Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-10335-21656-4
Contemporary Romance, 2018
Holy cow, Lindsay Evans managed to convince Kimani to let her do something different from other Kimani stories out there! On-Air Passion isn’t about a jilted woman finding love while vacationing in the West Indies or some jumped-up personal assistant with a ceremonial title (thanks, CEO Daddy!) bumping uglies with the hot boss, all the while the evil mom from hag hell looks on disapprovingly – no, this one is a different ballgame for once.
Ahmed Clark is a former basketball star who is now the host of a popular radio show. One day, Gabrielle Marshall becomes a guest on his show to do a Valentine’s Day promotion for her business, Romance Perfected (she organizes romantic dates for clients), and his cynicism about love can’t help coming out. The two of them end up going at it in a passive-aggressive manner that, for some reason, enthralls the listeners of the show. So much so that the listener who wins a free date arranged by Romance Perfected insists on giving the gift back to Elle so that she can date Ahmed, and the radio show boss is all for it. I tell you, people in Atlanta must be very much in need of entertainment on that day. At any rate, the date will be good for her business and his show, as any publicity is good publicity, so they reluctantly go for it. Surprisingly, they discover they actually get along very well…
Will you be surprised to know that Romance Perfected is operating in the red? I know, a business by a romance heroine that is barely together, how shocking. Do you know that Ahmed had been burned by so many women of ill repute in his past that he refuses to believe that love exists? Never come across such a hero before! And let’s be honest here: a hot, wealthy guy with all his limbs intact and functional, whose only angst is that women in the past wanted him because he was rich and famous, is not the most interesting kind of fellow to base an entire conflict of a story around.
However, On-Air Passion works very well because of the chemistry between the main characters. Alas, this is another story which sees the author keeping things on the tame side, but the chemistry is palpable. The author uses conversations and scenes of little moments to create a charming tableau of two people who are trying very hard to keep things on the fun and not-so-serious side, only they are actually falling in love.
Also, I know I’ve been moaning quite a bit – okay, a lot – about authors in the Kimani line who feel this need to spell everything out to the readers in a dry textbook manner, but the author strikes a nice balance between show and tell here.
“Oh.” Shaye curved her lips into her favorite smile. Pleased and happily exhausted. “It’s just fun. Sex is easy. It’s the other stuff’s that hard.”
See, just nice and simple. There is no need to go into long, rambling run-on sentences about what this Shaye lady is feeling. Her words and action paint a vivid enough picture in that short snippet.
And then, just when things are going well, the author brings out the ever-fresh and never-used-before plot device of – da-da-dum – the sexually aggressive harlot that is meant as a foil to the heroine. This is the worst thing an author can do to somehow convince the hero that, sure, all women are whores but look, the heroine is different. Never mind the misogynistic overtone of such a development; my main issue is just how played out, unimaginative, and lazy this one is. The evil whore thing shows up in so many Kimani stories these days, it’s like their chief editor had some kind of fetish for such a plot device and insisted that it should be included in every story or else! Worse, this plot device isn’t even necessary here – the story is going well until that thing shows up and my enthusiasm for the story plummets straight down to zero.
Fortunately, that thing is soon shoved out of the story, but my enthusiasm for the story never recovers to its former level.
The moral of the day, I suppose, is to bring out the lazily done whores and hags more sparingly, preferably only when the author is grasping at straws to come up with any other more interesting alternative. On-Air Passion certainly doesn’t need such a cliché, and the fact that it shows up – even if for a short while – really ruins my mood.