Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86262-7
Contemporary Romance, 2012
Okay, I’m late with this month’s TBR Review Challenge, but to be fair to me, I had to take an unanticipated trip for pretty much the entire week.
There was nothing dramatic about it – just a sister of mine feeling melancholic at the anniversary of her husband’s death, so I decided to bring myself over to her place to keep her company. I didn’t have much time to do anything other than to watch things on YouTube and streaming services with her, hence my absence from this website for the last few days, but it was a good trip. These days, I feel that it’s not what we do with the ones we love that matter, as much as we do spend time with them. Maybe the Buddhists are right and we’ll be reincarnated over and over, or maybe the Christians and Muslims are right and we’ll spend the rest of the hereafter in heaven, or who knows, maybe we will all just fade out of existence – but this is the life I know and have, and I want to make the most out of it. Like Kylie Minogue would say, when I go out, I want to go out dancing.
Hence, when I get ready to catch up on my TBR Review Challenge, imagine my brows rising when I realize that the theme is, appropriately enough, “family ties”. Of course, it just has to be a Kimani book then. For all the faults of the line, its emphasis on family ties is both its greatest strength and biggest downfall. The greatest hits of Brenda Jackson, Francis Ray, Donna Hill, Janice Sims, and other authors that graced that line all the way back when it was simply Arabesque were founded on family ties and wholesome values, just as the over-reliance of family ties to flog a series way past its expiry date eventually became many authors’ downfall.
So, I close my eyes in front of the row of the long row of unread Kimani books in my bookshelf, pick a book, open my eyes, and it’s… Desire a Donovan by AC Arthur. Here also ends the maudlin part of my review, because this one is full of crazy soap opera melodrama.
The romance is actually the least interesting part of the whole thing, because there is just no drama or conflict here. When they were teens, Lyra Anderson asked her childhood friend Dion Donovan whether she should stay with him in Miami or go off to study photography in LA. Instead of telling her to stop being so dramatic because she would be studying photography, not oncology or anything actually useful, Dion told her that she deserved to go to the best colleges because she was awesome like that, and she then proceeded to take his response as a rejection. That’s it.
Don’t ask me why they can’t meet up in LA to have fabulous sex or whatever, because it’s not like they have to take two jobs to save up for a plane ticket. Dion is extremely loaded, because his family made a vast fortune in oil and casino, so he could have taken a private jet to see her anytime. At any rate, the two of them spend a lot of energy in this story telling me how much the other person means to them, and… really, I don’t know what’s stopping them from running off to hump their hearts out the moment they meet again. They are single, they are available, and they don’t seem to have venereal diseases or any crippling disability to keep them from getting intimate. So what’s the problem?
Well, the author needs to pad the pages somehow, so the first half of this story is a crushing bore, as the author basically introduces characters after characters in the Donovan family. These people are all blandly perfect and interchangeable, and they all act and think like a single hive mind in action (“Lyra… and Dion… MUST SHAG!”) so I can’t care less about this procession of cardboard cutouts. However, things get far more interesting once the author decides to show me that even rich people can be trashy types at heart. Top of the list is Lyra’s junkie mama, who just can’t stop creating drama every time she shows up – bless her heart, truly – and then there is Lyra’s trashy psycho ex to pull off tricks worthy of any two-bit soap opera villain. Indeed, events straight out of soap operas soon come hurtling at me, culminating in an unintentionally hilarious dramatic traffic accident.
Throughout it all, I can only be glad that these people are so obscenely wealthy. Had they been middle class or, heaven forbid, poor, who knows what kind of things would befall them. They may even end up in – gasp – jail.
I’m not going to lie – the romance bores me silly, but I am entertained by the over-the-top soap operatic elements in the second half of Desire a Donovan. I don’t normally associate AC Arthur with this kind of trashy goodness, as her other stories that I’ve read tend to meander more into hippie earth mother, metaphysical ying-yang territory of love as some kind of spirituality, so I am pleasantly surprised by this. Hence, three oogies – probably for all the “wrong” reasons, but who cares. Had this thing been a performing monkey on the street, I’d have happily given it a banana or something.