Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86456-0
Contemporary Romance, 2016
Lisa Smith-Todd is doing well for herself as a lawyer, having been appointed senior partner when the story opens on the account of her amazing track record. On the emotion front, though, she is quite the mess, still smarting from a relationship that ended badly. After that relationship ended, she went into a relationship with Rashad MacRae, an assistant register of deeds who also plays in a band, but she has severe trust issues and his unwillingness to bare to her what he is doing every second of the day soon killed that relationship too. Well, Rashad wants her back, and he is just biding his time to make his move… and now, when they both bid on a piano once owned by a famous musician, he will win her back… by beating her to the punch in getting the item she really, really wants.
I wish I am kidding about the plot in Every Beat of My Heart, but the above paragraph describes the main and only conflict in this story: the piano. Now, I’m all of silly people with money buying expensive and unnecessary things – I’d do the same, with gusto, if I were in their shoes – but the premise sets up the characters to be silly, and the payoff is these characters admitting that, gee, they’ve been such sillies all this while. Not exactly the kind of payoff I am looking for.
And the payoff is especially lacking considering the silliness I have to wade through. Now, it’s understandable how the heroine may have trust issues after a bad break up, but she can be quite the unreasonable sort here. She keeps telling me that she’s starting to fall in love with Rashad again, but her actions and emotions are more of those of a suspicious, even paranoid woman than a woman in love. I’m not sure whether she can be happy this second time around for long. For one, she has trust issues that seem to evaporate way too easily by the time the last page rolls in – I’m not sure that she’s emotionally prepared to make it work. Maybe she should see some shrink first? She gets so worked up over the most trivial thing, to the point that molehills become, in her eyes, mountains… MOUNTAINS OF LIES!!!
Rashad is a head-scratcher. He knows that the woman has trust issues… so he decides to keep things from her anyway even if he knows that she will take the revelations badly. He wants something good with her, but tells himself that she has hurt him before so now he will never show her the true extent of his feelings! Huh? He is willing to spend a hundred grand on a piano… but he can’t take her to a romantic visit to Paris or something. No, he basically tells her that they are getting back together and she has better get down and git down to it. Huh? I don’t know which is more depressing – that he does this or that it works in getting him her.
And then, the piano. Firstly, since when is getting the piano at all costs – even if she wants it for her very sick mother – is going to win Rashad Lisa’s heart? Forget that he ends up getting her – the fact that he can’t stop for a minute to think that, I don’t know, at least loaning her the piano until her mother croaks may be a better way to win her back speaks volumes about his intelligence. And as for Lisa, oh my god, she wants the piano for her mother, without even asking her mother whether she wants it, so Lisa only ends up blinking when her mother asks her whether Lisa expects her mother to keep that huge-ass piano. She’s as dense as Rashad, I tell you, so I guess, in a way, they make a good pair in a “Will file divorce papers when she can’t beat him at Monopoly two weeks later!” way.
The piano also trivializes the story in unfortunate ways. These are two people who are willing to drop fifty and even a hundred grand on a piano, so when Lisa wails that she can’t afford to pay more for that thing, it is all I can do not to roll up my eyes. And when Rashad agonizes over his colleagues being retrenched, because many of them can’t afford to make ends meet, I can only snort and wonder whether he could have just given them checks of ten grand each if he’s that concerned about them. It’s hard for one to act like they are so concerned about money when these people are throwing down serious money on some dead dude’s piano.
Every Beat of My Heart is better written compared to the author’s previous book for Kimani, as there is less obvious padding and the pacing is better. It is unfortunate, therefore, that the whole premise is actually more poorly put together compared to the other book. One step forward, two steps back, sigh.