Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86264-1
Romantic Suspense, 2012
Heart to Heart is the final book in the Harts in Love trilogy, but I think it can stand alone. Sure, the books are meant to be read in a chronological order, as there is a developing story line about the Hart sisters discovering the reason why their mother left them in the care of their aunt and possibly her current whereabouts. But I read these books out of order and I can understand the events in these books just fine.
In this one, Deanna Hart is a singer who isn’t sure what she wants to do anymore after breaking up with an abusive producer. When her aunt died, she came home to Cleveland where she eventually made peace with her estranged sisters. Love is around the corner, however. When her nephew asks her to show up at the school to speak in his class about being a singer, she bumps into the principal Eric Bell. Eric’s brother was Deanna’s high school boyfriend, at least until her sister slept with the guy, heh. Eric has always carried a torch for Deanna, so perhaps it is time for him to make a move.
This story is an odd one. The romance should have some interesting drama, given the history between Eric and Deanna, but the author swept the potentially messy stuff under the carpet, so to speak. Instead, the romance is full of filler scenes consisting of our characters killing time by meandering around each other or hanging out with friends and family members. Deanna and Eric are pretty much kissing and more the moment they meet, so there is no decent build-up in the relationship. From the start, they are ready to go at it, but then, things just slow down and nothing much really happens in the romance department.
The author seems more interested in resolving the mystery of the MIA mother. For a while, this is an intriguing case, making up for the uninteresting romance. But the resolution is so over the top ridiculous, I can only laugh in disbelief. The mother went MIA for ten years… for that? What, she can’t get help anywhere? It’s not like the villain is the Mafia boss of all Mafias, he’s just some crazy violent crackpot. Seriously, the whole thing is out of this blue bizarre, it almost makes the whole trilogy look like a Looney Tunes cartoon in hindsight.
But I have to say, the MIA-mother thing is interesting while it lasted, at least until the author reveals the denouement and I start laughing for all the wrong reasons.
Heart to Heart is actually a missed opportunity, as the romance turns out to be lukewarm and drab to the point that it’s almost like an afterthought to the whole “Where’s my mother?” shenanigans. If this book is entertaining, it’s because of the over the top soap opera elements of that particular subplot. I can only wonder whether it’s the author’s intention to deliver the goods in such a campy and ridiculous style. Something tells me the answer is probably no.