Thursday, September 19, 2019

A Selfish Kind of Love (Four Letter Word, Book #3) by Bella Jay: Urban Romane Done Right

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A Selfish Kind of Love (Four Letter Word #3) by Bella Jay
The Butterfly Reader: City of Ashes - Review

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When Tessah Jones turned 18, she learned to put her charming ways to use and get whatever she wanted from men. At 21, she was living her best life on someone else’s dime, with someone else’s husband, and had no qualms about it! But when her sponsor wants more than she’s willing to give, she wants out and it lands her in the arms of the last person she’d ever expect or want it to — Kyree.

Kyree Warwick has a high tolerance for a lot of things but women like Tessah weren’t one of them. Their dislike for one another was no secret but when an unfortunate turn of events has him seeing her in a new light —he does the complete opposite of what his gut says and follows his heart down a path neither him nor Tessah thought possible.

As Tessah finds herself caught up in the rapture that is Kyree, she has to come to terms with who she is as the love she was never looking for is put to the test because of her selfish ways. Follow Tessah on her journey as she finds the true meaning of love.
Tessah is a "man-eater." She gets what she wants from men, by any means necessary—and she has no plans to change. Her best friend, Landon is a street pharmacist for the judgemental Kyree Warwick. He's always judging her with those accessing eyes, and his hate, it's reciprocal. They can't stand each other. But when her life's threatened, Kyree steps in to save the day. And because of it, they see each other differently. 

Urban Romance is not among my favorite of genres, mostly because I'm at the point in my life where street life no longer seems exciting. It was always scary but when I was younger; it was less frightful and more thrilling. But, I digress.

Jay does a thing with this Urban Romance where it's less street and more love. While the heroes are drug dealers, that part of their lives was left off the page. She hints at their illegal doings stronger in the beginning, but she walks away from it to focus on romance and character development. And she did well with both.

As most of you know, I am an enemy-to-lovers trope stan. Kyree and Tessah are enemies-to-lovers through and through. Though the change from hate to love is swift—and I will admit I was worried about that, it turned around and slowed down when and where it really mattered.

The author brought about the change from love to hate quickly, but the story doesn't suffer from its quickness. Their love was real, but it maintained this light playfulness that I really appreciated. They worked through conflicts like adults, and it still had a bit of emotion and angst that I enjoy. It's light for those of you who don't like angst or prefer low-angst. 

I enjoyed seeing the characters grow. Character growth is essential when you're dealing with characters that are not normally used to being in a relationship and in love. The dual POV helped with seeing the characters growth process, which for me upped the story's quality.

The secondary characters were not unlike relatives you may or may not know. That's the thing with Black Romance you get the black experience and you feel you know the person or some version of them. That's one thing I'll always enjoy and appreciate black authors for. Again, I digress.

The book is funny, hood romantic, and pretty well put together. It was paced well and all the important parts were spread out and not rushed. Thank goodness for it.

I'm pleased with this read and I really enjoyed the ending. I was worried after reading book two, but this one more than makes up for it. I would recommend it. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Reminiscing by Tierra Cox

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Reminiscing by Tierra Cox
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KyuBeom Yoon is known as the ice prince of the renowned K-pop group, C4. All he wanted was to get away from it all—the lights, the cameras, and the fame that comes with being an idol. And all he wants is Maya Campoy. With Maya, he gets the chance to feel normal, to be loved, to be happyand so much more. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned. Years later, he finds himself on a radio show reliving a tale of love and heartbreak, wondering if, at the end of it all, she’ll give him another chance.

KyuBeom (Q) is a member of the K-pop group, C-4. Better known as the “iceman” of the group. He’s in the US on vacation, taking a breather from the celebrity life. Daily trips to the diner have led to him gaining a crush on Maya, the American Black girl he can’t keep his eyes off of.

What works for the story is that KyuBeom is very likable. He’s charismatic and easy to like. His voice is soft but effective, as he really comes off the page. Maya, however, doesn’t shine as brightly. The story is told from Kyu’s perspective, and the parts that are told in Maya’s POV don’t come across strongly. It felt like someone else was telling her story, putting a gap between her character and the reader.

The love aspect of the story loses some of its effectiveness as a result, of the POV struggle. The love story is told and felt through a series of recollections in the form of several radio interviews, that take place over a series of days. For me, at least, it didn’t allow me to have an emotional connection to a story. 

The racial and cultural differences, along with the split time between Korea and the US would have been more potent if experienced first hand. I would have loved to see (read) the scenery while the story took place in Korea. It initially attracted me to the story because I am a fan of Korean culture; ie: Kdrama and K-pop. It would have been nice to experience some culture firsthand.

As a reader, you don’t get to experience much of that. The story is based on the relationship complications between Kyu and Maya. So the story leaves off the extra stuff; like scenery, backstory, and outside influence. 

The only influence the secondary characters and the outside world played was having a negative effect on K&M’s budding relationship.  That is aside from the uncle and father of Maya, who rooted for the pair to make it. 

The story is not bad but would have been that much better if told in a more first-person perspective from both the hero and the heroine.

The ending is HEA but left something to be desired. Because we spent so little time with Maya, I would have loved an Epilogue, just to see where they are, especially if there will be no further books from the pair.

I’m fairly pleased with this book and would read more novels if only to see if the author would expound more and dig a little deeper. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Beach Thing by Dl White: Hold on to Summer and Take a Trip To Black Diamond Isles.

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Beach Thing DL White
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When Ameenah Porter moves to the beach town of Black Diamond Isles to fulfill her dream of opening a smoothie shop, she encounters a man who is tall, dark and extremely handsome with a wicked taste for orange flavored beverages. She doesn’t need the distraction of a new man but Wade, who’s staying in the giant sized home at the end of her block, is irresistible. 

Wade Marshall was supposed to spend the summer on Black Diamond Isles getting away from the rush of Brooklyn, ridding himself of the distractions that had been impacting his work so he can do what he does best-- make beats. But the day he meets Ameenah, he becomes consumed by an entirely different and more attractive distraction--his bold, beautiful, sexy neighbor with the “glorious hips” and a penchant for ice cream. 

Ameenah's days at Tikis & Cream, her beachside smoothie shop, are spent cooling off her customers with her gourmet smoothie blends. Her nights on the shores of Black Diamond Bay are enchanting and romantic, and soon Wade and Ameenah find themselves in the middle of a Beach Thing, a fun, meaningless tryst that will end when the summer is over. 

Or will it? 

Wade is returning to Brooklyn at the end of the summer. Ameenah lives on Black Diamond. Neither want this Beach Thing to end... so is this fling really a fling or is it the beginning of something real... and will they realize it in time? 

If you're not yet ready to say goodbye to summer, join me for a trip to Black Diamond.
I know Summer is almost over, but for those of you still basking in the last week or so we have left; Beach Thing is here to help you hold onto the last vestiges of summer. 
Beach Thing follows Ameenah and Wade and their summer tryst. Ameenah just opened up her smoothie shop in Black Diamond Isles; her home away from home--much to her parents' chagrin. Wade is on a workcation. He's there to work and also to enjoy the summer. That does not include falling into the arms or the bed of the woman whose orange-flavored drinks keep him coming back for more.

What's enjoyable about Beach Thing is the overall progression of the romance and the maturity of the characters. While they face obstacles to their "Beach Thing," they handle it very maturely. They're not looking for love, but they don't spend too much time agonizing over the why's and focused on the ifs

The relationship develops quickly, but it stays away from being instant love. They might have found "like" with each other fairly quickly, but declarations of love; and being wholly committed to each other happens much later. I also liked that they didn't spend all of their time being wrapped up in the other. They spent a lot of time together, but they also spent a lot of time being adults and taking care of their respective businesses.

It's a rather enjoyable, mature romance. Perfect for readers who don't like a lot of angst or drama.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Never Too Soon by Tamika Christy


Never Too Soon Tamika Christy
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Things are looking up for Anaya Goode after the deaths of her brother and mother. She is the youngest (and highest paid) executive in Alameda County. She is in an adoring relationship with the love of her life, her natural twists are on point, and she runs a six-minute mile. What else matters?

When Anaya is tasked with leading negotiations for the most significant development agreement in County history, her world unravels. If the antics of inept officials and her micromanaging boss aren't enough to drive Anaya mad, she discovers that her ex-boyfriend Jeff is commissioned as a consultant on the development agreement. Anaya hasn't had contact with Jeff since their messy break-up six years ago.

As negotiations for the development agreement intensify, an internal scandal threatens Anaya's reputation—and her job. Amid bureaucratic indecision and public outrage, Anaya leans on Jeff for support, and unresolved feelings resurface.

As Anaya questions her steady relationship, her extended family's perception of her as Goode matriarch puts her in the middle of every aunt's and cousin's problem. She is tired of serving as supplemental income to her scripture-quoting, ever-pregnant sister, and would love to burn the imaginary pedestal her family has perched her on. Can she see her work and family commitments through and still maintain her love life---and more importantly, her sense of self?

Ripe with witty dialogue and relatable characters, Never Too Soon offers a look into complicated relationships and haunting pasts, and shows the importance of the familial ties that bind.
(I neglected to post this on release day, sorry!) A special thanks to the author for the supplied review copy. This is no way has swayed my opinion. All thoughts are my own.

Women’s fiction for black girls.

Never Too Soon is a heavily character-driven novel that dives into the lives of its characters with fervor. It doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about romance but digs in to give the characters life

The story follows Anaya’s life but it gives time to each of her friend's stories, presenting realistic life situations that many readers will relate to. Each woman is walking a different path, but in a lot of ways, their situations are comparable. Their separate journeys will touch different readers in different ways.

I liked the way the character arcs played out across the book, however, towards the very end it felt like the story held on for just a bit too long. There’s no true resolution or aha moment by the end, though the ending is satisfactory and didn’t feel cliff-hanger-y. Though, it feels like there’s more to explore. 

I won’t get into each character, as there are a few of them but I enjoyed each of them to a degree, with partial feelings toward Carl and Sophie. Towards the end of the book, there was a funny in your face scene with Sophie. 

Carl is the dedicated, loving, but oblivious love interest to Anaya. He was everything Anaya should have wanted, but couldn’t appreciate. And if I’m being honest, I still don’t understand her feelings or slight distaste towards her relationship with Carl. I just wonder why can’t the strong, take care of every one type, be happy?

But, I digress. The book is entertaining, and what I’d expect from a woman’s fiction novel. It’s focused on its characters and their ultimate goals. I wasn’t as invested as I would have liked, but I was pleased with the book.

There are a character and a story for every reader, and it’s contemporary enough to feel very current. I won’t be going nuts to get the word out, but it would make a nice addition to the shelves of book lovers, who like authors like Terry  McMillan, etc.

It's not a series I would run for,  but it is one I would pay attention to. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The Write Escape by Charish Reid ARC Review

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The Write Escape Charish Reid
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Take one heartbroken Chicago girl

Literary editor Antonia Harper had it all—the career, the man, the future. That was then. Now Antonia is jobless, alone and at a crossroads. What better time to travel the world? A solo honeymoon on the Emerald Isle will be like hitting the reset button. No distractions, no drama.

Add some luck o the Irish

Aiden Byrnes may be a literature professor, but words fail him when he meets the woman staying in the cottage next door. Tully Cross is meant to be a sleepy little village, and he’s meant to be on a working holiday—not a vacation, and most definitely not with his beautiful neighbor.

And you get some mighty good craic

They say laughter is the best medicine—and as it turns out, superhot sex isn’t so bad either. Antonia and Aiden’s spark quickly grows into what could be something special, if they’re willing to take the leap. Ending up an ocean apart is unthinkable, and when real life comes calling, there’s no ignoring that leap anymore…
I need to read more mature romances. I hate to classify it as such but the truth is the truth, let it settle where it may. 

Antonia and Aiden are the type of couple that I aspire to be with my loved one, one day—making mistakes, figuring things out messily, but coming together at the end. 

Antonia is engaged to be married, and she’s kind of unhappy; she just doesn’t know it. She works for a publisher while daydreaming of being a writer. A broken engagement, a broken heart, and a pre-planned honeymoon find her in Ireland. It’s there she meets Aiden; another wandering soul, trying to figure things out.

I really enjoyed the romance in this story. It was slow going, but not so slow that you’re ready to call it quits before it happens. It wasn’t slow burn either; it came on naturally. It was very; I like you, you like me, maybe? But, let’s not just jump in the bed so quickly, okay?

Reid took the time to build up the story, and most importantly, their back story. You can sometimes forget in the rush for the coming together part, how important it is to get to know the characters. Reid was very good at the developing part. So, by the time I got to the sexy parts, I was fully invested and thoroughly rooting for the couple, passionately. 

I loved the beginning to end of each character separately and together. It was all so mature. Even the big climactic scene didn’t dwell forever; drowning us in a sea of over-dramatics. 

And Aiden, Aiden is the perfect white hero. I know, it’s not always about race, but when we’re talking about an interracial couple; race is bound to come into play. Though the races of the characters differed; he was white, and she was black.

The author took care to allow them to explore their differences, without allowing it to overwhelm them; and without harping on it until her readers were drunk on their racial disparities. Thanks for that, Charish.

Aiden was attentive, compassionate and woke. He was white woke. His eyes and ears were open, and that’s more than anyone could ever ask for.

It’s a lovely love story; one I’d like to revisit when it tickles my fancy. It had heart, sass, passion, and it didn’t lack in sexy.

It’s definitely one of the better romances I’ve read. I would match it up with Therese Beharrie if I were looking to compare. A stunning debut, for me, and not the last time I’ll be reading her stuff.