Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86389-1
Contemporary Romance, 2015
Bailey Sinclair has money problems. She wants to get a law degree, but college plans may come to a premature end if she couldn’t get a scholarship. Meanwhile, the bills keep piling up, despite our heroine bartending up and down to make ends meet, and her sisters act like she is made of money. Every time they screw up – which they do with distressing frequency – they expect Bailey to cough up the dough. Not that I blame them, though. Bailey lets them do this to her, because she feels that this was what her late mother wanted of her, so the fault, if you ask me, lies squarely on her. You’d think she’d be happy when she attracts the attention of the very wealthy Justin Lawson, but no, she has seen what chasing after money did to her mother, so she will never accept money from any man, no way.
Okay, the synopsis sounds bad, but fortunately, Bailey turns out to be far less stubborn than the back cover made her out to be. Instead, The Way You Love Me is all about stepping out of the parents’ expectations, especially when meeting these expectations means that you will only end up miserable and unhappy. Justin is already doing it when he meets Bailey: he’s a lawyer more into the advocacy and helping the needy side of things, much to his more corporate-minded father’s disappointment, and he soon breaks away from a job that is making him unhappy. It takes a little longer for Bailey to get there – her epiphany, in fact, is the climactic moment of this story – but it’s a good one, as her epiphany comes to her on her own, rather than because the hot boyfriend boinks her into seeing the light.
While the psychology of the main characters are handled well, the story ends up feeling more like something that is more interested in telling me very important messages about life than to tell me a story. Perhaps because of this, for a long time I find myself wondering why Justin would pursue Bailey so devotedly, since she often acts like she’d rather stick needles into her eyes than to have fun in his presence. It really must be love, I suppose, since he’s already slept with her early in this story. That, or the sex must be really good for him.
It says a lot about the author that she manages to make her main characters likable and even rootable, despite Bailey’s more obtuse moments and the frequent heavy-handed tone of the story. There is really nothing truly objectionable about The Way You Love Me – it’s a pleasant read that drives home a set of very sensible messages about loving oneself first, before loving the family or anyone else. I just wish it’s been more of a story and less of an Oprah family hour, if you know what I mean.