Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86445-4
Contemporary Romance, 2016
Usually, anthologies, or in this case, duologies have some kind of purpose, such as being tools to milk Christmas or Valentine’s Day sentiments. I’m not sure what is this one’s reason to exist, though. Maybe they just drew out two authors’ names from a hat and told them to go write something, and the one with the better story would get a special pen while the loser must go wash the boss’s car.
The common theme in the two stories of Tonight is that we have a playboy hero who sticks it to anything female paired up with a prim and proper heroine. Hmm, maybe this duology exists to commemorate the special “remember the creep that tried to molest a drunken you back at the prom” day. Of course, it is never molest when the guy in question is hot, sexy, rich, and has abs hard enough to cut diamonds – only fat, disgusting guys can be creeps, after all. Back to these stories, despite the similar theme, the stories are executed in such disparate manner that comparing them is quite an interesting exercise.
Nana Malone’s City of Sin has two marketing analysts, Synthia “Prim, Proper, but Secretly Gagging for Hot Hero Hot Dog” Michaels and Tristan “Is It Considered Winning Me over When Every Other Woman out There Has Already Taken a Ride on My Bicycle Seat?” Dawson. He has been poaching on her clients by wagging that smile and… everything else at those weak-willed lust-addled women, but she is determined to win the latest account. Well, in a way she gets her wish, but she has to work with Tristan in Las Vegas to get the ball rolling with the new client. And where there is a ball in Las Vegas, there will be balling. What, what did I say?
The plot has been done many times already, but this one is pretty tightly executed. The pacing is almost as hot as the sexy times, tight and concise, and both characters have red hot chemistry. The humor works, the sexy works, and what doesn’t work is how women in this story are all portrayed as hotly susceptible to Tristan’s charms, to the point of delirious thirst. Come on, let’s be real here – any guy who has been gotten that many times by other women is hardly a challenge, much less a catch, and it’s hard to feel like a special lady in his life when he’s like a used rug with all kinds of stains all over. Toning down the hero’s exaggerated sexual virtuoso would have made this story less over the top and probably more relatable. Still, this one is a very entertaining kind of short diversion.
Sienna Mynx’s Shipwrecked, on the other hand, is a, er, wreck. Professor Dela Jones, the prim and proper one, and Jon Hendrix, very rich and so slutty that they would probably have to name six new strains of STD bugs after him, meet at her sister’s wedding and he comes on to her with such clumsy come-ons that, for a moment, I wonder whether I’ve stumbled upon a script tossed into a waste bin after a porn film shoot. They are trapped in an elevator and, our heroine, who is claustrophobic, starts screaming. The author then inexplicably jumps ahead two years down the road, when Dela’s sister celebrates her anniversary at her husband’s private island, and the two meet again.
This one is gets everything wrong. Both hero and heroine behave in such an exaggerated, melodramatic manner that I feel exhausted just following them. They bicker like children, do and say lots of ridiculous things, and the author still has time to squeeze in sequel baits. Pacing is in tatters because, for some reason, the author makes odd jumps in time that kills any momentum she was building up up to that point. The hero’s “charm” appears to be grime and sleaze instead, and I can’t help cringing each time he opens his mouth. This guy is more like a douchebag fratboy than anything else, and I can only assume that his sexual success is aided by liberal plying of alcohol to his partners, or maybe a clubbing in the head.
Nana Malone’s story is an easy four-oogie read, while Sienna Mynx scores two oogies here. Four plus two is six, and six divided by two is three. Thus, Tonight gets a three-oogie score at the end of the day. If you do read this one, it’s probably best to stop after the first story, and go do something else more fun instead.