KImani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86399-0
Contemporary Romance, 2015
If you believe that there is no good romantic suspense story unless it’s all about dysfunction, you’re in for a treat. Bindi Paxton, the heroine, was the dumped fiancée of the hero Santino Franco’s father. Incidentally, Santino’s father is Alessandro. The whole family loves the letter “O”. Anyway, Previously, Alessandro did many naughty things and was forced to go MIA, among which he hired someone to injure Santino – his own son! – so badly that Santino, the NFL footballer, was forced to withdraw from that season, all just to fix a match. Santino still holds a grudge, and he’d like to see his father face justice, so if this means he has to track down Bindi, whose breasts have dazzled him since the first time he saw those breasts, so be it. Will Santino and Bindi’s breasts have a happily ever after in spite of all this mess?
The best way for me to describe Lisa Marie Perry’s Mine Tonight is that it is a romantic suspense story cobbled together from stereotypes. Bindi and Santino have the same issues shared by many characters in other stories, especially those in this line, and they even react the same, predictable ways to these issues. But the problem is compounded by the author’s efforts to make Bindi somehow “nice” by telling me repeatedly that Bindi didn’t sleep with Alessandro. That’s a good thing, see, and Alessandro even calls Bindi “pure” because of her “holding out”.
While it’s nice that the author wants to believe that the lack of penetration is the sign that all is right when it comes to Bindi’s morality, it does not address a far worse problem with Bindi’s background story: her complete lack of clue when it comes to Alessandro. In this story, she would think back on some of the more suspicious things that Alessandro made her do or used her to carry out, and she’d go, “Oh, why didn’t I see it then?” It’s really unfortunate that the author believes that my main issue with Bindi would be her wanting to marry an older man and hence, keeping his penis away from her would make everything right. Give me more credit than that, please – Bindi and an older man is not an issue at all. The issue here is the author’s efforts to force Bindi to be “nice” and “moral” in spite of the mess she’s in, by keeping her ignorant of the sins around her – these efforts only cause poor Bindi to appear extra stupid, and I don’t believe stupidity and virtue is one and the same.
Santino is far nicer to Bindi than I’d expect him to be, and Bindi isn’t as dumb when it comes to him as I’d feared. But the damage is done – the entire premise that stands between them is hard to believe because of the author’s efforts to ensure that Bindi remains pure and pristine despite the mess the author puts her in. Also, the suspense elements eventually steal the story away from the romance. Not that the suspense is that good, since the author often falls back on the “main male characters can do anything in every situation even if it makes no sense” tropes a little too often for my liking, but Alessandro ends up being a far more interesting character than both Bindi and Santino. Is that intentional? I can’t tell, given how much of a mess the author made of the rest of the story. Here’s the thing: I actually find it easy to believe why any lady would fall for Alessandro. He has his charms (especially when compared to his grouchy rhinoceros of a son). If the author has allowed Bindi to fall in and out of love with Alessandro more believably, this story would have worked so, so, so much better.
Anyway, Mine Tonight doesn’t work because the author crippled herself from the get go by relying on implausible contrivances to make her characters “likable”, and these contrivances create a ripple that continues throughout the entire story. If only the author hadn’t been so fixated on keeping the heroine “pure”, sigh, especially when all her efforts are wasted when Bindi then puts out to Santino without much of a fight because he’s too hot or something like that. File this book as a textbook example of how an author can kill her own story using self-inflicted injuries.