Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4926-7073-5
Contemporary Romance, 2018
Fake engagements are very hard to pull off in a contemporary setting. especially these days when it is so easy for people to spy on us 24/7 and expose any slip-ups, so Kianna Alexander deserves perhaps some kudos for having the testicular iron to write this story. Couldn’t Ask for More might work if it was an outright farce, like a script for loud comedians to just let loose and make a lot of funny noises for 90 minutes, but for some reason the author opts to do that instruction manual narrative technique instead. Reading this one is like scrolling down a bullet point list, something like twenty five ways this story can poison the brain cells.
Alexis Devers manages to have a hit fashion line, despite being surrounded by females who exist solely to demand details of all the penises that have come within twenty feet of our heroine. Unfortunately, her publicist decides to tell people that the line is so fabulous that Alexis wearing her own fashion snags her a wealthy hot fiancé. Alexa could have done the smart thing by firing that dumbass and issuing a public statement about how the publicist was on drugs so kids, don’t do drugs, and by the way, Alexis identifies as a non-binary, genderqueer trans-Hot Topic twin soul kin so #woke, and then sit back as Hollywood luminaries and people in the media all hail her as the #wokekween of the year. But no, our heroine instead scrambles around for a fake fiancé ASAP.
Meanwhile, Bryan James is in trouble. He spends his days sleeping around, posing manfully in gyms, and getting together with his fellow sequel baits to advertise their books to readers, and now his father wonders why he’s paying Bryan to do all this nonsense. Bryan’s cousin – described as an asshole, naturally – goes out to seek and close big deals on a consistent basis, which something the author through Bryan denounces as scummy. Therefore, our hero plans to show his father than he has the goods too by getting a contract from Alexis’s dumbass fashion house. As you can guess, she insists that he should be her fake fiancé if he wanted to close the deal. Don’t worry, she’s hot, he’s hot and loaded, so all this is kosher.
The rest of the story is, as I’ve mentioned, written like an instruction manual. She says this. He says that. She thinks that. He does that. She giggles. He does this. They go here. I want to scream. Because of this joyless style of narrative, emotional scenes have the same lack of urgency or drama as those scenes in which our main characters do all the boring “Going to this place to have conversations with people that end up adding nothing to the story” stuff that every reader of Kimani books in these last two years would be very familiar with. Seriously, the scenes in which the main characters are supposed to be having emotional exchanges have all the intensity of someone accidentally passing gas after eating too many radishes.
The writing being as flat as a pancake being run over by traffic for a week straight aside, the story is made of dead brain cells. Alexis only begins to know whom Bryan really is by the late third of the story, and by that point Miss Genius has already convinced herself that she is in love with him. The grand shrieking from her at the denouement is due to she discovering that he is a – gasp – playboy. Imagine that, a man who will deliberately fake-shack up with her for money is somehow morally deficient! The whole romance is just so, so, so dumb. Yes, these two vapid, shallow people are in love – truly the romance of the century.
Then we have Bryce. It’d be nice if the author had given me reasons to root for him over the “asshole”, but no. I am instead supposed to root for this guy, who is using deception as a shortcut to give that one single reason to get his father off his back, so that he can then revert to being his useless self again. As I’ve mentioned, the “asshole” actively closes big deals on a consistent basis, so in many ways, he’s a far worthier guy to get the promotion and big bucks. Yet, the author expects me to root for Bryan over the “asshole”… why? Is it because Bryan is the designated romance hero? He is a useless waste of flesh. The only reason he and Alexis deserve one another is so that their hook-up will spare the rest of the world from being further contaminated by their body fluids.
Anyway, Couldn’t Ask for More is definitely something that I can’t and won’t ask for more. This is easily one of the dumbest romance novels of 2018 in my opinion, so no, no more please.