Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86422-5
Contemporary Romance, 2015
Winter Dupree is a trendy, fabulous owner of a lingerie line who is missing a model at the last minute – the professional darling in question decides to go on holiday with her boyfriend instead. Fortunately, Winter is hot and curvaceous enough to take the model’s place – let’s not roll up your eyes too much, people – and she reluctantly allows herself to get all lingerie’d up for Fashion Week. This puts her in the close proximity with Taheim Reed, a player whom she met on a really bad date a while back. On that date, he showed almost an hour late, only flippantly apologized when she pointed out his tardiness, and suggested right after that they get in the sack. Taheim hasn’t changed much, but fortunately, Winter is the Right Woman for him, so he eventually respects and loves her while the obligatory nasty ex causes a scene.
I know, the right woman reforming the playboy is a popular trope in romance novels, and I have no objections to it myself if it is done right. This is one of those tropes that make the romance genre what it is, after all, and if I can’t take it, I may as well quit the genre. “Done right” is the operative words here, though. In Enticing Winter, however, the implications are pretty awful: that a man’s callous disrespect of women and his playboy ways are due to the type of women he consorts with, rather than due to any flaw in his personality, and that all he needs is to do is to meet the “right woman”. The fact that Taheim’s exes are portrayed in cartoon over-the-top mean and nasty ways is, naturally, never a reflection of his own mistakes. Somehow, he can’t help himself – how fortunate that the heroine is here to make him see the light!
As a result, Taheim’s transformation from heel to chill is never believable. It is so contrived – somehow, attraction and lust can lead magically into love and respect because Winter is the designated romance heroine and, thus, a happy ending is inevitable. There is no realistic character progression, just a complete shift from 0 to 10,000 as if dipping one’s wee-wee into the fate-determined right-honeypot-for-you can cause a man to change his spots overnight. If only real life is as uncomplicated, sigh.
It also doesn’t help that Winter is portrayed as some kind of hot, hot, hot babe who, at the same time, can improve one’s life just with her presence. Seriously, the cheerleaders in this story tell Taheim exactly just that – her presence changes their lives. At the same time, Winter would wail that she used to be fat so, oh no, when people compliment her over her perfect breasts and such, she is so triggered and needs hot men like Taheim to come hold her close and reassure her that she’s a fabulous human being now. My eyes roll up so often while reading this story, they probably resemble a slot machine in action.
At the end of the day, Enticing Winter feels too artificial from page one to last. The whole thing seems too obviously constructed to appeal to certain segments of readers: those who want to believe that they are dumped by a man because it’s 100% the other woman’s doing, and fat readers who want to put themselves in Winter’s shoes – no longer fat but looking fabulous, while at the same time being reassured by hot guys that they are adorable and hot 24/7. The vicarious escapism is the main priority here, compared to the storytelling and character development.