Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86425-6
Contemporary Romance, 2015
Wrapped in Red is the usual Christmas anthology – or duology in this case – designed to allow readers to give the publisher and the authors some extra money to buy new shoes or something. Like most Christmas indulgences, this one may just make everyone feel a little sheepish and even regretful when the morning comes.
Nana Malone starts off the show with Mistletoe Mantra. While she is not a debut author by any means, Nana Malone’s debut contribution to Kimani reads like a desperate show of hand that she can be counted on by the editors to know the Kimani tropes by heart. This is because this short story is basically a kitchen sink of all those tropes.
Nomi Adams reluctantly comes back to Faith, Virginia – she left after her fiancé dumped her for a moneyed floozie – to locate Nolan Polk, a reclusive photograph well known for his raw, honest, and intimate photographs. She works for a magazine who needs Nolan’s photographs for a feature, and she’d get a promotion if she succeeds. Meanwhile, she reunites with Lincoln Porter, her BFF’s younger brother who has always had a crush on her. He has been burned by love, before, and yes, he’s Nolan Polk. But he wants to know that Nomi wants him for him and not because he’s Nolan, however, so he… yes, you guess it, sleeps with her and then she finds out about him being Nolan after that. Meanwhile, the author really, really wants to impress the editors because she includes their favorite plot devices, the Evil Whores, twice here. Nomi’s rival is in town after Nolan too, and yes, she’s the one who forces Nolan identity’s out in the open after Nomi (rather stupidly, if you ask me, since she has no reason to) agrees to keep Nolan’s real identity wrapped up a little longer. (Hey, don’t say I spoiled the story – if you have read any story with similar story line, you will know that this “twist” is coming.) Oh, and Nolan’s ex is also his manager and she is pure cartoon evil.
Linc is a super wuss in this story. There are beta males, and then there are whiny, annoying, needy, self-absorbed emotional black holes, and Linc is the latter sort. He does all kinds of stupid things, plays weird mind games with Nomi, and when she rightfully calls him on his crap, he blames his ex for his neurotic personality. Nomi is pretty smart in that she refuses to take any crap from Linc, and she rightfully sees through most of his whiny antics for what they are – whiny antics. But she hooks up with him in the end anyway! What is she thinking?
Oh, and the whole story is ridiculous. If Nolan has a manager, how come no one knows about this manager? Instead, Nomi had been chasing the PR agent, when I’d think it’d be make more sense to contact the manager directly. After all, they want to use Nolan’s photos. If Nolan’s ex is as much money-grubbing whore as the author would like me to believe, she won’t be against licensing out some of Nolan’s photos to the magazine. Therefore, the entire story doesn’t really have to take place, as there is no reason for Nomi to approach Nolan directly when he already has a manager.
Sherelle Green is next with White Hot Holiday. Sage Langley, a professor, is surly and mean about Christmas, because she just got dumped. She makes children cry when they overhear her telling off an annoying Santa Claus who is egging her to donate money to charity. (For some odd reason, Sage is portrayed as the bad person here when it’s clear that the Santa guy is being an annoying pest because she refuses to give him a donation. Since when is anyone obligated to donate money to charity?) Never mind, she goes off to a nice holiday, where she gets shagged happily ever after by her brother’s best friend – OH, CLICHÉ ALERT! – and she becomes a much happier person again. See, people? A woman needs a penis in her life to be happy.
This one doesn’t suffer from a fundamental flaw in the premise like the previous story, but on the other hand, nothing interesting happens here. White Hot Holiday is a short version of every other Kimani story that features the heroine’s brother’s hot best friend and a holiday getaway, and the whole thing is a yawner. The title of the story is a big fat lie.
Wrapped in Red is all about unimaginative and uninspired use of overused tropes, to the point that calling it ‘played out’ may just be an understatement.