by Kimberly Kaye Terry, contemporary (2008)
Aphrodisia, $12.95, ISBN 978-0-7582-2249-7
Just Like Candy has two potential hot button issues for readers who may or may not like them: this is an interracial romance between a white guy and a Black woman, for one, and the guy is pushing forty while she is in her early twenties. If you are fine with both elements, however, buckle up for the ride.
Candice Cain, or Candy, is a free-spirited young woman who, despite encountering many hard knocks in life, has worked her way into getting a psychology degree and becoming the director of Girls Unlimited, a center for young ladies from poor families to learn useful skills that will prepare them for the rat race when they grow up. When she's not making improvements to the center and teaching her charges how to make scented soaps and such, she's dreaming of a real man to please her in and out of bed.
Davis Strong, the nephew of the former director and currently one of the board members of Girls Unlimited, however, isn't as confident of Candy's abilities as the rest of the board members and his aunt. Of course, he may be biased. He's very attracted to her despite his reservations about her youth and her lack of, shall we say, formal carriage when it comes to her fashion sense and philosophy. He also feels guilty about lusting after another woman despite the fact that his wife died seven years ago. Meanwhile, his nine-year old daughter Angelica is being bratty and he doesn't know how to deal with her. If you cannot guess how the story will progress from here, hi, you must be new to the genre. How are you enjoying yourself so far?
I like Candy. After all, I always adore heroines who can take care of themselves without being an emotional or financial mess in the process, and Candy is definitely one such heroine. Unfortunately, she's stuck in a familiar story line that is not very interesting at the end of the day.
It's pretty tepid enough that this story is a familiar "My new mommy fixes everything up!" one, but the author also puts in a large number of clichés that do not do the story any favors. Poor Gail, the dead wife, didn't just pull a number that is typical of unoriginal dead wives in this genre, she is also unnecessarily described as a "passionless" person who doesn't put out like a hottie the way Candy does. There is a jealous woman here who is not happy that Candy is getting to lay her hands all over Davis. And on and on the clichés just keep coming. I'm simply not moved to feel any enthusiasm for this story because, barring the refreshingly independent and strong heroine, everything here feels depressingly familiar.
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