Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86495-9
Contemporary Romance, 2017
The problem with Bridget Anderson’s The Only One for Me begins right in the first chapter, when it can be easily removed from the book without affecting the rest of the story. Far too much of this story is like that: there is so much filler, and not enough story. And what little story is there is so boring for so long, executed in a shockingly meandering and joyless manner, that I can only wonder whether the author was forced by someone or by circumstances to write this thing.
Corra Coleman is a single mother to her kids – she is divorced from Eric – and, when the story opens, she is doing her best to keep things together while still trying to recuperate from an accident that causes her to have problems climbing the stairs and such. Fortunately, unlike us mere mortals, she finds delivery in a cozy job of running a gift shop at her family’s antebellum bed and breakfast – which is, of course, always fully booked and such. She also finds love with Christopher Williams, your usual loaded, wealthy dude, but that hits a bump when Eric moves to the neighborhood too and wants his family back.
There are some possibilities to the plot, so it’s not like this one is a total lost cause. Chris was born poor and he has always wanted to be wealthy as a result. That would have been an interesting hero, one driven by ambition to overcome his childhood demons. But no, the author has Chris already being a super-successful, ultra-wealthy millionaire when the story begins, so he’s another boring, typical hero as a result, and his baggage – commitment issues – is as played out and overdone as they come. Likewise, Eric is a very interesting, flawed character, and while for a while I fear that the author would turn him into a typical villain, that character never falls into that trap. The author allows Eric to have both virtues and flaws, and hence, while I personally won’t want to be friends with him, I find him a far more memorable and compelling character than anyone else in this story.
Thus, this story only comes alive in its last few chapters, when the conflict between Eric and Chris as well as Corra all comes to a head. While everything has been standard formulaic stuff up to this point, the author digs her heels in and has these characters interact and behave in an unexpectedly mature manner. While the story has been dreadfully dull up to that point, filled with mundane interactions with various secondary characters and unnecessary details about these characters’ back stories (all of which add little to the relationship arc), things become focused and even suspenseful during these last few chapters. I don’t know what happened, but it is as if the author finally found her mojo and poured her all into these chapters.
These chapters save The Only One for Me from being a one-oogie read, but to be honest, I doubt those chapters are worth the effort of having to slough through the earlier clumsily-written, meandering chapters.