Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86496-6
Contemporary Romance, 2017
The cover art of Serenity King’s Love Me Forever is simple, yet sweet and romantic. The story, however, is a different story. Serenity King is not a new author – she has quite a number of self published titles to her credit – so I’m quite startled by how amateurish the whole thing is.
Jarred Manning is a corporate attorney working for the family business, which is so big that it can be hard to tell which one is bigger, our hero’s bank account or his pee-pee. Alas, his father bought a failing company before retiring, and it is up to poor Jared to fix up the mess. Somehow, this leads to him dating the daughter of the dude whose company his father bought, Nevealise Tempest. Yes, that’s her name, and she’s a singer, not a porn star or a brand of skin lotion like the name may suggest. She became a singer to show her father that she can be independent and capable too, after she learned all the tech stuff to please her father only to learn that he had no intentions to making her the new boss anytime soon. Oh, and Nevealise also had a crush on Jarred from way back, but she was a plain fudge back and now she’s hot. But is he doing those things to her because she is now hot or because of the company or some other absurd reason that the author can come up with?
Oh, and late into the story, the hero suddenly decides that the heroine is a whore-like creature because she is bring all the boys to the yard. After all, there is nothing like a last minute control freak jealous monster tendency to convince me that the couple will have a happily ever after, especially when the heroine is so desperately, pathetically in love with him that she blames herself from everything that goes wrong. I mean, when he accuses her of being a whorey whore, instead of giving him the finger and ask him to choke on his double standards, she acts like she has lost him forever. And when he wants her back, she acts like a grateful twit. Oh yes, this is going to be a convincing couple for the long haul, especially when the relationship is so clumsily done that it’s all lust rather than believable romance.
The clumsiness is due to three things.
One, the author tells rather than shows way too much here, so I get all kinds of behavioural inconsistencies and back-and-forth from these characters without understanding why they do these things. These characters never feel like real people, therefore, just puppets going this way or that based on what kind of conflict that is needed to keep the sad show going. It also doesn’t help that Jerred and Nevealise – ugh, I have to double check the spelling of her name each time I have to type it – are clumsy stereotypes cobbled together from all the tired, played out tropes associated with romance heroes and heroes. He is commitment shy, has Madonna/whore complex, loaded, blah blah blah; she may be sexy now but she’s practically a virgin, she has no time for anything, daddy issues to the wazoo, wah wah wah – seriously, these are the same old, same old, only done in a clumsier and more inelegant way than I’d have liked.
Two, the author seems to have no idea what to put into her story, so she pads things up with constant repetitions. For example, Jarred will talk about how his father bought that blasted company and all the problems that come with it, and later on Nevealise will bring up the same points from her point of view. It’s like this for practically the whole book: the same things get rehashed so many times, I don’t know why. The things they keep bleating about aren’t even interesting, just the same old trope points being hammered into my head again and again. This isn’t a long story, but if I strike out all those repetitive monologues and whining on everyone’s part, it would be an ever shorter story of the “Hello there, sex, WHOOOORE!, okay everyone happy now, the end!” variety.
And three, my goodness, the author seems to stop caring about the story after she’s got my money, as in the very first chapter itself, she is trotting out Jarred’s brothers and hitting me in the heads with these sequel baits’ back stories. There is also a very annoying and obvious hint of the book revolving around the youngest and sluttiest brother, whose heart was once broken so his story will most likely feature that heartbreaker reuniting with him. In the first chapter! And these brothers don’t even play a big part in the plot! They just keep showing up each time to sneer, act slutty, and remind me to buy their books in the future because slutty men are so hot when you know their female counterparts would be excoriated and burned at the cross with extreme prejudice.
Fairly or not, I get this impression that the author’s heart is no longer in the story once she knows that she’s had my money – she’s more interested in selling me the next books even from the first chapter of this book. And come on, while this method works for drug dealers, at least they reel me in after I’ve experienced the high of their introductory “discounted to a special price” offering. I haven’t even started the party here, when the author is already telling me that I must get my next fix from her. If the author wants me to get my fix only from her, she needs to do more than just tell me, look, two slutty penises will get the next books, so I must go buy them all. I’m not that desperate or running out of options, darling.
At any rate, Love Me Forever alternates between being a showcase of laborious, pained storytelling and being an eye-rolling, even desperate advertisement of the author’s determination to get more of my money. Surely she can do better, just like I deserve better.