Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-1-335-21691-5
Contemporary Romance, 2018
Boy, talk about a bad timing. In a time of #metoo, the premise of Sheryl Lister’s His Los Angeles Surprise just has to be about a “fundraiser” bachelor auction which sees women making verbal and physical sexual harassment to the male participants, with the author making it clear that the men on auction are expected to have sex with those who “rent” them. Charity prostitution, I suppose – I wonder whether that’s even legal. All this is played up for both laughs and sexual tension, and I can only image some readers being less than amused with the whole thing.
Alexis Armstrong, a former model who is also the heroine and hence isn’t a skank like every other model in a Kimani story, and Derek Moore, millionaire dude, once had a thing, and in this story, she rents him to shag him out of her system. Only, as Justin Bieber would say: baby, baby, baby ooh. Or is that “oops”? He wants to be a responsible father, but Alexis naturally refuses to be with any man that doesn’t love her. Never mind that she just slept with one without getting a ring on her finger first, mind you. And if the whole thing feels like a dumb excuse for a story to be written and sent to the editor as part of a contractual fulfillment, well, I think this is exactly what it is.
On the bright side, the story is a pretty nice fantasy of the “pain” of being wooed, comforted, pampered by a handsome and actually quite nice millionaire whose only sin is that he doesn’t tell that stupid heroine upfront that he loves her and he will promise to be able to read her mind so that he will always make her happy forever and ever. The secondary characters aren’t too intrusive for the sequel baits or pushy “Have you slept with him yet? You did? DETAILS DETAILS!” best friends that they are, and the narrative actually has a nice balance of show and tell. The dialogues here actually feel like things that people in real life may say.
Hence, it’s a shame that the romance itself feels contrived, based on an eye-rolling premise and the heroine having to play the thankless role of being the obtuse, stubborn git that keeps the drama going for contrived reasons. This one is alright, especially when compared to the recent crop in this line, but still, it retains the feel of an artificial romance that can only take place in that faraway, make-believe place called Kimani Land.