Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86518-5
Contemporary Romance, 2017
Dr Elias Bradley, a surgeon – the best, naturally – is also quite the hothead. He recently injured his hand in a mud racing accident (don’t ask), but it was barely healed when he saw a man roughing up a patient and issued a punch. The chief of surgery Dr Lundy is not happy at all – she insists that he takes time off to heal his hand and cool off, banning him from the hospital premise in the process. So he goes off to the lovely Hideaway Island and gets laid. Well, he’s hot and has a six pack so amazing that you can perform brain surgery on a patient rested on it, so what do you expect him to do? Play checkers with old people?
The lady in question is Dr Cricket Warren. Or, to be more accurate, Dr2 Cricket Warren, since she has two PhDs. While she may be some kind of brainiac, she is also quite socially awkward, so she rambles on and on in front of Elias. He finds that – and her – cute, and soon it’s sex, fun and games all the way until they have to part ways. And then, oops, she discovers that she is pregnant.
Don’t scream – while Tempted at Twilight may seem like the latest incarnation of some Harlequin Temptation story, but the author delivers a story that is basically the formula done right. Cricket is adorable in her awkward ways instead of annoying or too cutesy, and her relationship with Elias is… well, one thing I know about the author after reading her past books is that she is excellent in creating a vibe for her characters that is a heady mix of friendship, lust, and some affection sprinkled on top, and here, she is on the roll. Those two are fantastic together, and I find myself grinning like a drunk Cheshire cat as I follow these two.
And while a baby can be a cause of terrible friction, these two actually behave sensibly. Cricket tells him the moment that she finds that she is expecting their kid, and he is rational enough to consider the situation. She wants to keep the baby, of course – given that her parents are loaded and she stands to inherit a billion dollars worth of assets when daddy gets run over by a truck, it’s not like being a single mother is a hardship – and he’s old fashioned enough to want to marry her so that their kid will be born to lawfully wedded Mommy and Daddy. The biggest drama so far is the fact that her mother is Dr Lundy, the very boss of him that sees him as a reckless fool. At least, until the story, which is light-hearted so far, takes an abruptly darker tone when Cricket loses the baby.
That’s when the story loses me. No, it’s not because of the nature of the plot development. In fact, I love the fact that the author dares to include this, and has Elias and Cricket undergo a painful, but believable crisis of faith that only ends up strengthening their relationship in the end. There are some beautifully heartbreaking scenes in this part of the story, making me a believer in the author’s ability to do serious as well as funny.
But the problem here is that the second half feels very rushed, perhaps because there is no space to fully develop it. While the author takes the effort to create a lovely balance of show and tell in the first half, with her using her characters’ actions and conversations to convey their thoughts and feelings very well, the second half is basically one long exposition after another. There is a strong “Oops, I have to go, so I’d be rushing now!” vibe to the whole second half of the story. As much as I love what the author is trying to do here, I feel that she needs another hundred or so pages to do that part of the story justice.
Nonetheless, Tempted at Twilight is one of the most enjoyable and satisfying romances I’ve read in a while, and I am very conflicted about the final rating. The heart says five oogies, but the brain points out that the second half of the story isn’t good enough to warrant that score. Still, I’ve had fun, my heart has taken a few bruises, and it’s all good.