Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86435-5
Contemporary Romance, 2016
Rose Beharie needs a fake boyfriend. That’s right, you guessed it – there is a reunion party looming. Her law school reunion, to be exact. You see, her ex-boyfriend is going to be on the same panel as her. That douchebag has married, so if she shows up single, people will say that she has not moved on from him. When she learns that his pregnant wife may be showing up with him, getting a hot, sexy boyfriend is now imperative.
Meanwhile, Donovan Carroll needs a lawyer. He is the president of a homeless shelter, and a pawn shop is moving into the same block as the shelter. If you ask him, a pawn shop is a magnet for sleazy types coming in to get rid of things that they do not come to possess through legal channels, so this will only bring bad things to the people in the shelter.
As you can see, these two are just perfect for one another. However, Rose initially believes that Donovan is too hot, and therefore, despite the fact that she wants a guy hotter than the sun as her reunion date, he is not the guy for her. Still, there will be no story if she gets her way, so in the end, he offers to be her date if she’d offer her lawyerly services free of charge to halt the opening of the pawn shop. If you ask me, he’s getting the better end of the deal – she could have just ordered an escort from an online agency if she needs a hot guy that much.
Of course, they fall in love, blah blah blah.
Passion Play has some fine chemistry, despite what my unenthusiastic tone so far may lead you to believe, and the characters here have a great dynamic going. There are some fun scenes between Rose and her sisters, Donovan and his buddies, and, of course, Donovan and Rose. The relationships between sisters and friends feel pretty real and solid, and, despite the occasional hackneyed-sounding “Let me drip heavy-handed words of wisdom” lines here and there, conversations on the whole feel natural and have a certain charm to the whole thing.
It’s a shame, therefore, that the romance is such a by-the-numbers affair that I have a hard time remembering much of it, despite the author’s engaging writing style. In fact, the only noteworthy trait of it is that it’s a lot like every other fake boyfriend story I’ve read many, many times before. The author sets up a very believable premise for Rose to get a fake boyfriend, but the way the whole thing plays out is too predictable and forgettable. Rose’s one-dimensional trust issues about men lead her to play hard to get, and when she decides that she wants to get caught by Donovan, oh no, she needs to break what is supposed to be a business arrangement off because the feels would only break her heart again, blah blah blah – it’s the same old song and dance, and the author’s handling of it here never feels fresh or inspired. It’s like eating the same old dish I’ve eaten many times before – it’s hard not to feel that I’m just reading in a going through the motions manner.
All in all, this is a well-written kind of comfort read. I’m okay with it, I just wish the author had done something more to make it stick to my mind longer.