Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86457-7
Contemporary Romance, 2016
Craig Lawson is Hollywood’s darling. Our director has many awards under his belt, and he is so hot that the paparazzi actually care about his love life – which is to say, they want to know whom he is sleeping with, rather than the fact that a hot actress is sleeping with him. Hollywood is too sinful a place to set a romance in, however, so the hero goes back to the French Quarters in Louisiana to make a film based rather heavily on his family. He will meet and fall for the daughter of the owner of the house that he intends to film the movie in. She has issues to the wazoo – she used to be a sculptor in the big city, until the mean bad critics and a meaner beau went all mean on her, and our heroine runs home to brood about how she cannot – cannot – deal with memories of the life that she left behind, all dredged up by Craig being part of that world. Yes, a sculptor and a movie director move in the same circles. This is yet another story set in a romance novel version of Hollywood.
For the Love of You is, for better or worse, filled to the brim with the tropes associated with both that kind of romance and Kimani romances in general. The hero is said to be a player, but his behavior doesn’t seem very player-ly to me. He doesn’t seem to have the usual sins and fetishes associated with Hollywood. and both he and Jewel Fontaine, our heroine, stand true and strong against avarice, skankiness, and all that is unholy about those things. To give the author lots of credit, she tries to subvert the tropes. The obligatory jealous ho – you know, the actress who wears make-up and dresses sexy, eeuw – is treated with dignity and the hero actually tells her that she is talented, she just needs to believe in herself and stop being so insecure. All this is nice, but still, there is nothing here that manages to stand out as memorable. Things are familiar in many ways here, and hence, rather ho-hum.
Jewel can be quite a whining windbag here, by the way, but ultimately she gets her act together, so if you try to be patient with her, your efforts may pay off. I do like that there is some sensible epiphany and character development here, but at the same time, the character designated as the shrink-like person in that particular scene can come off too much like a preachy psychologist reading aloud from a self-help book.
In the end, I like parts of this book, and am indifferent to other parts. It’s a lot like two steps forward, and then two steps back – ultimately, For the Love of You is pleasant yet forgettable. I can take it, I can leave it; either way I can’t muster up the enthusiasm to swing one way or the other.