’s coming. Cherish My Heart starts out with Petra doing her thing in Congo. I think I know why the author chooses to do this – she gets to show me that our heroine is indeed as good at her job as the author says she is. Thing is, the rest of the story takes place in New York so it’s a standard Kimani thing, and I will always wish that this story had taken place if not in Congo, then maybe in another, more peaceful African country perhaps. I want more of Petra with the chimpanzees!