Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86349-5
Contemporary Romance, 2014
Wrangling Wes is the first book in a multi-author series called The Browards of Montana. I’m assuming that spin-offs involving that family in every state in America are in the works. It’s also interesting how Jacquelin Thomas shows up in so many of such multi-author series for Kimani. She must really be able to sell many books to be asked to contribute to these series, because, often, her more placid “tell more than show” style of storytelling clashes noticeably with other authors in such series, usually making her story the odd duck out.
So, the Browards. They are the wealthiest ranchers in Montana, because it ain’t romantic if everyone’s not the best and ultimate in everything. Oh, and they are all gorgeous too, naturally. Because they are gorgeous and wealthy, they are a staple in tabloids and what not even when they don’t star in their own reality TV show, get drunk, are caught snorting coke in public, or flash their private bits while getting out of their limos. As a result, Wes Broward is generally wary when it comes to women, because they are all after his money or his family name. The poor baby. How can he survive when he’s drowning in so many superficial hoochies?
When the story opens, Wes takes part in a charity auction and is sold for $10,000 to a hot newcomer in town, Lydia Emerson. Of course, he has to test her first by taking her to some honky-tonk place to eat – if she’s like, “Hell no, what a cheap date!” that means she’s automatically a shallow hoochie hot enough to pork but not good enough to bring home to the parents. Fortunately, Lydia passes the test by acting all humble and pleased, because I don’t want to know what kind of tests he would put his dates through next should they flunk this first test.
And what kind of weirdo tests his date this way? Kimani romance heroes, course, what a dreamy lot they all are.
Wes is convinced at last that this woman is the first honest tart he’d ever been with since forever. He can fall in love with her! Marry her!
Only, Lydia is here under a false name on behalf of her employer. I won’t say why she’s here, I’ll just say that the reason she’s here is so eye-rolling stupid that Lydia comes off as an imbecile for not suspecting that there is more than meets the eye where her employer is concerned. At any rate, what happens when Wes discovers Lydia’s deception? Even better, what happens when he adds one plus one to get “DAMN IT, YOU LIED TO ME YOU HO! I’M NOT TALKING TO YOU ANYMORE, YOU SLAG!”?
Wrangling Wes is a pretty pleasant read when these two are going through the pleasantly dating phase, but the plot is a pretty dumb one in the first place, and the last quarter or so of the story is a long episode of jumping to wrong conclusions and refusing to communicate. This is, therefore, the rare book where the middle is the best part when usually it’s the middle that sags.
The story starts out pretty awful due to Wes’s creepy “I must test all the woman I date to see if they meet my high standards” personality and ends pretty awfully too due to Wes’s blaming of the heroine for their communication breakdown when he is just as responsible for the whole mess. I mean, he talks a lot about wanting to trust Lydia and needing her to trust him, but the one time this trust is tested, during the denouement of this story, he fails miserably. If the author is aiming for some kind of irony here – the man obsessed with measuring women to see whether they are worthy of his trust ends up flunking the first and only test of his trust that comes his way – this may be an amusing development, but the author seems deadly sober throughout the whole thing. I guess she doesn’t share my opinion of how much of a control freak Wes comes off as here.
At any rate, Wrangling Wes is a tedious and dull read due to the author’s use of the whole tired communication breakdown plot development that is long played out. For all of Wes’s obsession with finding a woman that meets his standards, the story ends with him coming off as the one who is unworthy of the woman he chooses to breed with.