Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86500-0
Contemporary Romance, 2017
London Drake had a two-night shagfest with Ace Montgomery when she was 18. Don’t worry, he was 21 when that happened, so it wasn’t like our model heroine sleeping with a sleazy much older photographer or model recruiter. That was then. Much older, she meets Ace again when she’s a hot model and actress, while he was a hot former underwear model turned co-owner of a fashion house looking for the right model to be the clothes hanger for his new female line. So, among luxury and wealth and many, many secondary characters showing up to tell me that London and Ace are the most perfect couple ever and that I should also read the previously related books by this author, they shag again. Oh, and he has an ex who makes him believe that all women are cheating sluts – what a surprise, I know – so she has to prove that she’s really not like all the other beautiful women out there.
If you are already cynical and feeling bored of the Kimani formula, Lavish Loving won’t be getting you back into the groove anytime soon. It’s predictable – in a sad way – how the heroine being a beautiful and self-assured woman who has no problems making the first move on a guy she wants is immediately deemed “spoiled, entitled” by the hero, when her entire actions in this book show that she is hardly any of that sort. But that’s my problem with this story, one that is never resolved to my satisfaction: Ace immediately pegs her as “spoiled” and “entitled” minutes after they meet again, when he hardly knows what she had been up to or how she was like all those years since they last met, and apparently it’s because she… comes on to him? Is that really a bad thing?
Maybe, if he is, say, one of those conservative sorts who prefer women on the demure side… but the author also has to conform to the formula that every hero in this line has to be a playboy, so here is Ace, someone who seems bipolar when it comes to his feelings and motivations. Really, his behavior and motivations change, often without believable reason or transition, in what seems to be a need to keep the story going until the minimal word count is met. Ace doesn’t feel like a person with a coherent personality as much as he is just a plot device created by throwing together all the clichés related to romance heroes in the Kimani line nilly willy.
As for the romance, I know it is true love because secondary characters are constantly reassuring our main couple (especially the heroine) how the other person is really, really into this person. This is a lazy way to writing a romance, and I have a hard time buying that the feels are real.
And all of this is a shame because London is a rare heroine who goes after what she wants. Of course, she isn’t allowed to be like this for long. She has to conform to being a more conventional romance heroine to satisfy Ace’s Madonna/whore complex. The unfortunate implications of all this is that the only “good” woman worthy of love is someone who just sits in a corner. demurely and without any agency, until a hot guy deigns to notice her beauty and wags that thing at her. The implications are even more unfortunate when London has to somehow prove that she is still a “good” girl despite her past love life, while as usual I’m supposed to accept Ace being a playboy as something to pant after. He being a dog to other women? Those women totally deserve it – they are all whores!
Still, even if I overlook the eye-rolling double standards permeating this story, I still have to deal with the whole lifeless “Let’s just toss in all the clichés into the authorial crockpot, and just serve whatever that results!” feel of the story or how the hero is for the most part a bewildering character. I certainly have no Lavish Loving for this baby.