Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86374-7
Contemporary Romance, 2014
Eve of Passion is the first book in the multi-authored Wintersage Weddings series. The premise of the series is simple: Wintersage is a Massachusetts town where all the very rich folks come together and make out like they are in a novel by Jackie Collins, and the spotlight is on three women who have been best friends since they were kids. The three women pool their abilities together to create a one-stop event management agency.
Here, the spotlight is on Janelle Howerton, who is the event planner with a great track record. Her father wants to run for a seat in the House of Representatives, and he isn’t above pimping Janelle out to Ballard Dubois, billionaire, if this means that Ballard would pour in a generous amount of money into his campaign. Janelle knows that her father is a self-absorbed pampered man who expects everyone around him to cater to his whims and desires, but Janelle believes that she owes him a great deal, so… let’s just say that the whole thing is complicated on her part. Ballard turns out to a hot guy who clearly wants Janelle, but can they enter a relationship with her Daddy issues threatening to smother them all?
I like what AC Arthur is trying to do here. There are many potentials for people to jump to wrong conclusions and kick off an epic drama of mistrust and what not, but the author prefers to turn this story into one of Janelle’s self discovery and her willingness to enter the relationship with both eyes wide open. As she tells Ballard, she knows what she is getting into, she believes that she knows him, so there is no need for assurances and pretty promises. She knows, she wants this, so let’d do it. I like this, I really do, and the last few pages of this book are especially satisfying because both characters bare their hearts to one another in a way that feels far more genuine than anything else leading up to that scene.
The problem with Eve of Passion is that the characters all speak like they are reading aloud lines from a really bad script. Poor Ballard has the lion’s share of the most cringe-inducing lines in this story. Here is a sample of his greatest hits.
“When I date a female, we focus on getting to know each other, and if that’s pleasing to us both, we take it to the next level,” he stated as if he were reading a report at a meeting.
At least the author is aware that the man sounds like an automaton, so the question is: why have that poor guy speak like that? What kind of man refers to someone he wants to date as a “female”? And come on, is this the kind of thing a reasonable man would say to a woman he has just met three minutes ago?
“It’s a statement of fact. An undeniable one. I want to continue seeing you, Janelle. It’s as simple as that.”
He sounds like a talking toaster. Please make him stop.
“You’re a strong woman, Janelle. You’re a decisive businesswoman, and a good daughter. Fear is not in your makeup. It’s not who or what you are.”
Alright, he’s definitely reading out lines meant for Pat Morita in some kind of canceled sequel to Karate Kid, right? Right? I’m creeping myself out repeating Ballard’s lines here, so I’d stop now, but trust me, there’s plenty more from where those came from.
The conflicts here have me rolling up my eyes a bit. Janelle panics when news get out that she’s seeing Ballard, because people would think that she’s sleeping with him to help her father win the election. Really, is she that dense that she doesn’t see that coming? Her abusive ex is over the top evil, and his appearance allows Ballard to channel Steven Seagal even more, so I can’t say I’m too fond of that development either.
Still, I like the underlying message in Eve of Passion, and it’s a shame that much that is good about this story is buried under all the preachy self-help announcements.