Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-1-335-21660-1
Contemporary Romance, 2018
The back cover synopsis of Nadine Gonzalez’s Exclusively Yours gives basically the entire story away, just to let you folks know. Not that it matters, because it’s not like this story has any plot twist that will ruin anyone’s enjoyment should it be spoiled. There are only a handful of acceptable plot lines in the Kimani line, and this one is your usual rich boss, feisty but barely capable employee romance. Most of what is found here will not surprise anyone who is familiar with a Kimani story with that story line – these days, it’s as if the editor will just give the author a list of compulsory plot points and phrases, and tell the author to form full sentences around these points to produce a new book.
Anyway, this one, oh yes. Nicolas Adrian is hot, rich, and is used to taking whatever he wants, even if this “whatever” is the honeypots of his hot employees. He is, as the author puts it, not into self-denial after all. Don’t worry, he’s handsome and rich, so this is not #metoo as much as it is “Me too, squee!”. So, our hero basically asks inappropriately personal questions to Leila Amis, our heroine, and generally does a lot of things that can and will be considered sexual harassment if he were fifty pounds heavier and a few million dollars lighter in the bank account. Leila, meanwhile, has a long history of quitting her jobs, and right now she feels like quitting again because her hot boss is making inappropriate overtures at her and she’s totally down with putting out, except doing so will mean that the author will have to end her story after page 100, so she will have to put up a lot of fuss before she puts out.
So, she puts out. What, you think she won’t? Of course, she insists that they can only have a fling, and it must end when he leaves town in two months or so, blah blah blah, and meanwhile, she will wring her hands and goes all mopey about how she must not fall for him, no matter how hot he is, but oh, leaving him will be so hard, et cetera – you’ve heard and read all that before, I’m sure.
By the end of the fling deadline, the sex is so good that it completely transforms Nick into a total 180 – a guy determined to have Leila in his life for so much longer, and he even tells her so. I tell you, I wish my vagina is this powerful when it comes to its effects on men. Anyway, Leila is so “OH NOES!” about having this hot, loaded guy wanting her to his long-time girlfriend that she bolts.
To enjoy this story, I need to care about the characters and their dilemma, since there are no dead bodies or werewolf attacks to distract me from the personal drama here. Given that the bulk of this story sees Leila running away from Nick’s honorable intentions like a terrified heroine in a slasher movie, I need to know why she’s like this. Did she have some traumatic incident with a rich, loaded man in the past? Does she have some kind of phobia that she should see a shrink about? Unfortunately, our heroine’s motivations are never made concrete as far as I’m concerned, so this story is all about this woman fleeing from a besotted rich, hot guy as if it’s the worst thing that can ever befall a woman. Am I supposed to find Leila’s drama compelling? Why? She seems like a dumbass to me. Give that guy to someone else if she is so unhappy about it. All this drama seems like a contrivance to keep the story going until the author has met her word count.
Still, I think I get what the author is trying to do here. Exclusively Yours is supposed to be an arc of self-discovery for Leila, as she will eventually realize that she needs to stop running away at the first sign of trouble, and she also needs to reach out and make things happen for herself, instead of whining and moping when things don’t go her way. Even so, Leila’s behavior needs to have a context. I need to have even a little degree of understanding as to why she’s like this, so that I can empathize with her even when she’s showing her ass all over the place. This is especially important as the heroine’s epiphany takes place very late in the story and up to that point she is a whiny, self-absorbed, petulant hot mess. The context would have given me the patience to hang in there and care.
So, I don’t care. The heroine is like a lottery winner who spends a few hours whining that she is traumatized by the colors on her million-dollar check. No one cares.
On the bright side, the author has a bouncy, sharp narrative style, and I like it. Sure, she tells a bit more than she should, when she could have shown more, but I’m sure the author can work out that kink after a while. Maybe her future books will entertain me more, who knows. As far as this one is concerned, it’s just a story about characters making mountains out of molehills, and I can only roll up my eyes so many times at a book.