Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86485-0
Contemporary Romance, 2017
Ah, Valentine’s Day. It’s just about right for Kimani to release another one of their “special occasion” duology that always feature Nana Malone and someone probably picked from the draw of a hat. This Is Love is all about… well, considering that both authors work overtime in rubbing all the clichés that books in the Kimani line have perfected into a formula, I’m not sure whether the take-home message is about the glory of love. Maybe it’s a reminder of how love can also be banal, and how even the hottest guy may only last two minutes in the sack, leaving you to scowl at the ceiling as he snores happily away beside you.
Nana Malone starts the Valentine’s Day bonanza with Illusion of Love. This is another story about how wealthy and successful people try very hard to be screw-ups in love. Valentine Anderson has a bad track record when it comes to love – she just dumped a loser shortly before her sister’s wedding day. Not that she wants a boyfriend ASAP, but her family, especially her mother, is the sort who’d treat her like a loser because she doesn’t have a husband. Her neighbor, Bennett Cooper, wants to fend off the amorous advances of his boss’s wife, so he practically sets them up to play fake boyfriend and girlfriend. Boy, won’t her mother, a snob, be overjoyed when she shows up with a tattooed white boy by her side!
The author has a very nice style and humor, and her heroine is on the right track when Valentine says that she doesn’t need a man to make her feel secure and what not. Bennett on the other hand is a misfire as he comes off more cocky and smug than charming. The story soon devolves into the same old tedious song and dance with everyone trying very wait to have the most contrived trust issues in town, and Valentine’s mother is yet another one of the countless hag mommas in this line. Kimani Romance – the romance line where evil mommas hate your ass, skanky hos plot to steal your man.
Sienna Mynx presents From My Heart, a truly original story about a woman jilted just before the wedding, going on that honeymoon anyway only to fall for the hot guy that owns the resort. Poor Aniyah – she spent all her money on the wedding day, almost bankrupting herself in order to prove that she is not a money-grubby mercenary ho, and now she is spending her last three hundred bucks on a trip to an idyllic village in Italy. Moral of the day: ladies, if you cannot afford it, please skip the lavish wedding day spending. At any rate, Niccolo Montenegro is still raw from his wife’s death two years ago, and he wants to rebuild the family hotel to its former glory to honor her memory. Therefore, this story is all about the rebound.
Still, after a rocky start where Aniyah demonstrates that she shouldn’t be trusted with money, the story settles into what is pretty much a scenery porn. The atmosphere and setting are both lovely, and the whole sun and romance thing really makes for some “Aww, that’s so sweet!” kind of reading. The romance is almost believable. And then the author just drags the story on and on after his declaration of love to her, piling on boring, tired done-to-death angst involving disapproving family members and heroines who are determined to sacrifice happiness just because they want to be the martyr of the year.
If the author had ended the story after Niccolo confessing his emotions to Aniyah, this story would be fabulous. As it is, it just drags on and on after that perfect note, and I roll up my eyes way too more often in the remaining dozen or so pages of the story.
This Is Love isn’t lovely or magical, but both stories have little scraps of charms to endear themselves to readers. Provided that these readers are still willing to enjoy another round of the tired, tired, tired the storylines and characters present in this one.