Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86497-3
Contemporary Romance, 2017
Prince Kristian Rafferty DeSaunders – HAHAHAHAHA… ahem – is the crown prince of Great Serenity Island – HAHAHAHA… cough, cough – somewhere in the Caribbean ocean. His father is about to marry the regal beauty Malayka, and joining the fiancée’s entourage is our heroine Landry Norris, a stylist. When these two meet, they feel a connection and the earth moves, or something like that, but because the author is contracted to write a full length novel rather than a short story, these two will talk and talk and talk and talk before they bump ugly. And then, someone tries to sabotage the royal wedding, and all clues suggest that Landry is the saboteur. Oh no, does this mean that all that riding of Kris on her part is just part of a deception? Is she a whore-portunist? Will Kris’s fragile manhood ever recover if she is?
I hope I didn’t make To Marry a Prince seem exciting, because it’s actually flatter than a pancake that has been run over a few hundred times by a steamroller. Nothing really happens for the most part other than Kris slowly putting the moves on Landry while Landry psychoanalyzes everything far more than is necessary. Even when things are happening, everything seems to move at a glacial pace. This is often a problem with the author’s books, but sometimes she manages to find the right stride and her story ends up being pretty interesting despite the glacial pace. This, however, is not that story. There are just too much focus on mundane things being described in detail as well as too many conversations that just rehash things that have been described previously. The characters are flat, with very little discernible personality other than “Hey, it’s another hot heroine trying very hard to be modest and sweet and that rich hero who just wants to get into her pants; never come across such characters before!”
One thing that makes this story rather unpalatable, however, is the constant demonization of Malayka. It’s weird, because she’s not competing with Landry for a ride on Kris’s saddle. And yet, Malayka wears dresses with low-cut cleavage to show off her magnificent breasts, how disgusting. She is arrogant, she wants attention, she wears make-up, and worst of all, she has work done on her body to be more beautiful. We all know the only people worth finding love are those heroines who are born beautiful like Landry but are humble enough to downplay their own beauty so that we fat, sexually frustrated romance readers will not be triggered into PTSD by being confronted by a beautiful woman who knows it in our stories.
Hence, Malayka is constantly being judged and dismissed as lacking by the humble and virtuous Landry, and for what? That woman mysteriously vanishes as the story lumbers sleepily to the inevitability of Landry becoming Princess Landry Norris DeSaunders – HAHAHAHAHAHA, oh my god – so it’s not like all that constant beauty-shaming, confidence-shaming and cosmetic-shaming is leading to some exciting denouement. No, it’s just the author dumping on women who dare to take measures to make themselves more attractive if they weren’t born with the right genes as well as women who dare to believe that they deserve the best in life. Maybe she did a survey and discovered that the bulk of her readers are women who hate other women who are more beautiful and more successful in bagging hot men, hence this book. It’s still strange, though, because the author likes to espouse a philosophy of love and understanding in her stories. I guess beautiful and confident women are excluded from all that love and understanding.
Also, Great Serenity Island – HAHAHAHAHA; no, really, just what is with the names in this story? – feels very wallpaper in terms of culture and local flavor. The whole place feels… “American”, for the want of a better word. So why go through the lengths to set the story in a foreign locale? Although “go through the lengths” is not exactly how I would describe the effort spent on fleshing out the setting. This one feels very much like a Harlequin Presents story, only with the characters given an extra coat of melanin to forcefully shove it into the Kimani line instead.
To Marry a Prince is a royal snore.