Kimani, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-335-47097-3
Contemporary Romance, 2019
Alia Joie Youngblood’s husband, Adam Braithwaite, is MIA for two years now. He is a researcher that worked on a covert project in Dubai when he and some colleagues were kidnapped. Well, just around her birthday, our heroine gets a shocking phone call. Her husband is coming home at last!
Wait, there has to be a mistake. His Christmas Gift isn’t about a woman who started a job only to shag the boss instead, and I don’t see any opening chapter that takes place during the wedding of a couple from a previous story. Wait, the heroine doesn’t go to some tropical island to sleep with some guy who will later turn out to be her new boss! How come there’s no story of a couple who broke up after high school only to meet again when the hero comes back to his small town? This isn’t right! Are we sure that this is a Kimani story?
Having said that, this story doesn’t quite capitalize on its oh-so-unique-for-a-Kimani premise either. Alia and Adam are likable, sensible sorts – if you’ve read anything by this author before, you’ll know what I mean when I say that these are fine folks without any particular objectionable traits. Nice people, really. The story is easy to digest, nicely paced, and all in all very readable.
It’s just that there isn’t anything much happening here, so two people and their support network getting together so that Alia and Adam can recapture their romance that was so rudely interrupted by those terrorists. Normally, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but given the premise of this story, I’m hoping that… well, this may seem cruel of me, but I wish Adam has a harder time coming back to normalcy. I wish his PTSD is a bit more severe than not being able to get his friend up in order to say hello to the wife (don’t worry, he’ll get better – much better). I wish there were more “I can’t talk to you anymore!” kind of frustration and wailing, because without a strong and dramatic conflict to keep things interesting, this one soon settles comfortably into being another cozy tale of nice people and their equally nice BFFs.
As a result, the premise feels like a huge wasted opportunity to bring on something dramatic and different. His Christmas Gift ends up being in many ways another familiar Kimani story. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I will always wish that this one had been something else, something more.