by Michelle Monkou, contemporary (2012)
Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86287-0
Marc Newton is one of the hardest working race-drivers in town, but he's a bit of an outsider because there are folks in the race circuit who believe that he hadn't paid his dues yet to become this successful. Still, that only drives him to push himself further. He may have pushed himself too far, however, when his new sponsor insists that he gets a thorough medical check-up after a recent injury.
He hopes to charm Dr Erin Wilson into giving him a glowing medical report so that he can go back to racing, but she insists that he spends more time away from the race track to let his injuries heal. He decides that he won't go down that easily, and she is determined to get her way as well. The game is on.
Racing Hearts has at its very core the age-old story of two stubborn people apparently at odds with one another even as they can't wait to tear their clothes off. It's a very well done one too, as Erin gives as good as she gets, and both characters play off each other beautifully without being too immature about things. Marc driving himself so hard may make little sense on paper, but given his background and personality in this story, of course it's only right that he won't do things any other way.
At the end of the day, this story is about compromises, as she can't accept at first his choice of career and he's not willing to entertain a life outside the track. It's nice that these two manage to find a middle ground without one person having to give up everything - the happily ever after feels more real that way.
Thing is, the author also has a tendency to use this story as her personal soapbox about the rotten state of pharmaceutical salespeople (there's a reason why so many of them end up on Survivor) and other matters. Her enthusiasm is commendable, and I actually agree with her on many things, but I could do without having the author bludgeon me with the subtlety of a jackhammer on the head. Me, I'd have preferred to enjoy the story of Erin and Marc without all the distracting theatrics from the author's pulpit.
Still, it's always nice to find a pleasant and enjoyable story from the Kimani line these days, especially one with a focused approach (no aimless filler scenes) and secondary characters that actually add value to the story. There may be hope for that line yet.
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