Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86320-4
Contemporary Romance, 2013
Oops, I mentioned previously that Kayla Perrin’s Harts in Love series has come to an end after three books. My bad, it looks like the author is going down the route of extending the series to include every friend, distant cousin, neighbor, Facebook friends, and Linked in partners. Despite the fact that there is no Hart in the main role in Until Now, this is part of the series. Don’t worry, the Harts in question show up to remind everyone that they are still the most perfect people on earth, in incomparable loving bliss with one another.
Tamara Jackson meets her future husband in – where else? – the wedding party of those awesome Harts. A single mother to a scared son, Tamara is a domestic abuse survivor who is finally free when her husband got thrown to jail for daring to give the awesome Harts the finger in a previous book. She bumps into Marshall Jennings, whose best friend is marrying Tamara’s best friend in this rather incestuous close-knit circle of physically perfect people. She hasn’t seen him since college, but she knows that the police detective is a player. He wants her, so she must not give in. No! Unfortunately, he’s not taking no for an answer.
Now, Marshall knows what Tamara had gone through. She is skittish about being touch. So what does our awesome alpha male hero do?
Force himself into her personal space. Touch her without invitation ten seconds into a scene. At one point, she faints from his touch, and his reaction is basically, “She’s so hot! I can’t wait to boink her! Next time, then!” Mock her efforts to tell him to give her some space, sneer at her when she tries to fight him off because he knows that she’s gagging for it, and generally acts like a creepy horny one-eyed tentacled monster that one buys a tazer and a baseball bat for.
Oh, and there’s the usual double standard flying around too. Marshall being a player is a virtue, a symbol of his virility, but the women that throw themselves at him are all whores. Now, this is nothing new in a Kimani romance – I won’t be surprised to find out that the editors are mandated to reject any book that doesn’t describe the hero as a player – and this double standard is always more awkward when the authors would also bring up faith and church in their stories. But it’s a double standard that, like many other double standards in the genre, that I could live with provided that the author tells a good story. After all, romance is what it is, and if I was hoping that this double standard would die out when younger authors come onboard, the hope dies quickly without even a whimper when these authors starting churning out new adult romances like the happiest McDonald’s workers in the world.
In this book, however, nothing goes well. The pairing of such a hero to a domestic abuse survivor who clearly needs time to get over her issues is horrific. The hero is selfish and self-absorbed to a terrifying degree: when he thinks about Tamara’s abuse at her husband’s hands, he compares that situation to an ex-girlfriend who dumped him to go back to her ex, with the conclusion that his love “couldn’t give her the strength” to leave that ex, how sad for him and his poor wounded little winkie. Oh, and he is a player because every woman in the last sixteen years is like that ex – whores, whores, whores everywhere, oh my god. The implication of his prepubescent thought process is most unfortunate: apparently if you can’t leave an ex, you deserve what you get. Well, ain’t a woman lucky that Marshall is there with his love to give her the strength to leave the ex, doesn’t it? That is, until he decides that she’s a whore like all the other women he’d porked and borked, and then it’s the same old song and dance all over again.
Until Now – never, more like. It’s too bad that I’m a lady of genteel distinction, or else I’d have happily invited my dear doggies to use this book as their toilet.