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When it comes to books, I’m often drawn to superficialities. I’ve resisted reading romances that my friends have gone gaga over, simply because the hero on the cover has a Russian-figure-skater mullet or the heroine is the grown-up version of the class bully from my elementary school. My book club still hasn’t forgiven me for forcing them to slog their way through an interminable, 500-page funeral dirge of a novel, because when it was my turn I’d chosen a book based solely on its elegantly embossed cover art.
And when I got an envelope full of Kimani Romances this month, it was Angie Daniels’ "Before I Let You Go" that rose to the top of my to-be-reviewed pile. Why? Just LOOK at that man on the cover. Helllooooo, gorgeous.
Fortunately, Daniels is a terrific writer -- once my head cleared, I realized I actually knew this, having read her stuff before -- and the story more than lived up to the “Kimani Hottie” in the picture.
When devoted schoolteacher Kellis Saunders spends a rare night out at Wilmington, Delaware’s hottest new nightclub, Ja’Net, she’s drawn to a handsome stranger she spots walking among the crowd -- so drawn, she barely glances at the NFL football player her sister-in-law points out on the dance floor.
When the man approaches their table, Kellis is stunned to discover he’s actually her old high-school crush, Diamere Redmond, now the owner of Ja’Net. Her sister-in-law has set her up.
While “crush” might seem like a superficial word, there was nothing superficial about the way Kellis felt about Diamere. In high school, he’d been good friends with her brother, Mark, and she’d pined away for the older boy in silence for years, even after they’d all graduated and Mark had joined the military.
But Diamere had never noticed her -- until one night when Mark came home for the holidays and invited him to a family gathering. The way Diamere had looked at and flirted with her had seemed like so much more than friendship. But just a few days later, he’d announced that his girlfriend was pregnant with twins, and they were getting married. With that, Kellis firmly shut the door on her hopes for the two of them.
But now, Kellis learns that Diamere has been divorced for a year. And that fact forces her to confront old feelings that apparently have refused to die. While part of her wants desperately to prove to him that they’re meant to be, the other part is scared to death. Though he starts flirting up a storm the minute he lays eyes on her, he’s quick to point out that he doesn’t want “the emotional attachment that comes with relationships.”
Looking at his nightclub-manager lifestyle -- down to the Hooters-style uniforms on the waitresses -- Kellis has no reason to disbelieve him. He already broke her heart once -- does she really want to give him the opportunity to do it again?
Daniels has an array of strengths in her writers’ arsenal, among them her signature snappy voice, an emotion-driven conflict that sucks the reader in and love scenes so smoking, they’ll scorch your fingers as you turn the pages. If you have a pair of oven mitts handy, then stop admiring the cover and …
Buy the book.
People seem to have strong feelings about reunion romances, either loving or, in the case of a small-but-vocal minority, loathing them. How do you feel about them? I love them! And when choosing a book to read, have you ever let a great cover steer you way, way wrong?
****To score a pdf of the smokin' 2010 Kimani Hotties calendar, shoot your email addy to firstname.lastname@example.org. Toss KIMANI HOTTIES in the subject line, please.