by Kimberly Kaye Terry, contemporary (2011)
Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86205-4
With family relatives like Aunt Lilly, Yasmine Taylor doesn't need enemies. Our heroine has recently won the Top Young Chef award, which opens the doors to the possibility of her having her own cooking show. She is finally getting somewhere... so her aunt calls her up and asks her to come back to the Wyoming Wilde ranch, using her upcoming surgery as an excuse to get Yasmine "home" and settle down with her childhood crush Holt Wilde. To Aunt Lilly, it seems like Yasmine's only successful when she's married to a man picked by that woman.
Is Holt a nice gentleman with oodles of money and gallantry? The money is a given - this is, after all, a romance novel - but the gallantry part is suspect. Holt has some predictable issues with women that have him treating them like Kleenex - to be disposed of after use - and he treats Yasmine hot and cold. When he finally decides to have her on his own terms, he tries to pressure her to give up her dreams and stay in that podunk ranch of his. In fact, this whole story is one giant ball of contrivance to show me, the reader, that Yasmine should have stayed home and put those baby-makin' hips to use like the good book intended.
To give Ms Terry some credit, Yasmine is a pretty sensible woman who in the end negotiates with the people in the big evil city so that she can still have a career while popping out brats and doing Holt's laundry. Unfortunately, this is just a small consolation as her decision to stay in the Wyoming Wilde ranch validates Holt's initial bull-headed jerk behavior and Aunt Lilly's entire obnoxious existence. Yasmine is the one who has to change completely in order to be with Holt. There are no compromises needed on his part - the woman is the one who has to uproot her entire life to be with him.
This won't be so bad if the decision was entirely voluntary on Yasmine's part. Unfortunately, from pretty much the first page, this story is beating me in the head that Yasmine staying with the hero and hitching her entire life to his instead of carving out a separate identity for herself is the way to go. Aunt Lilly plots for Yasmine to stay, Holt wants her to stay because it's the most convenient thing for him, and the author pulls out the tired "twist" of Yasmine realizing that people from the big evil city are all out to use her so she really should settle down with Holt and enable yet another boring stereotypical cowboy hero with issues.
The rest of the story is so distressingly predictable and formulaic that this balling and chaining of Yasmine to a more traditional idea of femininity is the only noteworthy thing about this book. And ain't that a pity, since I don't belong to the group of readers that will appreciate this kind of idea. Emo cowboys can go scrub my toilet clean if they can't stop being big crybabies long enough to get over themselves.
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