Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86363-1
Contemporary Romance, 2014
I’ll be honest here, when I see this book arrive at my doorstep, I immediately think, “Oh look, hot book is here!” and move it straight to the top of the pile of books that I intend to read some time before Christmas. The author’s previous books suffer from spotty plotting, but there’s no denying that she can write some toe-curling love scenes. Standing up, on the knees, back to front, upside down – oh yes, Harmony Evans is there to teach everyone the zen art of balance, pressure, and release.
In When Morning Comes, we meet Autumn Hilliard, a private investigator. She’s hired by rich tycoon Sterling Paxton to infiltrate his own investment firm as the new analyst. Her job is simple: Sterling suspects that his employee Isaac Mason is committing securities fraud, and he wants to Isaac to act as Autumn’s mentor. That way, Autumn can keep a close eye on that man and report any suspicious antics. Isaac is very nice to keep an eye on, however, and Autumn soon finds it hard to keep things professional. She likes him, and his kids are fine too, so what will happen when he discovers the real reason she’s in his life?
The romance is just that – nice and fine. Isaac and Autumn have a spontaneous kind of chemistry that is believable, natural, and oozing with sexual tension. It is easy to believe them when they say that they are attracted. The relationship feels organic – they really do seem like they like one another.
Isaac is a nice guy. Really, there is no contrived effort to turn him into some kind of arrogant or domineering guy, which is a refreshing change of pace. It also fits his character as someone who has put his wild partying days behind him to become a devoted father to his two adopted kids. Having experienced hard knocks in his younger days, Isaac wants to give some kids what he didn’t have back in those days, and it’s nice to see him actually making time do what he says he would do. Most romances that have the loving taking place in the workplace often end up like textbook examples of how a man can get sued for sexual harassment, but Harmony Evans manages to show here that one can serve up a sexy romance within a workplace setting without making me cringe.
As for Autumn… I guess this is where I have better point out that Autumn is a bit of a subversion of the romance heroine archetype. She can compartmentalize work and play very well – unusually so for a romance heroine – and she can sleep with the hero while still keeping a cool head and going “Hmm…!” if she feels that he is acting suspicious. Most romance heroines, whether they are spies or secret agents, usually start insisting to themselves that the hero is absolutely innocent – he has to be! – after they have slept with that man, but not Autumn. She is perfectly fine with not seeing him again after this assignment is over, although it won’t be easy, since she really likes him. She has a job to do, and she intends to follow through with this. Autumn’s attitude may rub some readers the wrong way, as she’s being a romance hero here, so to speak, when it comes to her attitude about her work and her sleeping with the mark. On my part, I like this, mostly because it’s such a nice change to see a smart and capable heroine actually not letting sex with a guy make her lose her head completely among the clouds.
Her attitude about sex and guys as well as Isaac’s ability to listen and think without jumping the gun allows the denouement and the resolution to take place in a wonderfully low-key note that still manages to underscore my belief that these two would be all right in the long run.
Now, my issues with this book. Now, Isaac is facing sexual harassment from the boss’s daughter. He tries to keep things professional and low-key while avoiding her advances the best he can, and I can respect that. However, I’m not sure why he insists on putting up with her and the need to keep the fact that he has adopted two kids a secret. Can a company fire someone for adopting some kids without informing the boss? I’m not well-versed with how things work in America, but I wonder. Also, if Isaac is indeed “one of the most profitable brokers in Wall Street” like the author claims he is, I can’t imagine why he is so desperate to hold on to this job. If he’s as good as he is said to be and he hands in his resignation, I’m sure he won’t be out of a job for long. Isaac’s insistence that he needs to keep his job for the sake of his kids doesn’t ring real to me. Also, there is this unfortunate implication that Isaac needs that much money to raise two kids. Sure, having lots of money makes parenting easier for everyone, but there are people who have succeeded in raising happy, healthy, and well-adjusted kids without needing a salary as high as Isaac’s. That guy comes off as too passive for his own good.
And then there is that sexual harassing other woman. The author pretty much takes a jackhammer to poor Felicia’s character. She shrieks, snarls, stomps, and generally acts like a deranged shrew around the place, to the point that the author may as well just hang a sign around Felicia’s neck saying, “Watch out! Deranged harpy on the loose!” The poor dear also has her hair not matching her curtains, and we all in romance novels that any woman who applies any cosmetic enhancement to augment her beauty is a skank incarnate. Put down that lipstick, girl, or you will become the open house party at the meat factory! Anyway, a woman can be a villain without being turned into a caricature, but making Felicia a cartoon villain what the author has done here. Poor Felicia belongs to a cartoon with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, and the poor dear seems to have lost her way and ended up in this story by mistake.
Still, there is a fun romance here with a nice couple, and yes, the love scenes are hot. Well, I guess I can be nice this once – I did have a good time reading When Morning Comes – so I’ll be easy on the flaws this time.