Kimani, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-335-43301-5
Contemporary Romance, 2019
Janice Sims had been away from the romance genre for a while, due to real life issues, and now she’s back, just after the old Kimani line is supposedly dead and buried. Given how short the Harlequin Duets line lasted ages back, I sincerely hope this version of Kimani 2.0 will last longer than that one, if only because I’d like to read this author’s stuff a little longer.
Similar to the other story that shares space with this 2-in-1 thingy, Unconditionally demonstrates that the author is way too good for the Kimani formula. The title is both a play on the hero Leonidas Wolfe’s angst – he has a medical condition which causes him to be believe that he will never have a chance at a happily ever after with heroine Meghan Gaines – and an eventual spoiler. What happens here is that Leo is coming to Durham, as he’s going to be a professor at Duke University. Leo’s brother Jake married her sister Amina in Safe in My Arms, so it makes sense for that couple to ask Meghan to show him around town. That’s basically the story – unlike the previous related story, this one doesn’t have drug dealers and plane drama. Just two likable, sane characters going around bonding and showing me what a lovely town they are in.
That’s the problem with this one: for a long time, the whole thing resembles a tour guide or something, only this one isn’t so bad because the company is nice. The hero and the heroine are quintessential Janice Sims types – they feel like real people, devoid of contrived daddy and mommy issues typical of the main characters of this line. However, after a while, I wish that things will heat up a bit, as all the pleasantry eventually becomes rather mundane to read.
But worse is the resolution of Leo’s health issue. Now, I know these things can happen in real life, but here, in a story that is already lacking in urgency and conflict, this particular development feels like the author’s one last grand ditch to avoid having any remotely difficult drama in her story. Leo and Meghan are nice people – they deserve a story that challenges them more, so that they can get all emotional and “And I’m your la-aaa-aaa-dy, and you are my ma-aaa-aaa-an!” on me to bring on those glorious feels.
Still, for the long time, this story is a cozy, pleasant read. Most authors who have had a rough time in real life tend to come up with stories that feel choppy or rough, but here, everything is put together very well. The conversations feel natural and are a delight to follow, the humor is gentle but effective, and the descriptive narrative is solid. Really, this is a nice read… it’s just that everything in here is contrived in a way to ensure that it doesn’t cause the pulse to quicken even a little bit.