by Wayne Jordan, contemporary (2013)
Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0373862997
Wayne Jordan walks a fine line in I'll Stand By You - it doesn't have much in terms of plot, but the whole thing manages to remain a captivating read. On paper, this would be another one of those Kimani books that have very little action and plenty of sequel bait overloading. What it turns out to be is something else altogether, something good.
The story is pretty basic. Eboni Wynter, our firefighter heroine, falls for her neighbor Darren Grayson, and that's pretty much it. He has some trust issues, so does she, as they have both been burned before by relationships with other people. She's also trying to locate her sisters who are separated from her after the death of their parents. This angle naturally introduces several family members pretty much wearing a sign around the neck saying "My book is next!" Yes, that's about it where the synopsis of the story is concerned.
Yet, nothing here feels like padding or scenes contrived to introduce sequel baits. Everything fits together nicely. The main characters are likable types with believable insecurities, and they have good chemistry and sexual tension. Conversations flow smoothly, barring a few cheesy declarations of love, and there is a nice balance of humor and drama here. Secondary characters fit into the story too, showing up and actually playing their respective roles in the whole thing instead of deliberately making cameo appearances to promote their upcoming book.
It's just icing on the cake that Darren's first marriage was portrayed in a refreshingly normal light. Sometimes marriages break apart because things just aren't working out, and this is what happens here. The ex-wife isn't a jealous cartoon villain, just someone normal.
The only issue I have here is how, now and then, the author introduces weird tangents into his narrative. For example, Darren thinks about how lonely his apartment is now that he's spending more time with Eboni, only to suddenly tell me that he's paid a fortune to have his apartment renovated and furbished. That's nice, dear, but I'm not interested in the brand of the bed, just what you guys do on it, thanks. At any rate, there is a rough around the edges feel to the narrative that brings the story down a bit.
I'll Stand By You is, all things considered, a pretty enjoyable cozy romance.
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