Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86514-7
Contemporary Romance, 2017
Whitney Talbot, for some reason, doesn’t believe in happily ever after with a man, even if a part of her desperately wants that happily ever after. I suppose I know that feeling. Too much chocolates can only lead to no good, but I can never have too much of that – is that the same thing? At any rate, the women around her are getting married or popping out babies, but for some reason this only leads her to believe that she will never, ever find that kind of baby-popping married ever after thing for herself. Never. Really. But she needs a date for an upcoming family wedding in Bahamas, so oh, in the age of Tinder, OKCupid, Bristlr (if you are on the hunt for bearded men), and other zillion find-a-man-any-man apps, she has no idea what to do.
Luckily, she is almost run into when she decides to text on her phone while driving. No, she doesn’t become cement truck pulp – it’s better; she meets the driver, Lane Martin, and is annoyed when he dares to suggest that it is her fault that the accident nearly happened and come on, can people hurry up, she is late for an appointment. How anyone can’t be charmed over by our adorable heroine, I can’t imagine. For some reason, he’s cute and hot and she really wants him to run his truck – the fun kind – over her again and again and again but… oh no, he’s divorced and with kids! She only wants a handsome, wealthy man with a property and with no kids – even if she believes that men can only bring heartbreak and misery – so surely this man can’t be trusted!
An Unexpected Affair is more like an unexpected lunacy as our heroine proceeds to act like a paranoid Adderall addict at the verge of a nervous breakdown. He doesn’t reply to her texts! He doesn’t return her calls! Oh no, which ho bag is he slipping it into now? He is talking to another woman! He’s practically making love to the carbon dioxide coming out from her mouth! Oh no, she’s going to die from heartbreak now, oh… oh wait, he talks to her and everything is alright again! He’s her true love! Everything will be perfect… until he slips up the next time in her eyes, and then it’s the same song and dance all over again. This ramps up a notch once they decide to become a couple post-boink and the conflict devolves into a series of oopsies on his part and lots of wrong assumptions on her part. The whole thing feels contrived to me, especially when fundamentally it makes little sense for Whitney to be this jaded when everywhere around her are examples of happy marriages and beautiful lovey-dovey stuff in full-blown action.
But the true mood-killer here is how the author seems to sometimes forget that she is writing a romance novel and goes into grocery list writer mode. There are many scenes here which sees her describing every single mundane, trivial detail to an unnecessarily detailed degree.
Here’s an example on page 27 onward. I am just giving a summary because the actual parts are far longer and I can’t force myself to spend so much time and effort typing out such boring details.
Okay, early on Lane texted Whitney the address of a body shop run by a friend, because it’s totally his fault that Whitney almost caused a terrible accident at the construction site when she decided to text while driving. So, in this scene, she goes to that place.
First, I am told that Whitney is waiting at the receptionist. Then Lane’s friend, Melvin, shows up, and I’m told what he looks like. He says hello, she says hello back. He says he can fix the body of her car, no problem. He then tells her that Lane is his BFF and that man has called him to “take care” of Whitney. No, not in a sexy or murder-y way, duh. He then asks her where she comes from, because I still can’t remember despite being reminded that Whitney is from Bahamas so many times already. He then tells her to sit over there. She tells him no thanks, her friend has showed up and they plan to go chit chat for a while. She then tells him that her friend is engaged, as that detailed backstory of that friend in the earlier parts of the story continues to elude me. The friend, Kenya, comes up and asks Whitney whom that man is. Whitney says that his name is Melvin and Melvin is Lane’s friend. Hi, Melvin! Kenya, like all best friends in Kimani stories, basically squeals that Whitney is calling Lane by his first name and, hee-hee, girlfriend, this is evidence that he’s so boinking Whitney, hee-hee. Kenya then asks whether Whitney has decided where they will go. Whitney is like, what a minute, let her pull out her phone. Mmm-hmm, there’s a bar around the corner. So they go to the bar, and I’m told with some detail what the bar decor is like and what these two women order off the menu. Whitney asks the waiter whether she can also order some hot wings too. Oh, and the waiter is a half-naked woman, although why I need to know this I have no idea, since nobody is going to paw at the naked part of that waiter anytime soon. Kenya is like girl, Whitney has the perfect body and eating those wings will never make Whitney fat. This is so random that I think she probably is on drugs. Whitney is like bitch, she may never get fat but she hits the gym now and that, so uh oh, deal with that. Kenya is like, girl, when did Whitney last commit herself to a workout and I’m like WHY THE HELL DO I NEED TO KNOW THIS, BITCHES? Whitney is like, ooh, girl, last night. Kenya is like, girl, before last night, when was the last time Whitney worked out and I’m like OMG PLEASE TALK ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE. Been a while, Whitney says, and she’s back in the workout groove now, and oh, her back hurts. STOP TALKING PLEASE. Kenya is like ooh bitch, why does Whitney want to work out when she has that “it all in the right places”. PLEASE STOP. Whitney now thinks about how she needs to lift her butt more and make her stomach flatter. She then tells Kenya how that woman should tone up too. And then she decides to talk about the shoes for her upcoming trip, because Kenya gets sensitive when people call her fat. They then talk about shoes. And then the hot wings come and Kenya asks for extra napkins. She catches the half-naked waitress rolling her eyes at that request and goes, bitch, did that ho roll her eyes like that and Whitney is like, oh yes, bitch, she did, haw haw haw. Whitney adds that the service sucks but the wings are great. They eat. Whitney then goes back to Melvin’s place and marvels at how awesome her car looks now. She then drives home.
AND THAT SCENE, ALL THREE PAGES OF WORDS, ENDS UP HAVING ZERO IMPACT ON THE STORY SO WHAT THE DUCK.
That’s for just three pages. Imagine pages after pages of such bizarre, mundane detours. Oh, people want to get out of the car, so they open the door. They then step out of the car. The road is a road, and they walk on it. OH MY GOD JUST STOP.
Seriously, An Unexpected Affair doesn’t seem to be able to make up its mind whether it wants to be a romance novel or an autistic blow-by-blow account of what the characters do – every single thing. Build up? Pacing? Who cares? Lane shuts off his phone and crawls under his sheets. He then switches off the lamp. Wait, his phone lights up. He checks the text message, it’s from Whitney. So he sits up and turns on the lamp again. Are you at the edge of your seat, people? I swear, if you aren’t reading this book, you are clearly missing out on the true definition of breathtaking excitement.