Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86416-4
Romantic Suspense, 2015
It is always nice to see a new author in the Kimani line, as it is really starting to feel as if the same ten authors show up every month on a regular rotation basis. Martha Kennerson’s Protecting the Heiress, however, is basically a rehash of all the usual tropes that pepper this line. The problem here is that the rehash is done in a dull manner.
When the story opens, the author has the various secondary characters practically line up before heroine Francine Blake to compliment her. Don’t you know, she’s not only the CEO of a big. big business, she also is universally beloved and, furthermore, she is hot enough to become a supermodel if she feels like doing so! I can only roll up my eyes when the author lays down the heroine’s perfection this thickly. Unfortunately, Francine soon turns out to be a list of amazing virtues rather than a coherent personality: she knows martial arts like a super ninja, is trained in firearms like she’s in the GI Joe, she is so hot to trot, she is said to be intelligent, witty, amazing, blah blah blah… The only good thing that I can say about her is that she doesn’t do anything that strikes me as really against what the author is trying to sell her as. On the other hand, such perfection makes for a pretty blah heroine, because she’s so good in everything, there is hardly any suspense left in this story.
Also, I have to wonder. Francine is the CEO of a “twenty-five year old multibillion-dollar international security firm and private detective agency” – so what is she doing, running around doing field work and getting shot at? It’s not like this is a one-woman operation – doesn’t she have other things to do, like overseeing the thousand and one management concerns that come with being a CEO? I don’t see her having any contingency plan – so what happens if a piano falls on her one day while she’s busy being Karen Sisco and she dies? What will happen to the company?
The unfortunate supposition from all this is that she’s probably a puppet CEO, raised to the top mostly because it is the family business, and the poor “filthy outsiders” are the ones who have to run the company while Francine gets all the glory.
Anyway, our hero Meeks Montgomery knows Francine from way back. He must be a big fan of Stephanie Laurens’s heroes, because he’s obsessed with the idea of taking Francine out of field work and away from the outside world that may harm her. Various secondary characters point out that Francine is trained to be a kung-fu machine gun queen, but Meeks believes that all the kung-fu power is irrelevant. Francine can get hurt – and that is just wrong! I suppose some readers may find this overprotective nature of his romantic, but I don’t have enough eye rolls to give that silly fool.
In this story, they have to work together, so he’s all “No, no, little women belong inside the house so that they are safe!” while she’s all “He’s so hot, is he giving me signals that he wants me to grab hold of that thing? Should I? But I don’t want commitment, oh the dilemma.” The whole thing plays out in a pretty predictable and tired manner. Toss in the ex-girlfriend villain character, and Protecting the Heiress ends up like basically any other Kimani story out there – more focused on throwing sequel baits at my face, reiterating the main characters’ perfection, lots of slowly paced scenes of people talking and doing nothing too happening despite the plot being said to be happening, and the evil ex-girlfriend being passed off as the start and end of everything that is evil in this world.
The one amusing thing about this story is that, for all his assertions that Francine being a woman would be the biggest cause of problems in this story, it is Meeks that ends up being the indirect cause of all the drama in the story. But does he learn anything from all this? No. The whole story reinforces the notion that women, just by being what they are, are naturally the weaker sex and need constant protection – Francine does end up in trouble after all, and it is thanks to the men around her secretly putting tracking devices on all the bits and pieces of accessories that she wears (it’s not a violation of privacy if hot guys do it!) that they manage to come to her rescue.
Let’s look at the bright side: the fact that I close Protecting the Heiress feeling that all the guys in this story deserve a karate chop in the head is probably a good thing, as at least I get to feel something other than pure indifference to the book.