Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-1-335-21683-0
Contemporary Romance, 2018
Sapphire Shores is the new filming location for the critically-acclaimed prime time soap The Shores (not to be confused with any other trashy shows with similar-sounding names, of course), and this results in a huge boom in the economy of that place. Therefore, actress Sierra Dandridge and the rest of the cast are given VIP treatment by the locals. Our hero Campbell Monroe does real estate and he is in charge of making sure that the cast and crew will not end up homeless for the duration of filming. In the process, he and Sierra fall in love, et cetera, but then
Campbell’s ego the nasty social media, the haters, the evil paparazzi, and the obligatory nasty female cast member all come together to threaten to tear them apart. What will happen to their Love for All Time?
Oh my goodness, the showbiz romance tropes come fast and hard here. Unlike the actor hero for the previous book in this Sapphire Shores series, Sierra has to live out the noble martyr role to make sure that readers who automatically equate beautiful actresses to whores of the century will like her. She is called the Ice Queen despite being quite gregarious and nice and all; apparently the title is because of the roles she tends to play. Our heroine has apparently no agent, no manager, no one to handle her finances, nothing – she just drifts around going, “Look! I’m so nice! I love everyone! Those petty haters hate me because I’m so awesome, so love me people! 100% no whore, no plastic surgery, no make up, no drug habit!”
Still, one thing the author does well here and liberally is creating a very nice relationship build-up here. The scenes shared between Sierra and Campbell have a lovely, fairy tale kind of whimsy to them – they would be right at home in some old-fashioned romantic movie, and there is a nice, cynical-free vibe to them that I find very appealing. Sure, Sierra is a boring plank devoid of any interesting quirk or personality trait because the author desperately wants to make her as inoffensive as possible, but I have to hand it to the author: she sure has something if she can make that boring plank falling in love a sweet and heartfelt emotional journey.
One thing keeps me from fully enjoying this story, though. Okay, three things – the already mentioned boring plank and the fact that the story resembles every other romance story with an actress heroine in a most uninspired, blah way are the first two things. The third thing is my increasing uneasiness with the hero’s attitude. He makes a big show about how he respects the heroine, and how he gives her space to make the first move and reach out to grasp his… love… if she wants to do the doggy on their date nights, but he also wastes no time telling her how she should do her job and how she should feel about this and that. I’m still fine with that, until I reach the “climactic moment” late in the story, when Campbell dumps Sierra because she wants to solve some stuff on her own instead letting him swoop in to take over.
Whether the author intends this to happen or not, I end up giving Campbell the side eye because this man is quite the control freak who imagines that he’s a prince charming when he just has a savior complex. He seems to expect his girlfriend to submit to his wisdom and depend on him for everything, and he gets ridiculously angry to the point of cutting her out of his life outright the moment she decides that she’s not going to be the barnacle stuck on his rear end. I’m okay with this kind of hero if the heroine turned out to be some spineless mess who needs a daddy-boyfriend to sort out her life, but I’m not sure that this kind of fellow is going to be happy married to an actress. There will be her filming schedules, gossips of his wife being intimate with other hot folks in Hollywood, and then more… he is not going to be in full control over his relationship with Sierra in the future, and I don’t think he will react well to this.
Given that I like some of Love for All Time, and feel meh about the rest, it’s only reasonable that I give this story three oogies at the end of the day.