Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86508-6
Contemporary Romance, 2017
We are back in Pleasure Cove, which, despite what the name may lead you to think, isn’t a brothel or an orgy suite, but a place where everyone is hot and rich, and whoever isn’t going to be shagging by the end of a book will be cheering for those who will be. Playing with Temptation can stand alone very well, but frankly, it doesn’t have many legs to stand on. Very little about it makes sense.
Once upon a time, Nate Johnson and Kendra Williams were in a relationship. Well, they were together long ago to have enough boinking in order to produce a plot device spawn named Kai. However, she left Nate because of all kinds of issues stemming from her father sticking it to many, many women who weren’t her mother, and thinking that Nate, a North Carolina footballer, will also be doing the same. She rejected him and left him holding a ring with no finger to put it on, in front of his family and friends to boot, and when she realized that she was pregnant, she decided that she’d be a single mother.
Today, Nate is a pro footballer, but he is in trouble because his team has been losing for a while now, and there is a viral video of him going off on his teammates. He also went off on himself, but those bits were edited out. And since this is a Kimani book, it’s all the fault of whores. Hateful, evil, blonde whores who are constantly trying to entrap him with their evil vaginas and feminine wiles; so many whores oh my god, the world is such a scary place that we are so grateful that our hero will finally find the sole blameless woman
THAT WILL BE US AND NOT THOSE SKINNY HOT SLAGS THAT STOLE ALL THE GUYS THAT WE DESPERATELY WANTED TO HAVE SEX WITH to release his love into her fiery depths without worrying about whore tricks like entrapment, child support, and alimony. His agent, who also happens to be his brother, decides that Kendra will be the best person to help sort out the PR nightmare, especially since she was the one who built Nate up in social media and the press when Nate was an upcoming star.
Now, here’s the thing. Nate resents Kendra for depriving him of a chance to be with Kai… but he never asks about that brat or even suggests that Kendra bring their spawn along when they have to make trips together. He just complains and whines, apparently because he couldn’t make any contact with that spawn all these years. Why? It’s not like she has a restraining order on him. And when he gets to spend more time with Kendra, he never asks about the kid at all. Therefore, his constant whining about never getting a chance to be a good father rings hollow and feels like it’s just the author grasping at straws to keep the drama going. Nate may say a lot about wanting to be a good father, but his actions suggest otherwise: he doesn’t really care, Kai is just an excuse for him to mope and scowl.
It’s worse with Kendra. She claims that she wants to help Nate because her son should know his father better, but watch as she tries very hard to keep them away anyway. I can only cringe when she complains that Nate just wants them to be a family again because he only cares about Kai and not her. What, so because the father doesn’t show her the love that she feels she is entitled to, even when she sends him all kinds of mixed messages 24/7, because he can’t read her mind, he is not entitled to know his own son better? Poor Kai comes off as a pawn in Kendra’s bizarre cold war with Nate – she wants him, but she doesn’t want him, no wait, she wants him, or maybe not… but how dare he doesn’t stick around when she pushes him away, clearly this is proof that he never loves her, et cetera – and I end up feeling so sorry for him because his parents are two immature bags of dingbattery that can’t figure out where their asses end and their heads begin.
And, really now, what’s stopping these two from just getting in touch like normal, sane people if they want to be a family for Kai? Have dinner together, take a trip to someplace nice… these people are all loaded, after all, so they can do all kinds of nice, expensive fun things. Thus, I’m hardly sympathetic when they do all these weird passive-aggressive games with one another with the poor boy caught in the middle.
Playing with Temptation has some charming, if occasionally poignant and sobering, glimpses into the ups and downs of playing football. These scenes, however, only underscore how reasonable and mature Nate can be when he’s around his team mates, only to turn into a whiny accordion when he’s with Kendra. Maybe he should have hooked up with one of those men instead. That story would most likely be a far more entertaining read than this mess of contradictions and illogical motivations.