Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-1-335-21682-3
Contemporary Romance, 2018
Collin Stallion plans to give back to the community by volunteering to exonerate someone wrongfully convicted of crime.
When I read line that at the back cover of Deborah Fletcher Mello’s Stallion Dream, I briefly entertained a lovely fantasy. Perhaps Collin was an ex-con, wrongly sentenced for some crime he didn’t commit, and was released only thanks to a sharp lawyer who helped to unearth some evidence to prove his innocence. And Collin, who got a law degree while he was incarcerated, decided to repay the lawyer (now his mentor of sorts) by being a public defender to help the disenfranchised and downtrodden. Perhaps heroine London Jacobs would be the cynical DA who couldn’t believe that a man like Collin could exist in her world…
Oh wait, what was I thinking?
Collin is part of the perpetually-breeding and expanding Stallion clan. While having read all, or most of the books in this series, I can’t keep track of the characters anymore because they are all hot, super-talented, wealthy, and what not to the point that they all start to come from the same mold in the factory, so don’t quote me on this, but the names of Collin’s parents, uncles, and aunts all seem familiar, so maybe he’s a second generation Stallion all ready to breed more of his kind in this world.
Being a Stallion, he’s hot and his family is loaded. In fact, he is given a black Mercedes C-300 sedan by his parents in the opening chapter for being so awesome. He can’t really deny London’s accusation that he becomes the hotshot newest intern at the law firm where she works because his Mommy and Daddy know the right people. Of course, he’d soon prove that he isn’t a mere product of nepotism, he is also, like, genuinely awesome.
He and London work together on the case of a man who was incarcerated for the murder of his wife. Oh, he’s innocent, of course, and now that Boy Wonder and his New Girlfriend are on the case, expect new evidence proving the man’s innocence to pop out like zits on a boy’s face the moment puberty hits. Along the way, these two fall in love when they are not showing off their family members and BFFs (hey, fam, don’t forget to buy all their books) and guzzling artisan coffees in gentrified upscale areas.
I’m sorry, but are these people interesting to read about? I have nothing against people born with the silver spoon in their mouths, who have also hit the jackpot in the genetic lottery, as I’d love to be listed in one of these people’s wills if I couldn’t be their BFF, but come on, this is a story with a central plot of two people clearing a poor fellow’s name. Just like the author’s previous title for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Stallion Dream doesn’t have the urgent pacing or dramatic tension normally associated with stories with such plots – the characters are too capable to the point that nothing will faze them or hold them back, and the way they get the man freed and cleared of all charges (come on, that is not a spoiler) feels way too easy and somewhat unearned. Also, it’s hard to take the suspense subplot seriously when our hero and heroine seem to spend a lot of their time meeting people, dating, having lunches, discussing their developing relationship with various secondary characters, and, of course, making their way to and past third base.
As for the romance, well, it’s easily the best reason to read this one because while Collin and London are often too perfect to be believable, they are still likable sorts who click and communicate very well. At the same time, the author still has some… er, unusual way with words when it comes to the love scenes. Once the clothes are off, everything begins spewing, spasming, and going skywards. My favorite is this one:
Had there been a roof above their heads his pulse and her heart rate would have blown a hole through it.
For some reason, the Merrie Melodies That’s All Folks! tune begins playing inside my head once I reach the end of that sentence.
As a romance, Stallion Dream is way too much like the other books in this series – sure, the main characters are likable on the whole, but ask me in a week and see if I can tell them apart from the couples in those other books. As a romantic suspense, well, it sure doesn’t feel like one. Maybe if the author had another 300 pages to balance out the suspense and the romance better, this one would be a far more cohesive story. As it is, I feel like the author tries to cover too many bases in this story but due to length constraints, the story ends up neither here nor there.