Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86379-2
Contemporary Romance, 2014
Event planner Lexus Turner wants to be a take-charge type when it comes to her life, but so far she’s making baby steps, listening to self-help tapes and what not. Her story begins when she bumps into Micah Madden in a lingerie store, where he happens to be in charge on that day. They will meet again a few months later, because everyone knows everyone through everybody else, and these two become close even as the various characters around them conspire to get them closer.
Red Velvet Kisses is not a book that shows up late in a series, so I can only hope the author can show some restraint in future books, or else I can only imagine how cluttered books later down the road in this An Elite Event series would be. The story is actually very light on conflict, focusing instead of the day-to-day stuff of the main characters as they wonder about the other person while their friends and family members all act like that creepy lobster in the The Little Mermaid cartoon. It’s not only the characters, even events conspire to put them together, to the point that random strangers would insist that these two share a room together because the attraction is obvious from the way Lex and Micah look at one another. I tell you, if folks in real life work this hard to get everyone wedded and bedded, we’d all be too busy to wage war and the world would be such a beautiful place.
As a result of all the machinations the author not-so-subtly put into this story – I can practically see her hands in this story forcing the characters to mash face and more, just like an impatient girl playing with her dolls – Lex’s promising character arc ends up petering out, making this another disappointing example of a heroine who talks about self-improvement and what not only to find real happiness when she gets a boyfriend. Micah is a pretty typical hero of this sort of stories – rich, hot, cardboard – with an added touch of creepiness.
The creep factor comes in the form of him hovering into the heroine’s personal space when she’s buying lingerie and they are strangers, only to continue when he keeps calling her “LG” – lingerie girl – without her permission subsequently. It’s like he’s never come across a woman who wears lingerie before, and therefore does everything to remind her that he has seen the kind of stuff she wears and he is always thinking about her in them. I don’t care how hot he is, he’s still creepy.
Back to the romance, because the author forces her characters together by creating forced situations or having intrusive characters manipulate events to get the steamy stuff going, the romance ends up being artificial in nature. The characters all gush about true love, often in flowery ways, but their emotions never seem to develop naturally. Lex can gush all she wants about how she can tell from Micah’s kiss that this is true love and what not, but I don’t see it. It’s great that these two want to have sex together every hour and every day, but that doesn’t mean that I automatically buy that they are in love too.
At any rate, the story is a pretty decent read from a technical standpoint, but it is easy to put down because the whole thing feels too staged for its own good. Love isn’t all about telling, it needs some showing too, and Red Velvet Kisses is a good example of what happens when the balance is skewed too much towards the telling.