Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-1-335-21672-4
Contemporary Romance, 2018
Like the title suggests, Carolyn Hector’s Tempting the Beauty Queen is another entry into her series Once Upon a Tiara, which features heroines that are involved in the pageant scene one way or the other.
Kenzie Swayne needs a date on her arm ASAP, as she will be attending some weddings soon and it won’t do to show up all alone. Don’t ask. When it comes to our heroine, it’s best to not ask many questions – nobody will be happy with the answers. Unfortunately, this beautiful woman can’t find any date, and has to settle on Ramon Torres, who stood her up after they had what she thought was a grand affair a year or so ago. Oh, and the wealthy hero is also snapping up properties in the neighborhood, including those belonging to her family, and she acts as if capitalism were a crime even as she enjoys her latte and dons all those pretty dresses that were probably made by children in sweatshops in China.
Oh, where do I even start? The main conflict in this story is that our hero is never, ever allowed to let a sports bar open in a property he has renovated and is renting out, or the heroine will flip. Never mind that she has no legal or spousal bond to Ramon in any way to act so entitled, but come on, all that drama over a sports bar? You’d think it’s a brothel filled with underage girls from the way she goes about it, but that’s the way our heroine rolls here. Even when she realizes that the hero is not a sports bar groupie, she immediately changes her tune and insists that she will never forgive the hero anyway, because this time he has somehow humiliated her in front of other people. She has told him never to do this or that, and now that he has, she will NEVER be with him EVER AGAIN. Well, until she gets horny for him, that is.
What passes for romance here feels more like emotional blackmail on the heroine’s part – if you don’t do what she says, it’s OVER. The icing on the cake is the grand denouement: while announcing that she is breaking up with the hero because she can’t accept that she is wrong about him, she at the same time calls him emotionally immature. On top of this, the heroine did some eye-rolling childish pranks on him in the year between their break-up and this story, some of them actually impacting his career negatively. All this while, he doesn’t retaliate, but rather, wisely gives her a wide berth. Ah, but he’s the immature one of the two! Ramon loses all his survival instincts in order for this story to happen, and he is far more patient with and indulgent of her than any sane man should.
Aside from that, Kenzie also suffers from the author trying too hard to make the heroine sound hip and trendy. Hence, Kenzie is always being animated to a manic degree – laughing, sneering, her arms always moving – and this coupled to her childish tantrums all make her resemble Angelica Pickles more than anything else.
Also, this one is awash in pointless appearances of too many secondary characters. No, really – there are times when this story is a roll call of people pretty much standing in line and waiting to be introduced to the hero or the heroine, all the way to the late quarter or so! Is this a romance novel or a long advertisement for past and future books? It can be hard to tell.
At any rate, Tempting the Beauty Queen has an annoying heroine, a romance which requires the hero to keep giving and getting very little back, and far more secondary characters than plot. The author has made it way too tempting to say no to this baby.