So I picked Amarie Avant’s The Good Mistress simply because it was available in my Kindle Library. My library is full of books that Bookbub happened to be offering for free at some point, and The Good Mistress was one of them. So when my first pick to knock off my list didn’t pan out, I was happy to see that this one did.
I did not expect this book to be good though.
In The Good Mistress, self-made billionaire, Blake Baldwin just wants to bang the fiancee’ of his deceased employee. However, Mila Ali has no interest in a married man who may or may not have been the cause of her fiance’s death. This doesn’t stop Blake from trying. So when Blake succeeds and things start to go left for Mila, she feels it’s just par for the course.
When I got this novel from Bookbub, I remember wondering why the black girl had to be the mistress. It’s a real life stereotype for powerful white men to have white wives and black side pieces, so I wasn’t too fond of the premise and left it to linger in my Kindle library for only God knows how many months.
So the joke is, this novel was meant to be a standalone – it’s even in the title – but the fans loved it so much that the author decided to write a sequel. Which, in my opinion, is what happens when you don’t write the wedding portion of a Happily Ever After. Nobody likes their HEAs open-ended because it invites the idea that the protagonists don’t get one.
So, of course, I had to read the sequel.
The Wedding is set three years after the first, and Blake can’t get Mila to say yes to any of his numerous proposals. Twice bitten, and three times shy, Mila finally relents, but she can’t bear to have a long engagement, so Blake makes it happen as quickly as he can. Of course, very little goes according to plan.
Considering that these novels were written in 2016 and 2018 respectively, I can talk all the spoilers I want. However, I’m not going to. It’s a wild read, and I doubt that my observations will give everything away.
Blake Baldwin, in the beginning, is not the type of romantic partner you would want for your heroine. He’s a cheater, and regularly receives sexual favors from his secretary. He’s married, but you learn very quickly that he’s not at all in love with his wife. He’s also a bit shady, in that there is a point when one wonders if Blake might be out there commiting crimes.
By the time we get to the sequel, Blake is ready to be the best husband, but he’s not above doing something underhanded to get what he wants. Of the two protagonists, I like Blake the best, but that’s entirely the author’s fault.
Mila Ali could have stood to have a better name, but that’ more my aversion to short names than anything. She’s a Somalian woman who has had bad luck in love, but is determined to move forward regardless of the difficulties in front of her. Her independence is admirable, and her story is mostly cohesive in the first book. By the sequel, all of Mila’s chickens are coming home to roost, and not in a good way.
In my honest opinion, both novels are good, but there are points where the writing fails you, and it’s most notable in The Wedding. In The Good Mistress, the reader is supposed to think that Blake is capable of murder, but one of the scenes is written in a way that makes you think a murder was actually committed. The later scenes that reference the situation do not make it seem like Blake’s involvement in said murder was ambiguous. Blake seems very guilty, and it seems like the author had originally intended for him to be so, but then changed her mind.
Book two should come with some trigger warnings as there are two instances of sexual assault. Mila suffers two mental breaks in The Wedding, and, while the first made plenty of sense, the author could only vaguely explain the second. I actually had to put the book down for a few days because of the second one. I also didn’t like some of the comments Mila made in book two in regards to her race/ethnicity. I don’t know if the author was trying to make a point, but it didn’t sit right with me.
Lastly, Mila and her sister, Lido, were estranged from their parents for a few years, and Mila finds out that it’s all Lido’s fault when she reconciles with her father. The “how” of this is never answered.
All of that being said, I liked both The Good Mistress and The Wedding, although I would only recommend The Good Mistress for a read. It works as a standalone, but I can’t promise that you would want to read the sequel when it’s over. Still, it was a worthy read, in my opinion, because it ended up not being what I expected.
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