Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86219-1
Contemporary Romance, 2011
I have no idea why this book is called Saved by Her Embrace, as nobody here needs saving either from enemies or from inner demons. Sure, there are those patients of our hero, but they don’t count. But I guess we need to suggest that there is a compelling reason to pick this book up, as the story by itself is a snooze due to a lack of conflict or suspense. Oh, there are some arguments here and there, but they are not exactly must-read material.
The plot is very simple. Sandra Walters, co-owner of a travel agency, and Troy Whitehall, ambitious brain surgeon, have the hots for each other. In fact, ten years ago, they had a one-night stand. It was great, of course, but the morning after was best described as awkward. Today, these two meet again, and finally, they talk and have sex and fall in love. Finally!
The conflict, if I can call it that, is that Sandra doesn’t like doctors. Oh, don’t scoff – this isn’t some one-dimensional “I was pawed by a doctor during a Pap smear and now I HATE THEM FOREVER!” drama. Sandra’s father is a doctor, she was engaged to one before, and she knows firsthand how little time doctors have for their family due to their job responsibilities. With Troy being an ambitious brain surgeon, it’s reasonable to assume that he’s really going to have to give his all to his career. Sandra doesn’t want to settle for being a mere second to any man, especially when the most time her father really spent with the family was when he filed for divorce to marry his nurse. On Troy’s part, he never really gives a steady relationship and commitment much thought as for the most part he just wants to have as much hot sex with Sandra as possible. It is only when he really talks to Sandra and understands her insecurities that he begins evaluating his own views on commitment and responsibilities to his loved ones. What I like here is how Sandra’s actually valid concerns about starting a relationship with a doctor are treated with a degree of gravity instead of having them dismissed outright. Nobody is entirely in the wrong here – both Troy and Sandra need to make compromises if they want their relationship to work. I like this mature approach.
Unfortunately, this conflict can’t keep the story going all on its own, and this is where the author does a misstep: he pads the story with scenes that only readers who are really, really enamored of the characters from the author’s previous books will care about. For the first two-thirds of this book, the main characters spend a lot of time visiting and exchanging pleasantry with various secondary characters in scenes that serve no purpose other than to offer readers glimpses into how predictably amazing these characters’ lives are ever since they got married and popped out a few brats. The later third of the book is easily the strongest part of the book because the focus is on the romance. Everything else is a meandering soap opera-style travelogue of Barbados and a Lifestyle of the Rich and Fabulously Married-type of montage moments. There are so many of such ho-hum scenes that serve only as fanservice to readers who care. I’m not such a reader, alas.
There is also a problem of repetition. Every time a secondary character appears in the story, the same facts about that character will pop up. For example, every time Clara is in a scene, the heroine will remind me of how much Clara is her BFF. And since I don’t have any emotional investment in these secondary characters, the repetition can become annoying after a while.
Saved by Her Embrace has an embryo of a mature romance despite its initial cartoon-like “ten years of childish pouting on everyone’s part” set-up, but it is also a book that is so heavily padded with scenes that don’t add much to the story. This one should have been a short story.