Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-1-335-21650-2
Contemporary Romance, 2018
When it comes to romance stories with characters constantly agonizing about why they can’t be together, it is important for the author to come up with compelling reasons for me to care. When these characters are loaded, beautiful, and are surrounded by equally beautiful and loaded people, it is especially essential that these reasons be enough to get me to care. Call me envious, bitter, whatever, but I have little patience to deal with wealthy and hot people writhing around for over two hundred pages moaning about why they can’t be loved. #firstworldproblems and all that.
So, this brings us to Reese Ryan’s Playing with Seduction. Oh boy. It can’t be more of an “I can’t be arsed” material even if it comes in the form of an actual arse. But first, let me give a synopsis of the, ahem, “plot”.
A while back, Brianna Evans – a top beach volleyball professional player, not that it matters here since the only balls she slaps her palm against are… never mind – and playboy even promoter Wesley Adams had a thing. At least, it is a “thing” in her mind because they danced, kissed, and it was so beautiful and perfect. But when he wanted her to come with him back to his place so that she can inspect his private parts more closely, she told him – and I quote: “Sorry, but I’m not that kind of girl.” This implies, of course, all the women who put out before marriage is “that kind” – the kind that books in this line love to demonize. Naturally, he doesn’t call the next day, or the day after, despite our heroine staring at her phone like a hungry goldfish looking at a box of fish food just out of reach. Well, the joke’s on the heroine because, ever since that day, she realizes that she desperately yearns to be “that kind of girl” with Wesley.
Since then, she has resented him for “dumping her”, as if the poor guy had somehow overlooked some magical contract she expected him to sign, to hand over his penis to her forever and ever. Thus, when they meet again – he’s hoping to organize a signature tournament and she’s of course the star attraction – she basically bares her teeth at him and he’s like, okay, time out, he’s out of here. Unfortunately, he realizes that his mother desperately needs him to get that gig (don’t ask, it’s all an excuse to put the poor man into the clutches of our heroine), so he has to basically place himself on the sacrificial altar so that our heroine can finally have her man meat without feeling like a complete prostitute.
As you can guess, Brianna has some weird-creepy issues about sex that is never properly resolved here, unless by resolving you mean that she finally gets the penis she has always wanted, so I can only imagine the kind of weird complex she’d end up hammering into her children’s heads some time in the future.
Here’s the thing. She’s single. He’s single. So why aren’t they hooking up by page 100, aside from the fact that he shouldn’t stick it into crazy no matter how tasty the crazy package may be? Here is where the author comes up with all the ways to let me know that I shouldn’t care one bit. Brianna, of course, has weird hang-ups in which she can only have sex if the opportunity comes up without making me feel all prostitute-y inside. As she puts it, she’s not even a one-night stand person, although given how worked up she gets over a kiss, that’s probably for the best or the cops will eventually find a pile of decomposing corpses in her closet. As for him, oh, he can’t derail the project, he just can’t, he must be on his guard, he really likes her but he just can’t… oh for heaven’s sake, just put out or get lost already.
By the time the story lumbers into its final third, these characters are still whining about how they can’t, shouldn’t, be together and each time they do this, I can only get exasperated and think why the hell not. He’s not impotent, they are not siblings, none of them are wanted by the law or gangsters, nobody has STDs, they are all loaded and hot so WHY THE HELL ARE THEY DOING THIS? Of course, we all know it’s because Reese Ryan has to met a certain word count in her book or her editor will send a dismembered horse head to the author’s doorstep, but come on, make me care about the characters’ incessant whining at least. I don’t know, make him have some weird condition where he shoots green goo from his pee-pee, for example, or maybe she has a Siamese twin with Tourette’s syndrome growing from her buttock. What other problems will seriously put a crimp on the love lives of impossibly hot and fabulous people? Whatever they are, they aren’t here.
Of course, the author also puts in family issues and a passel of cheerleading sequel baits and BFFs all squealing that Brianna and Wesley should totally have sex until the end of time. These are staple Kimani elements, so they don’t add anything to the story. Just items in the check list to tick off so that the Kimani head editor will not beat the poor author with a wire hanger while screaming, “How dare you exclude the whores and sluts and evil mothers from MY books? HOW DARE YOU?”
Anyway, Playing with Seduction is just two people playing with themselves while bleating, “Oh, we’re such troubled people!” I just don’t care. The heroine is a certified bunny boiler, cat skinner kind of crazy. And I still don’t care because this book is so boring that its existence is pretty much pointless.