Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86431-7
Contemporary Romance, 2015
Phyllis Bourne continues to deliver feel-good romantic comedy that works with Heated Moments. This is set in a small town, and while I am not convinced that staying in Cooper’s Place is the way to be, the romance feels very right.
Lola Gray is a model who was the face of Espresso Cosmetics, the family business. Was, because she has just been
fired replaced by her own family with a drag queen. Lola is naturally not pleased, especially since her modeling career had been affected by her relationship with Espresso Cosmetics. Previously, the brand was known as an “old woman’s thing”, so Lola’s modeling career saw her ending up in “old people’s thing”, typically as the hot chick snuggling up to an old coot in an advertisement for erectile dysfunction pills and the sweet babe on posters selling things aimed as post-menopausal women. Our heroine decides to flounce from the family, although she is not sure what she wants to do next. Fortunately, her agent has a plum gig that could steer Lola’s career down the right path and make her trendy again, provided that she can be in LA on Monday for the casting call.
Driving over the weekend and taking a detour prove to be a mistake, however, when Lola is stopped for speeding and, when she accidentally pricks her finger while looking for her ID in her big bag, the sight of the blood causes the cop to faint right there on the road. She hauls the cop to the nearest hospital, and is then held for questioning by the local police chief, Dylan Cooper. He’s strapping. hot. sweet, and nice all over, so perhaps this detour may not be that much of a mistake after all.
Lola has a reputation for being a diva and troublemaker, but it turns out that she’s just the kind of lady whose impulsiveness and hot-headed nature land her in public scenes when her intentions are actually good. Unfortunately, the people around her assume that she is immature and it is only a matter of time before they have to fix her mess, and in a way, she has come to believe this herself. So, it is an eye-opener of sorts – the good sort – when she meets Dylan, who treats her like an adult, even after learning of her drama-prone public image, He lets her make her own decisions instead of stepping in and doing it for her, and he even tells her that he likes her as she is – she doesn’t have to change or be a “better” person just for him.
On his part, Dylan comes back to take care of his elderly mother, and while this move costs him his previous marriage, he feels that he has done the right thing. Living in Cooper’s Place is a welcome change from dealing with the crimes and what not in the big city. However, Lola’s presence disrupts the peace pretty considerably. But that’s okay, it turns out that he doesn’t mind at all.
Dylan isn’t too deep as a character – he’s just a very nice guy – but he’s the perfect fellow for Lola. He seems to get that she is looking for someone who believes in her, after all. Lola has a bit more character development here, and I love the fact that she gets to learn and embrace her strengths as part of her character development instead of being forced to change into a completely different person or be humiliated for her attitude or actions. This is not a book by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, clearly! Lola’s character development feels like an organic and oh-so-right arc instead of some soapbox on how virtuous women should behave. In fact, the author even restrained herself from being too heavy-handed with the whole “models should eat more beef” thing that romance authors seem to love shoving down their readers’ throats whenever they have a model in their stories.
Another plus to the story is that Dylan and Lola have a most adorable kind of chemistry here – they are funny, they make one another laugh, and I find myself laughing too with them.
The secondary cast provide some entertaining comedy. But there are also moments when I feel that they go way too far and enter creepy clown territory with their intrusive antics. The author realizes this – she has Dylan pointing this out to Lola now and then – but her heavy-handed way of “redeeming” those creepy intrusive refugees from Salem’s Lot doesn’t quite work with me. The thought of living with these people could very well be the premise of a horror movie.
Still, the creepy small town people of the corn don’t hamper my enjoyment of the main couple and their oh-so-cute romance. Even when the romance takes place over a ridiculously short period of time, I think I buy it. Lola and Dylan really do feel, act, and behave like two fools who are really besotted with one another. Heated Moments can really bring on the sizzle, and thank goodness for that.