by Jacquelin Thomas, contemporary (2013)
Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86296-2
Ssh, don't tell anyone, but Blaze Alexander - no, not a porn star, honest - and Livi Carlyle are married. Well, it was a Vegas thing, and she fled soon after, and he didn't even know her last name. Still, she's constantly on his mind, so who knows, maybe it's love after all.
As it turns out, she and he move in the same circles. In fact, it's almost uncanny how close they are to each other and yet never really bumping into each other until that day they got married! Their jobs make sure that they meet again, and both parties now waffle and wring their hands while secondary characters - of course, these characters will get their books next - chew scenery and play cheerleaders for Livi and Blaze to mack lips and get married.
As with this author's recent efforts, Five Star Romance is a story that is told almost entirely with minimal showing. I'm told of these characters' past, I'm told of their daily activities that are often irrelevant to the plot, and these characters don't talk to each other - they tell me things that they should already know.
With the narrative resembling rigor mortis in motion, it's unsurprising that Livi and Blaze end up as cardboard characters without any resemblance to actual human beings. These characters are often inconsistent in their behavior, often acting and saying things to keep the "let's not get really married yet" charade going.
Livi, in particular, seems deranged because of the author's fondness of pegging simplistic adjectives like "sad" on her. For example, she would burst into tears while reflecting on some sad mental condition that she believes Blaze to be suffering from, and in the next paragraph, she would be frowning as if she hadn't been wailing like a banshee on psychoactive drugs just a while back. The author would then have Livi feeling "sad" the next instance, I guess maybe because she wasn't sad enough when she burst into tears earlier.
And throughout it all, poor Livi doesn't have a good reason why she shouldn't marry Blaze, so the whole story ends up being a tale of a nitwit taking her time to come to the obvious conclusion. To be fair, Livi has a pretty decent - not good, but decent, especially for a romance heroine - reason to fly the coop the first time around. But she subsequently refused to contact Blaze pretty much because she doesn't want to love a man who doesn't love her back. It doesn't occur to her to check whether their marriage in Vegas is binding. In fact, Livi doesn't do anything here. She's basically carried along the story by Blaze and sequel baits, with these people also often making her decisions for her.
Also, Livi doesn't make much sense as a character. She is said to be a woman who had spent some time working and mingling in Blaze's privileged social circles, and yet, she behaves like a clueless gasping goldfish whenever Blaze takes her around town. I guess the author is going for the whole "cute fish out of water" angle with Livi, but, given Livi's background, her behavior doesn't make sense. Unless I'm to assume that Livi is a dumb dingbat, that is.
Yes, Five Star Romance is a joyless bore of a read, but it's worse than that, because I feel that the author was just making things up as she went along. How else can one explain all those inconsistencies and character discontinuity in this story?
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