Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86360-0
Contemporary Romance, 2014
Megan Chase co-owns an interior decorating firm while Steven Monroe hopes to win a seat at the US Senate. Their jobs are important, I guess, to make up for the fact that their personalities are so generic that they could be replaced halfway through the story by cardboard cut-outs of random models from a beauty magazine and nobody would notice anything amiss. It’s not like their jobs actually matter in the long run once the hero’s “I need a wholesome chick to ensure that the people who are voting for me wouldn’t think of me that much as a player” plot device has been set.
Even then, that is actually a half-baked attempt at creating a conflict. These two meet and feel an attraction between them, and it just happens that Steven needs to clean up his image too, so it’s not like he’s forcing a fake marriage or anything like that on Megan. While that is normally a plus, the fact that this angle needs to come up feels like an unnecessary effort on the author’s part to highlight the fact that Megan is somehow “the pure one” that would cleanse all the filth gathered on his pee-pee from his misguided excursions into other women.
Thus, you may be wondering at this point, what the plot of Her Perfect Candidate is. Well, I’m not sure about the plot, to be honest. This story is basically a dull and flat mostly-told, rarely-shown blow by blow of these two’s interactions as they supposedly fall in love even more, punctuated by the heroine’s bewildering insistence that he is out of her league and she is just not worthy, and sequel baits sharing their background stories with me so that I would be eager to buy their books (snort). What passes for some conflict shows up in the late part of the book, when the heroine believes something she reads in the tabloid and insists that Steven is a lying son of a bitch who should die, right before she falls back into his arms after she sulks and pouts for a few months. It’s all so riveting.
But the dullness of the story aside, a bigger problem here is how mismatched the couple comes off as by the last page. Megan is very needy – she gets paranoid and antsy when Steven answers a call during their date because she is certain that he is “ignoring” her, for example. Despite the fact that she is gorgeous and successful, she has some contrived self-esteem issues that only underscores how much she relies on her boyfriend to bolster her confidence. She’s also quite gullible when it comes to men. When she hears that Steven is an infamous playboy, for instance, she thinks about how he makes her feel like she’s the only one that matters in his eyes and wonders how a playboy can be so sweet and nice like that. Seriously, darling? If this woman gets this worked up just dating Steven, what happens when his career takes him further down the path to Washington, DC? She’d probably have a mental breakdown and have to be locked up in a basement to avoid bringing shame to her husband, perhaps?
As for Steven, I don’t know why the author makes him a politician when she has no intention of having Steven show any political acumen whatsoever. That guy wins his seat just because he’s the hero of this story and therefore he has to win. Throughout the story, he shows no interest in politics and spends more time listening to his family members as they nag him about getting a girlfriend and showing everyone he’s now a one-woman guy. While I understand that having Steven being the CEO of a frozen produce company may not be as romantic, making him a politician is a big mistake and letting him win is a bigger one because that guy never earns his stripes here. He seems to get where he is due to machinations of his family members. That’s not exactly the kind of guy that makes me go, “Oh, that’s so dreamy!”
Her Perfect Candidate is constructed from practically every Kimani trope in existence. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it is done well and the author injects enough of her own personal style and flavor into the narrative to keep things interesting. Here, however, the couple feels wrong for one another, many of the tropes used here end up working against the premise and the characters, and the narrative is inanimate. This book is really boring.