Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86409-6
Contemporary Romance, 2015
Gabrielle Royce is an executive chef at the hot high-end resort Belleza, first introduced in Yahrah St John’s Heat Wave of Desire. Both that book and Hot Summer Nights are part of the series California Desert Dreams, but they can each stand alone pretty well. Anyway, in this story, Gabrielle makes it known to all and sundry that never ‘tween her thighs shall any man get to as long as she is walking, standing, and breathing in Belleza. You see, she doesn’t believe in workplace romance – which seems sensible – and she also doesn’t want to be controlled by any man, she doesn’t want that man, or this man, or those men, or these men, and it’s all downhill from there. Her hormones want her to do the nasty with record mogul Geoffrey Girard, who is here to test things before he opens a corporate account with Belleza, but her brain is like, “No man! No man! No way, man!”
On Geoffrey’s part, it can seem like an invitation for lawsuit, what with him pressing Gabrielle for a date and telling her that he knows she wants him bad – oh, and hey, nice bra, toots – when the two of them know very well that the whole thing can be easily be construed as him asking her for sexual favors in order to “convince” him to sign the contract with her boss. But he’s like, oh, they both know she’d be riding on his donkey stick because they both want it bad, so where’s the harm? Well, do recall that he’s from the music business – maybe that’s how they do things in that industry.
The rest of the story is basically Gabrielle swinging from one extreme to another. Yes to the man, oh wait, no to the man, repeat and rinse. The thing is, she doesn’t really have much to build a case for compelling drama here. She’s single, her boss is marrying some guy she met on the job so it’s not like it is company policy to frown on workplace shags, and it’s not like Gabrielle has to sleep with him in order to help sick kids or the unicorns of the world. It’s just Gabrielle’s hormones going overdrive, urging her to give it up that boy, and her finding all kinds of excuses to moan and mope even as, at the same time, she can’t keep away from him. It’s all lip service – or in this case, it’s more like the 1800 complaint hotline – as she’s still going to give it up anyway. It’s just so dismaying that she can’t give it up happily.
As a result, it is very easy to lose interest and become distracted by other things while reading Hot Summer Nights. There isn’t much of a story here, just a neurotic sourpuss heroine constantly and repetitively trying to convince herself to stay away from the guy when everyone knows she’s too lust-addled to believe what she is saying. It’s too bad this story isn’t 200 pages shorter – it may just work better then. Whatever is present here is not strong enough to be stretched into a full-length series-sized novel.