by Beverly Jenkins, historical (2013)
Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-203264-5
Mariah Cooper is awesome at what she does. Of course she is, because we can't have a heroine who is less than pristine nowadays. Anyway, Mariah is very good at designing and creating dresses and what not, a fact that her mother puts to good use for her establishment. Unfortunately, the mother also uses Mariah as her punching bag because that woman is pure evil and Mariah is very good at enduring.
One day, Mariah gets slapped one time too many and she decides that something has to be done. So, she goes off to her aunt, who apparently lives in the same town and sits by the sidelines quietly, waiting for Mariah to come to her. How convenient. The aunt arranges for Mariah to leave Philadelphia, so now that young lady is off to play the housekeeper for Destiny, a ranch in California owned by the Yates and run by our hero, Logan.
Beverly Jenkins's Destiny's Embrace is so singularly one-dimensional that the whole thing is as flat as pancakes after the steamroller had done its thing on them a few times.
Mariah is said to be a doormat in the past - and she has to be, having been abused for years by her mother and still staying with that woman for so long - and she is now determined to be a feisty woman determined to be in control of her own life. That's nice, but her transformation from mouse to lioness is so effortless that it's hard to believe that she could ever be a doormat. Mariah is a standard heroine from Beverly Jenkins: in this case, intelligent, proud, capable, and all around awesome with the understandable determination of wanting to be independent being a stumbling stone to the happily ever after. But in the context of her supposed personality in this story, Mariah just doesn't work as a character.
Logan is a standard hero by this author, and it's a case of if I have come across one of these guys, I've seen everything about them. Not every interesting either, that guy.
The romance is pretty standard as well, with little out of the ordinary happening. The characters rarely suffer from genuine doubt or insecurity, and the villains are obvious so there is hardly any suspense there. The hero and the heroine have a relationship that is basically when awesome and fabulous collide (and put me to sleep). The secondary characters are all either totally good or totally evil, with nothing in between. Incidentally, promiscuity is listed under virtue this time around because the good guys are all doing that.
At any rate, by the last page, I feel more relieved than anything else - this thing is over, and now I can move on with my life. Very little about Destiny's Embrace feels alive or interesting - this book is almost robotic in how it clanks forward like a doldrums machine to the finish line.
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