Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Rapper's Delight by Kenya Goree Bell


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Rapper's Delight by Kenya Goree Bell
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Tragedy separated them for twelve years…

Can they finally have the love promised?

Or will betrayal be their undoing.

Welcome to the world of The Mogul Series where the Young, Gifted and Black are met with intrigue and passion. Where fame is no guarantee of happiness but love may hold all the possibilities.

Meet Delightful Howard and FADE Carrington as they embark on a journey that promises passion as they try to reclaim what they lost in RAPPER’S DELIGHT.

FADE is the biggest rap star in the world and he has everything he ever wanted but his best friend’s sister.

Delightful Howard is coming off the biggest win any writer can imagine but she will never rest until she knows all the secrets FADE holds.

Promises were made

Now it’s time to deliver.

STOP F*cking Running.


Enter the world of The Mogul Series where smart women and ruthless men collide...
Power
Fame
Music
Passion


First off, a special thank you to the author for this review copy.

Let’s talk about what I liked. I appreciated the overall theme of the novel. There aren’t a lot of contemporary books that have rap or hip hop as the theme. I also liked that women were at the helm of the businesses in the story. I love seeing that “girl power” front and center. I also liked that the story followed the Friends-to-enemies-to-lovers trope. I’ve grown an affinity for Friends-to-lovers and enemies-to-lovers will always be my jam. But it’s in this attempt at the trope that the story somewhat lost me.

What I didn’t like: Fade and Delightful were childhood friends because of her brother Justice’s relationship with Fade. They created music together, and as a result, the hero and heroine developed a “crush” type of relationship. That part is left off the page, but the heroine promises forever to our hero—and when tragedy strikes, she distances herself for twelve years. Twelve years later, they’re both operating in a place of hurt and anger. The reasoning behind their mutual anger is a little murky. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the reasoning behind Fade’s anger never felt right to me. However, considering they both lost someone dear to them, maybe rationality can't be an expected response. 

But the way he deals with Delightful because of this twelve years long anger rubbed me the wrong way, at least for a good chunk of the story. He was very curt, my way or no way—and I love a grumpy hero, but he came off more so rude than grumpy. 

The characters found themselves falling into each other’s beds more than into an exploration of their feelings, which left me feeling a bit outside of the story. I never got the chance to explore their emotional connection like I would have liked. There are anger and angst, but nothing remotely romantic, not until the very section of the book. I never fully got into their relationship dynamic, which was pretty toxic, to be honest. It felt obligatory more so than based on an emotional connection, but I think that’s because, again, they had a lot of sexual chemistry, but the feelings bit had them both flummoxed.

I wanted to love this story more than I did, but unfortunately, I did not. It had more to do with structure than writing talent, which I didn’t find lacking. However, I never deter another reader from giving a book a try. If you prefer romances that are angsty, and very heavy-handed on the sex, this will be the read for you. It lacked the emotional punch I craved.



Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Writer's Block by Honesty Price

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Writer's Block by Honesty Price
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Keri writes romance, well, she used to write romance since right now the words aren't flowing. In desperate need of a change of scenery and a quiet place to write, she seeks out Noah who’s secluded county home has plenty of room. The attraction is instant, but the pay-off is delayed. Will Noah be the cure for Keri's writer's block?










I adored this. The chapters and the pacing of the story followed the "beats" of a romance novel which was both fitting and clever. The beats moved a little too quickly at certain points of the book, but the author does a decent job of making sure not to miss the most important details. My only gripe is I would have loved to see this play out throughout a full-length novel, but I know beggars can’t be choosers. *shrugs shoulders* 

What worked for the novel was the humor. I laughed aloud a few times. The story itself is very playful and like shirking off your bra at the end of the day. It was easy to settle into the pace and the characters without having to forfeit too much energy.

For my first time with this author, I was impressed. There were parts I would have loved to see developed more, but considering the length of the novel, the author did enough to sell me on the characters and to get me invested in their story. It’s thoroughly enjoyable, and I had a lot of fun with it. It’s worth checking out, and she's an author to watch.



Monday, June 29, 2020

Go Deep by Rilzy Adams

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Go Deep by Rilzy Adams
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It was all supposed to be so simple.
Navaya Howard is an erotic writer in a rut. Her readers are fed up of her stale plots and Navaya can’t blame them. She’s been celibate for over a year and a half since finding her now ex-boyfriend’s side chick’s positive pregnancy test on her bathroom counter. How can she write steamy romances if she can barely remember which body parts go into the other? 
Navaya enlists the help of her best friend, Xander, to revive the inspiration that used to have her sitting comfortably at the top of her game. What happens when the sex hits deeper than either of them expected and we can deny the tender emotions? 
Navaya and Xander’s arrangement has gone far deeper than intended. 
Will their friendship and their hearts survive the fall?
I’m not new to Rilzy Adams in terms of her presence or name, but this is the first book I’ve read by the author, and I waited too long to do that. 

Let me tell you if you know me whether it be from Goodreads or my early blogging days—you know how sparingly I give five-star ratings. Not because I’m some book reviewing savant. Though considering my many years of reading and reviewing books, I like to think I know some things. My tastes aren’t as particular as people tend to think they are. I reserve five-star ratings for books that truly rock my socks off. Go Deep did just that. 

Even at novella length, Adams gave us a complete romance that lacked nothing. It was full-bodied like a glass of wine. It was one harmonizing song that rose and fell where it needed to. The characters were fully developed without any unnecessary hoopla. The pair just worked. Their story was oddly comforting. I’ve come to appreciate the friends-to-lovers trope a bit more than I have before. Go Deep is a perfect friends-to-lovers tale that combines sexual satisfaction with equal parts of emotional satisfaction. I smiled at the cleverness the entire time. I’m sad it had to end. This story was thoroughly pleasing, amusing, sexy, and wholly gratifying. Rilzy has made a fan out of me, and I’ll be back for more.


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert


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Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
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Talia Hibbert returns with another charming romantic comedy about a young woman who agrees to fake date her friend after a video of him “rescuing” her from their office building goes viral...

Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom. 

When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse? 

Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his... um, thighs. 

Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?
*A special thank you to the publisher for this review copy.*

If I had only a small number of words to describe Take a Hint, Dani Brown—I would say it was uproariously funny, realistically romantic, and warm like a hug from a toddler or a fresh cookie out of the oven.

I’m not typically one for “cinnamon roll” heroes. I have nothing against them. I just like my romance difficult and dramatic, but I find “soft” romance has its place in my otherwise preferred emotionally heavy romance library.

 I won’t get into much about the details of the story. I think the blurb does a good enough job of that. But I will talk about what I enjoyed. I know a lot of readers don’t find the value in indecisive or emotionally unavailable heroines—or those that can’t seem to find steady ground to stand on when it comes to emotions. I would have said something of the same years ago—but as someone not fully comfortable with emotional displays of affection, or sometimes even the private ones, I can understand it. I’m still learning that, so there’s absolutely room for fictional characters to do the same.

Love is tricky. It’s not as cut and dry as most of us try to make it. I think the best kind is the kind of love you have to work for. That's where Dani was. Hurt from some past relationship and internally wanting to fix it, but instead of doing so, dealt with it by avoiding it. There’s nothing wrong with that. When things don’t look like we expect, some of us avoid it. Fictional or otherwise.

I appreciated the author’s handling of Dani’s character. She was at times insufferable but writing her that way kept her rooted in reality, at least for me. I think if things continued to go so “perfectly” there would be no room for the character arc, which we know is essential in storytelling. But I very much appreciated that the couple didn’t spend a lot of time making us fall head over heels over the idea of them only to fall out repeatedly over stupid things. Considering Dani’s character, their “fallout” was perfectly suitable. It didn’t need to be totally reasonable.

Zaf, on the other hand, was almost perfect, but not too perfect. He had his flaws, but like Danika, he grew throughout the story. I loved the peeks of his culture, which I thought was handled delicately.

I rather enjoyed this couple. I thought the way they stumbled around the crush that honestly started their story was heartwarming. I laughed out loud a bit—which if anyone knows me knows is a monumental feat. Are there flaws? Sure, but I think that speaks to the characters' intended flaws and not at all a reflection of the writer herself.

The book's charm thoroughly entranced me. It was a treat for my eyes. It's worth the hype.


Tuesday, March 10, 2020

One Last Chance by Therese "Make You Laugh and Swoon" Beharrie

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One Last Chance by Therese Beharrie
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Of all the charity events in all of Cape Town, Zoey Roux had to bump into her husband at this one

Six years ago, Zoey Roux secretly married her best friend Sawyer. But all that did was destroy the best relationship she’s ever had. They went their separate ways, but Zoey never could go through with a divorce. Seeing him again at her sister’s charity event is a shock, but also enlightening: no matter how much she still loves him, it’s time to let him go.

Zoey was Sawyer Wilson’s first love. She broke his heart, but his feelings never died. Love was never their issue—only timing. Seeing her again is a shock: in a perfect world, she would run back into his arms. Instead, she’s asking for a divorce.

But a lot can happen in twenty-four hours: old wounds can heal, first loves can be reunited. And a second chance might just lead to happily ever after.
Suffused with charm and wit, One Last Chance hits all the right marks with pin-point accuracy. 
Six years ago, Zoey married her best friend. They spent a blissful three months together and went their separate ways. Now, Sawyer is at her sister's charity event shaking her to her core. He was her first everything, and now he might be her first ex-husband. 
Therese has a way of writing novels that are wholly mature, but youthful without all the infantile moments of miscommunication and immaturity that sometimes pops up in the romance genre. I'm looking at you New Adult. (Some of it. Don't argue with me, argue with your Mama) She does all of this while making us laugh, swoon and cry. It's a gift I wish she'd share with the rest of us. 
When I started reading this book, I had a hard time pulling myself away. I read the book when I shouldn't and could not pull away when I should have. It's laugh-out-loud funny, mature and sexy. People are always calling halfway lackluster couples goals because their insta profile looks great, Zoey and Sawyer are goals because they adulted their way through their broken relationship and they did so while entertaining us. 
If I hadn't had to pull away from this novel more than halfway through (life obligations), I would have been able to pull at the emotions I felt while reading this and put them in this review.
The pacing was just right, though it is very much a slow-burn, so if that's not your thing, you suck, slow burn is the bomb. Seriously, if you don't like the wait, be warned. This couple is working through some major things, and any good writer will allow that to take time. 
It was deliciously slow and every moment that I had to wait to get the satisfying ending I craved was worth it. The family dynamic was on point, the romance was most definitely on point. Therese can do no wrong in my book and her books are the type of books you want to return to again and again. 

Friday, February 21, 2020

Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds


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Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds
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From National Book Award finalist and New York Timesbestselling author Jason Reynolds comes a novel told in ten blocks, showing all the different directions a walk home can take.

This story was going to begin like all the best stories. With a school bus falling from the sky. But no one saw it happen. They were all too busy—

Talking about boogers.
Stealing pocket change.
Skateboarding.
Wiping out.
Braving up.
Executing complicated handshakes.
Planning an escape.
Making jokes.
Lotioning up.
Finding comfort.
But mostly, too busy walking home.

Jason Reynolds conjures ten tales (one per block) about what happens after the dismissal bell rings, and brilliantly weaves them into one wickedly funny, piercingly poignant look at the detours we face on the walk home, and in life.
 
I often hear it said that writers are bred, and sure you can breed some decent writers with whatever amount of work it requires, but I think the most gifted writers are born.

Jason Reynolds is the latter. He’s naturally good at writing tales that leave out all the pomp and stance, but are so well written you don't miss it.

His writing is connecting and pulling, so enthralling, every book feels like an experience you walk away from changed.

Look Both Ways is a masterful work of intertwining short stories told from the multiple perspectives of different students all from within the same zone, but at different points. Every story is unique but tightly knit like three-strand braids.

The characters transcend the pages. I felt as though I knew them. Reynolds is a master at telling the stories of Black youth, and he does so with relatable finesse.

Reynolds doesn't shy away from telling these stories in a truly and authentically way. He provides Black youth with stories they can grow up with. They are the stories that get passed on from one generation to the next.

Look Both Ways was no exception from his usual repertoire. The novel will grip you and hold you until the last page. Look Both Ways is stunning, clever, raw, and humorous. It began and ended every chapter on a high note, leaving little room for breathing. Reynolds is a true talent.

Cover Revel and Excerpt for The Bad in Each Other by Tasha L. Harrison


Blurb
Sous Chef, Birdie Malone is willing to do anything to disprove the rumor "she doesn't play well with others." 
Even if it means taking a job as a line cook at a local meat and three while building a following on her YouTube channel and trying to be the superhero her five-year-old daughter Amara believes her to be. Competing in her hometown’s yearly foodie competition would definitely help. If she wins, she will finally get the position and recognition she's been desperate to receive. Even if Saxon Turner, world renowned chef and ruiner of her life is one of the judges. No one ever needs to speak about what happened between them. She can keep her secrets. 
Chef Saxon Turner is in danger of having his foodie travel show canceled after he gets caught in a dark room with the Governor's daughter. Luckily, a long time friend steps in and offers him an opportunity to judge a foodie competition and a chance to lay low until it all blows over. Maybe this time he will be able to shed the bad boy image he's carried with him through most of his life. 
Or at least he thought it would be until he saw that one of the contestants is Birdie Malone.
It's been six years since he’s seen Birdie and he’s more than surprised to find the petite, brown-skinned, talented chef competing in a small town food competition when she should be commanding a kitchen of her own. When they met, the passion between them was hotter than a pit barbecue fire and the way he left things between them when she got kicked out of culinary school is chief among his regrets. Now that she’s back in his life, he can only hope that she will trust and respect him again. 
Birdie  just wants to win the money to start her own catering business and ignore the fact that Saxon has unexpectedly become an unwanted distraction. But the passion, intensity, and creativity he inspires in her can’t be denied. Will she be able to keep him out of her bed and her head in the game? 


Excerpt:
There are lots of things I imagined myself saying when I finally came face to face with Saxon Turner again. 

You broke my heart in ways that I never knew it could break, and I’ll never forgive you for that.
The time I spent with you has ruined me for all men. 
How are you alive? I gave my mama your hair to put a root on you. You should be dead.
How could you never look for me? 
Did you ever love me?
If you did, how could you just walk away?
I’m forever changed by our time together. How are you the same?

I wanted to say some or all of those things, but all that came out was sputtering words full of anger tinged disbelief. Anger that grew to a white-hot ember. Immense. Consuming. God, I haven’t been this angry since…
Since the day he left me.
I couldn’t think about this now. Not now. 
Chef Ransom moved from table to table, examining everyone’s knife cuts while I tried to get myself together. I may have found the intestinal fortitude to stomach being in the same room with Saxon, but after he brushed by me on the way back to the judge’s table…
Yea, I was going to need to tap into strength I wasn’t even sure I ever had to make my way through this.
The smell of himlike woodsmoke and baked apples. Less of a smell and more like two things that made me feel at home. And what the fuck did it say about me that I felt at home with a man who literally doesn’t have a home? That made his money traveling the world in some hedonistic version of Eat, Pray, Love. A man with no roots was a man who could be trusted. Especially not with my daughter.
Our daughter. 
Chef Ranson stepped up to my prep station with his mouth set in a grim line. “Chef Malone,” he murmured.
“Chef,” I answered by way of greeting.
“These cuts are excellent, but that’s to be expected of a working line cook. I suspect you get a log of practice at this.”
It wasn’t exactly a dig, but I felt the bite in his comment anyway. I didn’t know what he knew about me, but that comment made me feel like what he did know wasn’t anything good. At the very least, he heard about my reputation for being a loud voice of descent in the kitchen, and that was enough.
“Good work,” Chef Ransom said, but his tone was almost a bit begrudging. Like he didn’t want to give me even that tiniest bit of praise.
“Thank you, Chef.”
“And I’m going to assume whatever… issue you had that made you run from this room is now under control?” He looked at me, piercing dark eyes meeting mine in order to convey some unspoken intent. 
“Yes, chef.” I dropped my gaze to the colorful little piles of veg on my station. “It was just nerves. I’ll be fine.”
“Good,” he said, then rapped on the stainless steel table before moving on the next station. 
I stared at the veg, fixated on the uniformity of the slices. This wasn’t culinary arts school or the kitchen, but keeping my skills sharp was important. 
“Students! Please help out competitors store their mise en place so that we can prepare for the next challenge! Contestants, you can take a fifteen-minute break, but you must remain in the building or in the designated smoking area.”
I stepped back from my station and looked around the room. My gaze locked on Saxon’s almost instantly. He tipped his head toward the door and raised his eyebrows, an obvious request to step outside and talk.
I shook my head and mouthed the words fuck you again because really, fuck him. No, I wouldn’t go out in the hall with him to talk. The time for talking passed six years ago when I found myself in the  Charleston Airport, a duffle bag at my feet, waiting, or a man who had already boarded a plane to the other side of the world six hours earlier. If I’d received a phone call twenty-four hours, hell, seventy-two hours later, to explain why he left me outside of the terminal with nothing but a broken promise. 
In my peripheral vision, I saw Saxon stand up. Weak ass fool that I am, I looked up at him again because I couldn’t help looking at him. My eyes loved the sight of him even though I hated him with every fiber of my being. He didn’t say a word, but his bright blue eyes pleaded with me. 
God… it was still hard to tell those blue eyes no.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Honor and Desire (Gold Sky Series, Book #3) by Rebel Carter

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Honor and Desire (Gold Sky Series Book, #3) by Rebel Carter 
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For as long as anyone can remember Seylah Wickes-Barnes has been at the side of August Leclaire, her best friend and the boy her fathers took under their wing.

Now a grown woman and looking for love, Seylah's deepest regret, and secret, is quickly coming to surface: She has been in love with August for as long as she can remember. 

For years she has been content in her role as secretary to the Sheriff's department in Gold Sky, Montana. Mostly for the opportunity to be around the men of her family, and the one who still owns her heart. But there is no denying that the woman behind the desk is far more suited to wielding a gun and keeping the peace. If only she could convince her fathers to see her in a new light, as a person worthy of a deputy's badge. 

Determined to put her past behind her, Seylah gives her attentions to a handsome new arrival. One who sweeps Seylah off her feet-quite literally. Things are almost perfect until August suddenly declares his intent to court her. Can she trust that August's affections are true and not inspired by jealousy? 

Amongst gun fights and forbidden kisses, childhood friendships mature into a love built on forever and intimate desire in this tale of friends-to-prickly-allies-to-lovers romance

Honor and Desire was well-written and fairly true to the voice of its respective period, but there was something unexciting about the story.

Seylah is a gun touting and sharp-shooting woman whose only wish is to protect the town and the people she loves. Being a woman in this position, though fully embraced by her family, is still unheard of. August, her best friend, is quietly the love of her life. Except despite their closeness, they seem doomed to remain just friends.

The strongest part of the novel aside from the easy-to-follow writing--was the family. The characters in the family, particularly her sisters, leaped off the page in their realness. 

I have to admit the cover, and not the story initially pulled me towards the novel. The author didn't rely on character descriptions. With only the mention of the curl of Seylah's hair; and the mention of a dress complimenting her complexion; there isn't concrete proof the MC was a Black woman at all. Much to my disappointment. I don't know what I expected, but I thought her being black would have turned the story in an altogether different direction.

Regarding the romance, I almost didn't expect it to happen. I wouldn't call the romance slow-burn, because there wasn't much or any build-up. August seemed so disinterested in Seylah. When she finds out just how uninterested he is, it almost sours their friendship. Once she sets her eyes on someone new, he declares his undying love for her, and they begin their courtship. There's a small period of doubt, but it lasts only but a minute.

There were plenty of sweet moments, but I didn't expect the relationship, even though it's spelled out in the blurb. I have to admit; I didn't read it, so there's that. Their relationship was grounded in inevitability rather than romance. There's no conflict between the two, even after they paired off, and I think the story needed conflict to shake things up a bit.

Carter does a good job of penning this historical romance; at times I felt pulled from the story because of the occasional contemporary language. Again, I could be off the mark due to my lack of ignorance, but there were moments it felt more contemporary than historical.

Overall Honor and Desire is a perfectly readable and engaging tale. It's rather well-written, though I found the story lacking in action and thrill. I'd be perfectly content to read more books from this author; particularly the forthcoming novels that focus on the sisters who I felt were the true stars of the novel. 


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Hearts on Hold by Charish Reid: Where Can I Get Me One of Them Librarians?


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Hearts on Hold by Charish Reid
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What happens in the stacks stays in the stacks… 

Professor Victoria Reese knows an uphill battle when she sees one. Convincing her narrow-minded colleagues at the elite Pembroke University to back a partnership with the local library is a fight she saw coming and already has a plan for. What she didn’t see coming? The wildly hot librarian who makes it clear books aren’t the only thing he’d like to handle.

When a tightly wound, sexy-as-hell professor proposes a partnership between his library and her university, children’s department head John Donovan is all for it. He knows his tattoos and easygoing attitude aren’t quite what she expected, but the unmistakable heat between them is difficult to resist.

And then there’s the intriguing late fee on her record. For the Duke’s Convenience… A late fee and a sexy romance novel? There’s more to Dr. Reese than she’s letting on.

John might like to tease her about her late fee, but when he teases her in other ways, Victoria is helpless to resist. Mixing business with pleasure—and oh, it is pleasure—always comes with risks, but maybe a little casual fun between the sheets is just what Victoria needs.
*A special thanks to the author for this review copy. This freely supplied copy does not affect my opinion.*Also, please ignore any typos, I don't have the patience to grammar check myself on this here day.*

This book was so effortlessly good. I want to' sign up for a class for the key to the spell of this writing sorcery. 

Victoria is tightly wound, but her knack for planning even the smallest of details has served her well. She wants to implement an internship with the local library, but the patriarchal white powers that be are giving her a hard time. Fortunately, her lists are orderly, and her plans are even neater. Meeting with the Children's librarian, John Donovan is just a part of implementing the beginning stages of her plans for approval of the program. She doesn't prepare to fall into a "situationship" with the librarian or to find love in the stacks.

This is my second book by Charish, and they both maintained a solid, well-written exploration of interracial romances in a way I've not seen done this excellently before. 

Wholly maintaining the blackness of her heroine, while having her date outside of her race, is difficult. I often see authors fumble in this subgenre, there's always (most times) a forced, unrealistic racist chasm put between the characters that hinder the book.

Reid is an expert in not doing this. She never ostracizes her heroines and maintains the relationships (see: Black girlfriends) that are lacking in most IR novels. She expertly weaves aspects of the characters' careers into the books without weighing the book down with strenuous details.

Not only that, the books are hot without even trying (boffum). She maintains the heat of the sex; without being vulgar or chaste. This is difficult to do. Her books are clever and captivating. I didn't want to put the book down and I didn't. 

The writing is superb and effortless in its delivery. The conflicts are mature and fitting to the character's journeys. I honestly can't say anything bad about this book.

Reid is now an auto-buy author, and I am thrilled to see what she comes up with next.