by Yahrah St John, contemporary (2012)
Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86275-7
Formula For Passion concludes Yahrah St John's trilogy that started with Need You Now. Do note that, while this book can stand alone quite well, it references events that happened in Need You Now, so reading this book before that one will spoil that book.
This one features the coupling of Courtney Adams, the beautiful model and spokesperson for her family's business Adams Cosmetics, and Jasper Jackson, the estranged son of the family's archenemy Andrew Jackson. If you have read the previous two books, you will know that Andrew has been hard at work trying to sabotage the operations of Adam Cosmetics. Coutney and Jasper meet when she is in the Dominican Republic for a photo shoot to promote the release of the company's new perfume.
Since this is a Kimani romance, of course she sleeps with the owner and manager of the resort where she stays, because the sky will open and lightning will strike everyone associated with Harlequin Kimani dead six times over if these people dare come up with a different kind of plot.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, another heroine sleeps with another resort owner in another story with foreign sun and sun. Still, Jasper is pretending to be construction worker (he wants to investigate a potential sabotage at the construction site of his resort), so there is some suspense as to whether the shoe will drop before or after he has sex with Courtney. Oh, who am I kidding. You know Courtney will realize that she's shagging the son of the family archenemy from another person instead of Jasper and the crap will hit the roof. This story is not exactly brimming with originality - the author isn't even introducing twists that are a little bit different here. Everything here has been done to death so many times before already. It doesn't help that the author serves the story with all the grace of a lumbering lummox.
So much pointless repetition here. For example, early in the story I am told several times of Jasper's sad story - his mother was prevented from seeing him except once in a blue moon once she was separated from Andrew because Andrew held all the financial strings in that sorry relationship, et cetera. And then, later, he will repeat the same story in its entirety to Courtney. Courtney will subsequently repeat the same story again, almost verbatim, to her family in the next few pages. Come on, does the author believe that everyone reading this story has short-term memory or something? And that's just one of the many things that gets repeated so often here for reasons only the author will know.
While the author loves to repeat herself, she seems allergic to describing other things that would have enhanced the flavor of the story. For example, during the first date of Jasper and Courtney, I'm told that these two had fabulous conversations throughout the night. Won't it be better if the author had shown me this instead by having these two characters actually conversing in that fabulous manner? If the author had cut down on all that repetition and used the freed-up space to show me things instead of just telling me, this one would have been a far more polished read.
Having said all that, this one is actually the best of the three books in the trilogy. It doesn't have as many logic-defying moments as the previous two books, both of which suffered from at least one gaping wide plot hole that made it hard for me to take them seriously from the get go.
Also, I like how Courtney makes an effort to get Jasper to stew a bit before she takes him back. Now, I understand why he keeps his real identity from her when he's not thinking of them as anything more than a holiday fling - in fact, I wonder whether he should be telling her his real name when he's supposed to be undercover. But he deserves to be put on the hot seat a bit when the silly boy keeps the deception going after deciding that he'd like to have something more with her. This is all storm in a teacup, though. Jasper's deception isn't petty or malicious in nature - that guy is just being silly, so the author correctly keeps the blow-up to a minimum without having both characters behaving in a daft melodramatic manner. In fact, Jasper's first reaction upon having his cover blown is to contact Courtney and clear the air. I like this.
The resolution of the feud between Adams and Jackson is a bit too much for me, as the whole thing is akin to a dysfunctional family being mediated by a camera-conscious shrink on a daytime talk show, but I guess things could be worse. This one could have degenerated into unintentionally funny and utterly ridiculous bad melodrama like the previous two books in the trilogy.
Ultimately, execution problems bog this book down the most. This one reads like an unpolished first draft that should have been ruthlessly exorcised of all the tired use of clichés, unnecessary repetitiveness, and misguiding telling instead of showing. The author's unpolished and often graceless writing style is the main reason why it can be hard to get into this book, and everything else is minor irritation that just adds to the problem.
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