Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-1-335-21678-6
Contemporary Romance, 2018
One Perfect Moment sees the return of the AC Arthur of the old days, almost to top form. The author on a good day has a whimsical style that may not fit too well into the more conventional narrative structure of the romance novel, especially when Kimani transforms into a rigidly formulaic series line, but I like it. Her style reminds me of that of the late Leslie Esdaile: her stories blend inspirational stuff with romance, and sometimes, the story feels more chick-lit than romance. But that’s alright if the story is fine. This one… well, it’s okay, but it’s still held back by some done-to-death make-it-stop elements.
This is part of a series, and I’d have best explain the premise first to folks who are new to the whole thing, as the premise is tied closely to the plot of this one. About thirty years ago, before Jon & Kate Plus 8, there was The Taylors of Temptation. Instead of eight brats, the Taylors had seven, but the story would be familiar to those who followed the story of the Gosselins: the father cheated on the mother, and the mother and the kids had to go on by themselves. Well, the series focus on the kids who are now all grown-up into the usual “hot, super successful, and look at my money, bitches” mold, and this is hot doctor Gage Taylor’s story.
When the story opens, Ava Taylor our TV producer heroine is boinking Gage, who is the medical advisor on her crime drama TV series. When the show wraps up, they go separate ways… until Ava’s bosses decide that they want a reality show next and Ava will make that happen. No, not just any other reality TV show, they want The Taylors of Temptation: Remember the Times. Why anyone will want a reunion of folks on a show even Ava doesn’t recall, I have no idea, as it’s not like the kids grew up to become cult leaders, serial killers, or anything like that, but hey, plot. Conveniently enough, Gage’s paw prints are still warm all over Ava’s posterior, so it’s not like she has to look too far to find one of the Taylors. So off she goes to Temptation, supposedly for a writer’s retreat (why a producer needs to go to one, I have no idea), and before long, she’s back to going ooh-ah-ah with Greg even as everyone there adores her. How on earth is she going to tell him the real reason she’s here in Temptation?
And yes, the story plays out exactly as you think it will. It’s almost reassuring to know that it doesn’t matter whether the heroine is in TV or writing for some paper – the story will always play out the same way to the predictable denouement.
Let’s start with the good things first. Ava is a character that is solely defined by how much her mother gives her the blues – oh, another one – but unlike those other heroines with mommy issues, she channels her angst into being better than her mother. No victim showcase from her, she’s far more interested in being sensible. Even when Gage is like “Out! Out! Out!” she still keeps a clear head instead of bursting her tears and running off like some wounded doe pursued by a dozen Elmer Fudds during hunting season. I like her.
Also, there are some good, romantic scenes here. It seems like the author has found some of her mojo back for this story, as there are some lovely turns of phrases and well set-up scenes that have me thinking, “Ooh, this is actually quite poetic.”
But there lies one issue I have with this story: scenes aside, when taken as a whole One Perfect Moment is actually a distant, choppy story. The story can jump a few weeks ahead from chapter to chapter in an abrupt way that makes me feel like I’m being pushed to move faster towards the exit. This feeling of urgency clashes with the slow pace of the story itself, making me wonder why there is even a need for such time skips in the first place. If you have read any of this author’s books before, you will know that she likes to make her characters yak a lot. It’s the same here, and she also loves to go into extraneous details in great length that often take up precious space that could have been used to flesh out the romance more. As a result, Ava and Gage go from lukewarm to “We’re having sex now, wheee!” to lukewarm again in ways that seem abrupt and even inconsistent, mostly because everyone spends so much time talking about everything and anything but the most important matters – so much so that when they eventually do something, I have no idea why they would act that way. Pair this kind of abruptness with the abrupt time skips and the story can feel choppy indeed.
And let’s face it: Gage is super successful to the point that he has his own yacht on top of his big house and money and what not, and he is practically untouchable at his job (take that, jealous bosses). So, it’s really hard to care about the guy’s angst of having too many ho-bags throwing themselves at him because he is so hot and successful. Oh, if only we are all suffering in that same way.
Oh, and I am confused by Ava’s job. What is she supposed to be again? She writes the screenplay of her shows as well as… scout the talent, assemble the whole thing, and more. She’s the executive producer, producer, screenwriter, casting executive, and who knows what else all at the same time. What is this? She is proud of being one of the few successful women in her field, but looking at her many responsibilities, I wonder whether she is being exploited into doing everything. How much is her salary again? Don’t they have unions to prevent such exploitation? She’d probably handle the catering and man the cameras too for all I know. I mean, she was giving free sexy times to the medical advisor on her previous TV show, so…
In the end, One Perfect Moment is alright. There are some good things here, just as there are some not-so-good things, so everything evens out in the end.