Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86523-9
Contemporary Romance, 2017
Aww, Decadent Desire is the final entry in Zuri Day’s The Drakes of California series, but if you are heartbroken, take heart in knowing that the author has lessened the blow by making this book so wretchedly boring. You may just end up skipping happily by the last page, because surely anything else you do after this will be so much more fun in comparison.
The back cover synopsis is the most interesting part of the entire thing, believe it or not. Maybe the publisher should have given that person a book contract if he or she didn’t already have one. According to that false advertising, psychologist Julian Drake – who is referred to here as “doctor”, which can be jarring for some folks outside of US like me, as in this part of the world, psychologists don’t have a medical degree and hence they never use “Dr” in front of their names, but I am getting off track here – opens his practice in New Orleans, in a part of town where his ridiculously wealthy family practically rules everyone and everything. In doing so, he leaves his on-and-off girlfriend Nicki Long behind. After all, she is a dancer who is also a “private yet social butterfly”. Yet, it is Julian and his family that are somehow “shocked” when she decides not to join him. Heaven forbid a woman to want to have a life and career of her own, independent of her beau’s!
And then, she shows up, and brings danger along with her as she and Julian happily reunite…
Well, that’s what the back cover synopsis says anyway.
What I get instead is a story where exposition is used as filler. In the first ten pages alone, I am slapped with the history behind the founding father of the Drake empire, and then the spotlight of various sequel baits. Will this story be incomplete without these details? No. In fact, these details can be removed and the story will actually move faster and smoother for it, but I guess that will mean the author having to either do more work or turn in only a third of a full-length novel to her editor. At the end of the most dreary first ten pages ever, someone tells Julian that Nicki is here, and in the same dreary dead tone and without any change in pacing, the author plods on about how Julian then takes Nicki to some bedroom where he proceeds to give her three orgasms. Three is a good number, but the author tells the entire thing like she were this stupefied high school teacher talking in a monotone because she knows her students aren’t listening, and she just wants to get this pretense of teaching them over and done with as she’s not paid enough to bother with those wretches.
Everything here is told, not shown. There is no distinct shift in pacing or tone – everything here is narrated in glacial indifference that I have a hard time caring for this story. In fact, this one finally gets finished after being put down god knows how many times, as I always find so many more fun things to do. The effort isn’t even worth it, because the romance itself is paper-thin. The characters are already a couple in the first chapter, and everything else is filler. The suspense stuff and other “plot” elements are perfunctory, underdeveloped inserts to keep the pages coming. Decadent Desire aims to embody every tired trope in a Kimani “family dynasty” romance without even trying to inject anything new into the proceedings, only this time the author seems to have given up halfway.
Even the efforts at humor fall flat into rigor mortis territory.
“Who knew a man with glasses could be so sexy?”
“You know what they say. The sexiest muscle on a man is his brain.”
“That isn’t what poked me in the back this morning.”
OH MY GOD THAT IS SO FUNNY, MY RIBS JUST BURST OPEN AND THAT CREEPY XENOMORPH FROM THOSE ALIEN MOVIES POPS OUT IN HAPPINESS.
Sigh, I don’t know. Despite the author claiming that she is so heartbroken that the series is coming to an end, reading this one gives me the impression that she’s probably relieved to be free of having to write more books in this series, and that she’s going to throw a party afterwards to celebrate. Me, I’m just going to do my best not to dwell on the time and effort I’ve wasted on reading this thing.