Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86513-0
Contemporary Romance, 2017
Am I the only one who miss the old Arabesque stories, back before Harlequin bought the whole thing from BET and turned the line into a black folks’ version of their existing series lines? There were actually a nice mix of stories in those days, from romantic suspense to small town romances to urban chick-lit style stories. If I compare this author’s Arabesque books to her current Kimani ones, the differences are very obvious – her Kimani books are all confined within the acceptable boundaries of plot and characters as laid down by the people running the line.
Sigh. Oh yes, Sweet Stallion. It’s part of the series revolving around the Stallion clan, and this time around we have Naomi Stallion, who wants to purchase an organic farm in her hometown in Utah, in order to convert it into the neighborhood base of operations of her Vitally Vegan business. I’m not sure how viable it is to sell vegan food in that place instead of, say, Seattle or San Francisco but when you have what seems like a dozen billionaires in your family all ready to throw money your way should your business even threaten to tip over a little, I’m sure you’d try setting up a coal boutique in Newcastle if you feel like it too.
Alas, the farm she has her eye on is also eyed by hot, hot Patrick O’Brien, an attorney working on behalf of the Perry Group, a developer intent on building another one of those mall and residential complex thingy. What Patrick doesn’t know is that the company’s big boss is the father of Naomi and her siblings, all of whom were raised by their mother after their father walked out to marry another woman and never acknowledged his other family. Patrick and Naomi bid for the farm, and Naomi wins of course – remember, there are scores of billionaires in her family ready to drown her in dollar bills without her even asking for help. Those two date, fall in love, but her family secrets will soon come out to threaten their happiness.
Yes, like every other story in the Kimani line, this one boils down to the same old daddy issues and heroine against the hateful women angle. Don’t other readers of this line get bored as much as I do of these same old things popping up all the time? The family drama is, in fact, eye-rolling in how depressingly predictable it is. Daddy isn’t that awful, I’m supposed to believe, because it is all his evil wife’s doing. I beg to differ. I won’t say I approve of what she did, but that hag at least did something to make things happen for her. Daddy and Naomi’s mother chose to instead behave like romance hero and heroine respectively, playing the martyr all these years instead of working to keep their love, and their children all suffered as a result. If anything, their story is a cautionary tale to all romance heroines who got knocked up by their men who then proceeded to use some variant of the “I’m ditching you for your own good, girl!” excuse to play the baby daddy, to fire up their favorite search engine and learn up important concepts such as child support, hiring of lawyers to sue for it, and more. Who cares if he doesn’t say the L word? He had his fun, it’s time to pay the piper.
On the bright side, Naomi and Patrick are smart, sensible people, et cetera. This is normally good, but then again, many of the author’s characters are like this. Therefore, as much as I appreciate these characters being likable and reasonable, I’ve also come to expect a bit more from the author. Sweet Stallion doesn’t really have much going for it in terms of conflict apart from the overused family drama thing, which unfortunately plays out like every other family drama in a Kimani story. Therefore, it’s alright, but it’s also not something that will stick to my mind for long.
If only the author has more leeway to spread out a bit and come up with more interesting conflicts for her characters. But I suppose Kimani won’t be a Harlequin series line if such a thing were to happen. Sigh.