Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-1-335-21693-9
Contemporary Romance, 2018
Nicki Night’s Diamonds for the Holidays is a Frankenstein’s monster of sorts: we have the top of a bad Kimani novel stitched onto the rear end of a much better story. I’m not sure what happened, but I can only guess that maybe the author had to write a story based on a premise that she personally found painful to carry out, but eventually she had her editor’s bullet points all done and put out of the way, leaving her free to let down her hair like Elsa and run up and down an ice mountain while shrieking that she is finally letting all that poop in her system go.
The first half is really painful to go through. It has all the traits of the cancer that had finally placed the entire line on life support: repetitive iterations of the character’s single back story every few pages, pointless detailed back stories of secondary characters that have no further role in the story beyond their sole appearance, setting up of the main characters’ subplots that go nowhere after that first mention, and so forth.
Nixon Gaines has been promoted to Mergers and Acquisitions in some company and he is pleased with the offer, even if a part of him is a bit daunted by his new responsibilities… and I’d think that his promotion and new responsibilities will feature somehow in the plot but ah ha, nope. He turns out to be another generic rich guy and the rest of the story is all about him and the heroine Jade Chandler hooking up. Okay, maybe that’s where the merging factors in, but I don’t know about the acquisition part.
The author tells me twice, with the same details repeated again each time, that Jade broke off with an ex because she wasn’t ready to settle down like he was, and now she feels some regret because he is the best she ever had or something, and Jade is determined to exorcise Mitch out of her system. Ooh, does this mean that Jade will spend the rest of the story agonizing over Mitch, especially since the author considers this aspect of the story important enough to repeat it twice to my face over the space of a few pages? Nope, Mitch is just there for Jade to compare sizes and lengths and go, yay, Nixon is the one.
I am about to give up on this one when the two main characters finally merge and acquire, and that’s when things abruptly become better – so much better. From that point, there still isn’t much of a plot other than “Hot rich guy meets hot gal – the end, come again!” but natural-sounding, witty banters begin to flow. The chemistry becomes apparent, and both Nixon and Jade slowly become more believable human beings as I turn the pages. Sure, he has daddy issues and she has commitment issues – yeah, yeah, just like everyone in this line, baby – but these two deal with these issues with an unexpected kind of maturity that catches me by surprise. Even when the dreaded ex-squeeze of the hero thing shows up, the story doesn’t get derailed. Sure, there are some knee-jerk silliness, but the main characters still manage to resolve things in a way that has me convinced that they will really be good for one another. There are even some sweet, poignant scenes in the late quarter of this story.
Hence, Diamonds for the Holidays is a Quasimodo of sorts. It’s like someone had stitched the rear end and legs of The Tudors-era Henry Cavill to the upper body of Steve Buscemi. Who is going to stay long enough to look down and discover the goodies below when the first impression screams “Swipe left with extreme prejudice!”? What a shame, really.