Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-1-335-21671-7
Contemporary Romance, 2018
Karma Sullivan is the owner of a posh hair salon, Beauty by Karma, and she also chokes up and cries each time she thinks of her dead mother. Seriously, at one point in this story she chokes up and goes all blank-zombie mode on people because she realizes that hero Morrison Drake shares the same birthday as her dead mother. And no, the mother’s name isn’t Martha, in case you are wondering. Her day is ruined when our hero charges into her salon making a fuss because (a) his niece works here without his knowledge, which is terrible because (b) he seems to equate Beauty by Karma to a brothel or something from how he is reacting, and when he is told that the niece does respectable cheap labor work like sweeping the floors, he insists that (c) such works are beneath a Drake.
It will be so much easier to just hire an undocumented immigrant, I tell you.
But it’s okay, Karma is starting to think that Morrison is a jerk when she realizes that he also likes Jay-Z, so this means that he is nowhere as bad as he seems. Yes, that’s her logic. I wish I’m joking or exaggerating things, but unfortunately, this is exactly as it is presented in this story. They go on a date, Karma keeps telling me that Morrison is the best thing ever, and our hero morphs into someone who is so unlike the raging asshole in the first chapter that I actually wonder for a minute whether I have accidentally picked up a different story to read without realizing it. Normally, I won’t approve of such “kidnapped by UFOs and replaced by a pod person” character development, but I don’t want to bump into that douche factory in the first chapter again, so I’m all for this. This is a guy who gives a Hermes alligator watch to a woman he has known in such a short while, so whatever Morrison’s faults are – boring, personality-free, prone to diabetes-induction gushing of love – he sure isn’t stingy when it comes to his money.
Oh, and surprise, the ex-model character turns out to be a HOOOOORRRRR. I know, I never saw that one coming. Our heroine, mind you, is heartbroken because she considers the HOOOOORRRR her family – that lady is actually just an employee, a lazy and unreliable one at that – but our heroine has issues in which she expects everyone in her life to always be there and never leaves her. This is because of her dead mommy issues, you see – her entire angst here is how she becomes a teary-eyed catatonic body bag each time she believes that someone is going to say goodbye and leave her. Seriously, everything Karma does is for her dead mother. She even wants to build up her salon because she wants to memorialize her mother with her success. This creature is not right in the head. A lot of the drama in this story could have been avoided if the heroine had gone for some counselling in the first place.
All these issues aren’t exactly one-oogie material, of course. The reason why Pleasure in His Kiss gets the single oogie is because of how badly it is put together. The author doesn’t know when to drop her incessant exposition and she ruins her story as a result.
Let’s take an example in the first chapter. Karma gets a loud fuss in her salon and she puts down her pen to investigate. She walks to the door… and starts going on some long, rambling tangent about the ex-model lady, Karma’s weight issues (not that it really matters to the plot), how her clients prefer that the salon plays classical music instead of Kanye West’s stuff… by the time she reaches the source of the commotion, I have completely forgotten about the commotion and have long stopped caring. Why does the author do this? Why does she destroy any urgency she initially sets up with meandering tangents that are better off placed elsewhere? This happens way too often in this story. Something interesting may be happening, but let’s first focus on some rambling, boring inconsequential internal monologues first because who knows what is going on anymore.
Then, there are many sentences that, when placed together, don’t make sense. Again, from the first chapter, I’m told that Karma was recommended to go to the gym and she “had burst out laughing”. But the next sentence states that she’s since started doing that. So why did she laugh again? Laughter suggests that she finds the notion of going to the gym absurd enough to be amusing, but it turns out that it isn’t. Did the author wrote the second sentence five weeks after the previous one, without rereading that previous sentence?
There are also inconsistencies galore in the characters’ logic train. Karma declares that all men can’t be trusted – even “humble, sensitive men with good reputation” – but she immediately reverses her opinion of Morrison (which is quite valid as he’s being a complete asshole in front of her) all because he likes rap music. Wait, what? How old is this woman? Six?
Also, Morrison and Karma have some of the most embarrassing “sexy talk” ever, which I can’t bear to look up much less type them out here, and I cringe when he gushes that one of the best thing about loving Karma is how she will surprise him by wanting to have sex with him everywhere and anywhere, any time and every time.
Oh, and oh yes, plot. There is a crazy ex drama that pops up abruptly in the last few chapters for the obligatory heroine in distress drama mama, the HORRRR thing, our hero’s family members cause some minor drama now and there, but on the whole, it’s all about bewildering sentences out together in often contradictory manner, meandering exposition inserted in the worst places possible to ensure that the story will never be even a little bit interesting, and two characters acting like overwrought parodies of human beings rather than the real thing. This really hasn’t been a pleasure.