Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86257-3
Contemporary Romance, 2012
In my review of Yahrah St John’s previous book Need You Now, I noted that the author didn’t show any signs that she was aware of her characters’ flaws. In Lost without You, which is related to that book, the author certainly demonstrates that she is aware of the heroine Gabrielle Burton’s shortcomings. Unfortunately, this one is only a bit better than the previous book, as much of it is still the pits.
Gabby is a perfumer who is recently hired by Adams Cosmetics. She is proud to be on board, even if it means working under Shane Adams, who had been her rival in her perfumery school. He’s better, of course, because heaven forbids a heroine to be better than the hero in anything other than giving birth, and even then it’s because the heroine wins by default as the guy doesn’t have the right equipment to do the job. Gabby soon becomes involved with Shane because his constant scowling and barking at her is just too sexy for any woman to resist. But what happens if word comes out that her father works for the competition? And that he’s forcing her to sabotage her company? Poor Gabby, she has to choose between her daddy and her boyfriend. What will it be?
Before I go on, let me say that I do not take to the author’s style of writing here. Maybe this style has served Ms St John well all this while, but I don’t like her style of telling me way too much instead of showing me what is happening. Information dumping is everywhere, and there is a heavy-handed “lecture time” feel to the proceeding as a result. For instance, when the author is telling me how the characters feel, the story ends up coming off like a relationship manual.
Shane isn’t a likable hero – in fact, he often behaves coldly and patronizingly towards Gabby, treating her as if she’s a naughty little girl instead of an adult woman that he’s in love with. I also find it puzzling how nobody seems to realize that Gabby’s father works for the hated competition. If Adams Cosmetics has been keeping close tabs on the other company, how can they overlook this relationship? And really, what is Gabby thinking to not come clean to her new boss about her father’s occupation? Naturally, when the truth is out, Gabby has to do a lot of apologizing, groveling, and begging. I don’t feel sorry for her, because she put herself in trouble all on her own.
As for Gabby, her story arc, aside from how she falls in love and loses her dignity as a result, is that she eventually realizes that her father is a useless turd. The thing is, this is so obvious to me, the reader, from the get go, thanks to the author’s tendency to tell me everything. When it takes Gabby the entire book to come to this realization, her story arc isn’t touching or heartrending. My reaction is that of impatience and exasperation. How come Gabby doesn’t have a girlfriend to smack some sense into that silly woman? Seeing Gabby run up and down like a headless chicken is not fun, because she’s digging herself a big hole in an effort to make her father happy. And predictably enough, Shane isn’t very understanding when the crap hits the fan. Then again, Shane doesn’t seem capable of showing any expression other than surly.
Lost without You is basically a story of a woman who ditches her daddy for a new daddy figure. I’m happy that Gabby realizes the right thing in the end, but I read romance novels to be entertained, not to cheer silly people on as they stumble and hobble their way to the finish line.