by Deborah Fletcher Mello, contemporary (2012)
Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86270-2
Before I begin, let me say that there are minor spoilers in this review. I don't believe that they will destroy anyone's sense of anticipation and suspense when it comes to this book, but hey, better safe than sorry. You know what to do if you intend to read this book some time in the future.
So, Forever A Stallion. If you have been following the series, you will know that it is not about a family of porn stars, and doing things like "seducing a Stallion" and "making love to a Stallion" will not get anyone arrested. The Stallions are a bunch of super beautiful and amazingly rich people who also make love like an exploding volcano. So far, all four Stallions featured in their own books have been men, I guess because such awesomeness can only be carried in the Y chromosome.
However, we have Phaedra Parrish here who discovers that, through her mother's personal The Bridges Of Madison County story, she is actually a Stallion. What, do you expect a Stallion man to fail to impregnate any woman that crosses his path? With this being a small world, she knows someone who has an in with the Stallions, so the next thing I know, she's telling her story to them and they are tentatively welcoming her into the fold.
There's also love in the air. Mason Boudreaux III, who recently sold his hotel chains to the Stallions for an amount of money that we mortals can only dream of having, is more than happy to help Phaedra get acquainted with her newly upgraded lifestyle, preferably hands on.
There are some rather unfortunate implications when it comes to Phaedra's parents. You see, her father James and the man's wife Irene (yes, he was married when he boinked Phaedra's mother) separated briefly when Irene, in her loneliness caused by her husband's frequent absence in her life, almost had an affair. The man assumed that his wife did have an affair, and within two months, he's boinking Phaedra's mother Arneta. But then he walked out on Arneta to get back with the wife, and Phaedra's mother never told the man of their daughter because we all know that child support is only for greedy whores.
What's unfortunate about this story is that Arneta eventually married a man who spends most of his time in prison and, from Phaedra's reflections, is a pretty crappy father. Oh, and Arneta remained heartbroken over James until the day she died. Irene discovered that her almost-lover was up to no good, and she never did sleep with that man anyway. On the other hand, James happily slept with another woman within two months of walking out on Arneta, then ditched Arneta for his wife again, and he never had to face any repercussions for his actions. It is the women who have to pay in such situation. How predictable, and how clichéd, sigh.
The romance is pretty decent, although there's little time spent on Mason and Phaedra. They are both rather standard characters that don't get much development because the author spends more time focusing on the above soap opera of Phaedra's parentage and various scenes designed to either sell me the books of the secondary characters or remind me how ridiculously happy, beautiful, amazing, and awesome they are. I'm also a bit confused by how everyone seems to treat Phaedra with cotton gloves. For heaven's sake, she may not be used to the lifestyle of the impossibly rich, but there's no reason why everyone acts like she'd be crushed if she takes a wrong turn. It's not like she's handling weapons of mass destruction for the first time.
The second half of the story is more interesting, but for the wrong reasons. By this point, there is nothing to stand between Phaedra and Mason when it comes to the happily ever after, so the author abruptly introduces a hilarious and over-the-top plot involving kidnapping, crazy obsessed women, and desperate men in need of money in Thailand. There is nothing in the previous half of the book to suggest that there would be a suspense plot of this, er, colorful nature, so I'm taken by surprise by the whole thing. It's as if the author had run out of reasons to keep the story going, and there were some considerable pages to fill before she reached the word count, so she decided to just let loose and toss in a "suspense" subplot straight out of a soap opera.
While this subplot leads to some entertaining moments due to how over the top it is, it doesn't add anything to the romance. The characters of Mason and Phaedra as well as their romance are still on the half-baked side. Phaedra doesn't interact with her new family members enough to make this story a satisfying family drama. At the end of the day, Forever A Stallion seems to be a muddled result of the author's indecision when it comes to what she wanted this story to be.
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