Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-1-335-21651-9
Contemporary Romance, 2018
Comedy can be hard to pull off, but it is the strongest virtue of Elle Wright’s It’s Always Been You. The author has been around for a while, but this is her debut effort with Kimani, and judging from this one, she’s already learning the tropes well. Good thing that this story has its entertaining moments, therefore, as it is for the most part something that a reader of this line has come across so many times before.
Dr Lovely Grace Washington and Dr Drake Jackson are both good buddies for a long time now. This friendship takes a spin into complicated valley when they both wake up at the start of the story naked together in bed. In Vegas. Despite being medical professionals, both are hard-pressed to figure out whether they’d had sex, despite the fact that none had showered beforehand. It is only when she discovers a small trickle of blood on the bed that they realize that oh god, they probably had sex after all. Let’s just imagine that biology and one’s sense of everything work differently in the universe in which this story is set in and leave it at that.
Worse, they soon realize that they’d gotten hitched the night before – they are in Vegas, after all – and Drake even bought a $15,000 ring for the occasion.
Worse, her mother stumbles upon them, and realizes that those two are married when a helpful staff brings up the receipt of the ring and the complimentary upgrade to honeymoon suite to them in front of her. Now, there is hardly any hope of them annulling the whole thing quietly, not when the parents are on board. Add in the typical, overdone plot device of her parents secretly springing her jerk of an ex on her because of plot, and the whole thing quickly spirals out of control.
The author serves up humorous banters and scenarios with such ease that makes her seem like a natural, and because of this, It’s Always Been You is a chuckle-inducing read most of the time. Various scenarios and relationship conflicts in this story will feel very familiar to long-time readers of this line, because the author barely does anything to make these elements feel even little fresh or interesting, but she also makes them funny. In the end, I can’t really complain too much when I am entertained.
However, the comedy comes at the expense of coherent characterization. The author twists and distorts her characters often just to bring on the funny, and as a result, Drake and Love say and do things for plot and comedy purposes rather than because they are people in their own right. One moment they are rational and in control of a situation, but a few pages down the road, these two will morph into immature, overly emotional characters with no control over their impulses before becoming sensible sorts again another few pages later. They are in love, no they are not, yes they are, no they aren’t – and so forth. I can only smile and chuckle so much before I start wishing for a little more consistency in the story.
Anyway, It’s Always Been You is alright to kill some time, but it also feels like a wasted opportunity. The author has a vivacious kind of humor and her comedic timing is also often impeccable. It’s a shame that humor is all there is to keep this story afloat – everything else about it is, at best, forgettable and, at worst, mildly exasperating to follow.