When their foster-turned-adoptive mother suddenly dies, four brothers struggle to keep open the doors of her beloved Harlem knitting shop, while dealing with life and love in Harlem.
Jesse Strong is known for two things: his devotion to his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, and his reputation for breaking hearts in Harlem. When Mama Joy unexpectedly passes away, he and his brothers have different plans on what to do with Strong Knits, their neighborhood knitting store: Jesse wants to keep the store open; his brothers want to shut it down.
Jesse makes an impassioned plea to Kerry Fuller, his childhood friend who has had a crush on him her entire life, to help him figure out how to run the business. Kerry agrees to help him reinvent the store and show him the knitty-gritty of the business, but the more time they spend together, the more the chemistry builds. Kerry, knowing Jesse’s history, doesn’t believe this relationship will exist longer than one can knit one, purl one. But Jesse is determined to prove to her that he can be the man for her—after all, real men knit.
*As usual where it applies, a special thank you to the publisher for this provided review copy.* The romance seemed to be a moving target in Real Men Knit. Though the hero and heroine had backstory having grown up together, which you would assume built on their already set chemistry (there wasn't any.) The romance between the pair never seemed to fit. The book opens up on a sad note with the matriarch of the Knit shop having died and having left her shop to her four adoptive and multiracial sons. Please do not be fooled by the cover, like I was, this is not Black romance and probably should NOT be categorized as such, but I digress. The author does not spend a lot of time on aesthetics, but she notes that the sons are of different races/nationalities. Also at the top of the novel, is Kerry, who worked (works) part-time at the shop, and also stays on to help the sons, particularly, Jesse Strong, re-open the shop. With idle threats of bills looming, they quickly get to it. But it’s what they never get to that ruins the story. There was no romance. There were furtive glances, but there was no chemistry between two characters who allegedly had crushes on each other since childhood. How could there be such unenthusiastic pining between two people who grew up secretly liking each other? Kerry does a bit of internalized dialogue pining, but it stays within the recesses of her mind until about the 75-80 percent mark of the book, where she goes from being the coy, sass-less Kerry girl to this sex kitten who sets up to be the hero’s sex partner for the few remaining weeks she’s stuck in his apartment. The apartment above the knit shop because of forced proximity, which is typically my jam, but winds up being a bit of a let-down; mostly because it was the type of 360-degree change that needed a leadup. I found myself wondering if I somehow slipped into the pages of another book mid-story. The sex scenes which were mostly closed door, which is fine, but it did nothing to spark the already spark-less romance that even up until the last page, did little to convince me they liked each other the way the author wanted me, as the reader, to believe. The book lacked the emotion needed to carry the reader throughout. I was for lack of a better word, bored. Real Men Knit didn't explore what could have been its strengths hard enough, and it missed its mark because of it. It was one of the more disappointing reads of 2020.