Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86405-8
Reading Yahrah St John’s Heat Wave of Desire is watching a film populated by a cast who were kicked out of acting school for stinking up the joint. The conversations feel stilted and false, and the author has a tendency of pass off ordinary or even mundane things as something extraordinary. On top of it all, the story is another tale of the heroine being superior to other skank hos who want a piece of the hero.
Jason Dunham is a very smart man. His family is pushing him to marry, and introduces this woman, Stephanie, to him. He doesn’t want to get married, so he does what every sane man in his position would do: date Stephanie anyway while telling her that this would be a no-strings attached affair. She and his mother spring the news to everyone that he and Stephanie are engaged, and he’s like, damn it, what’s wrong with the world that a man can’t get the milk for free anymore, ugh. So he hides in Belleza Resort as “Jack Scott” and gets involved in an affair with the general manager, Kimberly Parker. So while Stephanie is out there telling everyone that he’s a sleazy commitment-shy ho bag, he’s happily embarking on another relationship under false pretenses. I think this guy wants woman drama in his life.
Kimberly’s story isn’t as interesting. She’s a workaholic, although I see her in this story spending more time gossiping with her two BFFs who also happen to be working for her when she’s not checking out the impressive plumbing of “Jack”. She has some issues with her brother, and that’s about it. Everyone else immediately knows that Kimberly and “Jack” are meant to be, so they urge her to hump that guy ASAP. Stephanie shows up, on cue, to bring up some drama, and Kimberly starts going, oh, how sad that the guy she is in love with would rather stick it to her without putting a ring on it first. Jason realizes that he’d like to put a ring on it, so it’s happily ever after.
This is a typical story of this line, so Heat Wave of Desire is another “standard” offering from the line. However, what makes this book an awkward kind of formulaic offering is the prevalence of stilted and wooden dialogues. Kimberly and her BFFs, when they get together, often launch into monologues about things that they all should already know, before the whole thing boiling down to each of them echoing one another or the two of them just nodding to everything Kimberly says. Things get much better later in the story, especially when Kimberly is talking with her mother, but by then, the stilted and awkward conversations have left a lingering unfavorable first impression that is hard to shake off.
The author also has a tendency to overstate the virtues of her hero and heroine. Despite Kimberly’s supposed strong personality, she breaks down into tears and generally hangs on to Jason like an emotionally needy barnacle. Jason can be a charming scoundrel at times, but the author’s efforts to give him some depths doesn’t work at all.
Jack reached across the table and laid his large hand on hers. “It’s okay. Disagreements happen in families, but if the love is there, in time you’ll get over the hurt and disappointment. And who knows, your relationship might be better for it in the end.”
Kimberly stared at Jack. If anyone had told her that this sexy stranger would be so insightful, she would have told them they were a liar, but he was.
Seriously, such mawkish and superficial nonsense is supposed to “so insightful”? It makes Kimberly look really foolish to be bowled over so much by such greeting card sentiments. Things like this one are everywhere in this story. Eye-rolling clumsy insults are passed off as painful jabs, unfunny jokes as so hilarious, and so forth. All this makes the author appear to trying a little too hard to be hip and awesome when she’s actually falling short of even coming close to halfway there.
Heat Wave of Desire is normally a standard fare – nothing new, nothing memorable – but the narrative style is pretty rough and unpolished. With a few more rounds of editorial polish, it would be a very average read. As it is, well, I’d suggest giving it a miss. It’s not like there is a shortage of books with similar story lines and characters.