Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86492-8
Contemporary Romance, 2017
I’m not sure what it is about dance and romance, but Love Tango manages to capture the exuberance of falling in love amidst training and competing for a Dancing with the Stars clone called Celebrity Dance.
Roxanne Deveraux was a Hollywood hot property until she turned sixteen and emancipated herself from her stage parents from hell. She then went to lead a more quiet life, completed her education, and made a living by dabbling in genealogy. The last can bring in the money when your clients are among some of Hollywood’s richest people. Today, she is content. She has her business and she also dabbles in acting now and then, playing bit roles (usually dead bodies) in TV shows. Oddly enough, she manages to remain famous all this while despite never having any naughty scandal or sex tapes to keep the interest burning. Oh well, fiction.
She is invited by her client to participate in Celebrity Dance, and she accepts – not because she’s keen (she’s not sure that she even can dance); rather, the client is her first and therefore, Roxanne feels that she owes some of her success to this lady. Therefore, the least she can do is to lend her presence on the first season of a new competitive reality TV show.
Now, this is where the story becomes 500% fiction: the hero Nicholas Torres, her dance partner, is also the brother of the producer (the client’s husband). Now, someone being both a host and producer is fine, as a host theoretically does not participate in the competition. But Nick is right in the heat of the competition… and he’s one of the co-producers? How is this even allowed? The show opens itself to accusations of rigging and conflicts of interest by letting Nick both compete and co-produce, and yet nobody here bats an eyelid at our hero’s dual role.
If you can overlook this, then perhaps you may enjoy this one as much as me. On paper, Nick and Roxanne are so typical characters of this line. He had a crazy ex; her parents, especially her mother, are whack jobs. Nothing new to see here… or maybe there is something to see, as the author is always about cheerful little subversions that may not rock the boat but still keep things interesting. For example, Roxanne’s parents aren’t treated in the usual psychotic parents way, and Nick, despite having a crazy ex, isn’t bogged down with weird issues about the opposite sex at all. Roxanne isn’t a doormat, and she also doesn’t whine constantly about having been famous. She and Nick come off as sane and normal (well, as normal as ultra gorgeous and wealthy people can be, that is) and I really like that about them. Yes, there are some drama with the paparazzi, but it is dealt with in a mature and reasoned manner. And yes, all this normalcy and yet, the characters never come off as boring or bland. Nice!
There is plenty of time devoted to dancing, training, talking, bonding, and falling in love. Hey, these are loaded hot people – you expect them to work 9 to 5 at dead end jobs? This isn’t a bad thing, though, as Louis Armstrong would say, they have all the time in the world to show me just how exhilarating it can be to fall in love with someone who seems to know and understand you so well. Nothing more, nothing less; only love.
Now, Love Tango has a rocky first quarter or so, which has various characters frequently telling one another things that they should know already all to fill me in on things. Despite this contrived start, though, once the story finds its footing and pulls me into the main characters’ tango of romance, I have a hard time not to be swept up in the grandeur and poetry of all these feels. It puts me in the mood for love, as Bruno Tonioli is fond of saying.