Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86498-0
Contemporary Romance, 2017
I pulled Sheryl Lister’s Giving My All to You from my pile of unread books because, for something from the Kimani line, thank the lord that the back cover synopsis for once does not mention reunions, jilted women running off to some resort to sleep with the owner, and other oh-so-played out clichés. I don’t regret wanting something different from a change, but god, do I wish the author had done better. So, so much better.
Faith Alexander is thirty, as she for some reason sees this need to remind her friend when they both should know their ages. She receives letters and photos from a mysterious person… and she quickly realizes that it is from her long-lost father! Why the father can’t meet her personally, don’t ask me. As you shall soon see, everything about this story feels contrived, with actions and motivations arising only to get the plot going even if they make little sense. Despite apparently having a pretty decent mother and stepfather, she immediately flies into an emotional rage, accuses her mother of daring to LIE to her ALL HER LIFE even after her mother told her that her father suffered from severe PTSD that made living with him very difficult, dumps her family and runs off to find her father. Oh, and while her mother is UGH for lying to her, her stepfather is still okay, because heaven forbid a good woman in a romance novel ever dare to find fault with a man. The penis is very important in the romance genre, you know – we can’t afford to alienate the man that is attached to that very important thing!
As she goes off, she gets involved in a bad car accident and is rescued by our hero Brandon Gray. And while he and she start to make eyes at one another, she learns that her father – who turns out not to be a Satanic worshipper wanting to sacrifice his offspring for riches and power untold, much to my disappointment – is one of the two bosses that run the company that Brandon hopes to become the CEO of. Her father wants to make her the Vice-President, and Brandon is like, WTF, some nobody coming in to be VP GTFO deport that SOB we need a wall STAT while not knowing that his girlfriend is the one who will be doing that VP thing. Faith goes, ooh, how to choose, pee-pee or VP, oh the dilemma.
Yes, a woman who shows little interest and has zero experience in running any big conglomerate getting to be VP just because Daddy hosed Mommy with baby goo at the right time of the month. Does the author really want me to root for such nepotism? She could have at least made Faith a shrewd and very successful CEO or something to make her promotion palatable, so I don’t know what the author is thinking.
Then again, the whole story suggests that the author was only thinking of ways to create drama when she wrote the whole thing. Characters behave in ways solely to create conflict or tension even if doing so makes no sense or is out of that person’s character. Faith is a nutjob, reacting in over the top ways from hysterical accusations to loud, blubbery tears to every situation she is in, and yet, other characters have to tiptoe around her and the hero has to do the cajoling in the end because being an emotional trainwreck is a virtue now. Conversations feel very stilted and fake, as if these characters are all aliens in disguise, having learned their mannerisms from sitcoms in order to mask their presence among human beings.
Add in the usual weaknesses that plague a below average Kimani book – scenes focusing too much on mundane minutiae like what the characters are eating, breaking off the momentum of a scene to introduce sequel baits that have little impact on the overall story, too much telling over showing (the characters here love to narrate their thoughts and feelings out loud to another another) – and this one is a long, dreary slog of a read that feels artificially constructed from start to finish.
The only all I am giving Giving My All to You is this big fat oogie.