My internet has been out since Tuesday due to some shenanigans in the neighborhood, so I found myself finishing five books in a row without properly reviewing them. Two of those books are part of a “Top 5 Wednesday” post that got postponed due to that same internet issue, so I’ll be holding those reviews for another day. However, these three books were a complete surprise.
As always, Friday Reads was created by L Jones Edition to help bring new authors and genres to more people. It is by far my favorite community blogging event, and my favorite way to show off the more high profile books.
Olivia Gaines’s Maple Sundaes & Cider Donuts
In the tenth entry to Olivia Gaines’ Modern Mail Order Brides series, Evan Eaton is looking for a bride so that he can keep his family’s land, but when he meets Leta Feldman, he gets so much more.
I think keeping it to one sentence is the best way to go with these summaries.
Despite my thoughts that this was a Bookbub freebie, I apparently found this one while surfing through KindleUnlimited, which is wild to me because a lot of the books I want to read are not on there.
That being said, Maple Sundaes & Cider Donuts is a cute, straightforward read once the male protagonist stops fixating on the fact that he somehow found himself married to a black woman. And he has valid reasons for this line of questioning the first two or three times, like the fact that she wasn’t who he matched with originally, nor were there any black women in his small town in New Hampshire. However, it got old very quickly, and I was too happy to move on.
Being that this book was written in 2020, I really should hold off on the spoilers, but some things are just going to slip out. Like how I love the fact that Leta basically hits the ground running once she gets to New Hampshire. Once she gets Evan on board, Leta basically runs the show. I like that Evan comes off as relatively anti-social, but is willing to expose the whole town if they bother his wife. I probably could have done with another book about this couple, but the story works fine the way it is.
Would I recommend this book to anyone? Not unless you like quick romantic reads with relatively commonplace plots that are only impacted by the racial makeup of the couple. To be quite honest, this book was cute, but it’s not an absolute stand out. I’m definitely going to read one or two more books in the series, but I don’t feel that this one was Olivia Gaines’ best work. Definitely a nice read though.
Kenya Wright’s Redemption
I’d be a liar if I didn’t say that Kenya Wright wasn’t the new fave, and I haven’t been disappointed by her yet – probably because I’ve stayed away from The Butcher and the Violinist. In Redemption, Ebony is constantly on the run from her abusive ex-husband when she finds herself stranded outside of Yoshiro’s house with her three children. Afraid of being burned again, Ebony takes a chance on accepting Yoshiro’s offer of help, and ends up finding a love that heals them both.
I love how this is supposed to be a slow burn, but the romance happens in a matter of days. Slow Burns and Holiday Romances generally should not go together, because I, a fanficker, expect weeks to go by and 10+ chapters of “I don’t know about this one”, and Holiday Romances should never last longer than the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I can’t say that that happened here. Yoshiro was feeling Ebony the moment she walked into his home, and Ebony only needed the chance to come out of survival mode. This is not a slow burn.
But it’s still a good read.
To be quite honest, I’ve been eyeing this novel ever since I started reading Kenya Wright’s books because she kept name dropping The Dragon in The Lion and the Mouse series. Yoshiro is most definitely not The Dragon, but he does like dragons, and he used to be a Mob Bae.
Kenya Wright is always working on a new book, so it doesn’t surprise me that this one is barely eight months old. So no spoilers here, but I’ll still talk about what I liked. I liked that Yoshiro wasn’t actively in the mob anymore, and that Ebony was a regular degular in a messed up situation. I’ve come to realize that you can’t be a regular girl with an active Mafia Bae. It’s unrealistic that homegirl from down the street would put up with that kind of danger on a relatively consistent basis.
I like that Yoshiro was a much sweeter, less pushy type of Love Interest. I love Kaz and Misha, but their brand of love would not have worked here. Yoshiro could be just as dangerous as Wright’s other male protagonists, but he has just the right amount of sensitivity that Ebony needed.
I liked Redemption. I don’t know if that means much, because I haven’t read a Kenya Wright book that I didn’t like. Still, I liked that Wright didn’t pull any punches. This one was as gritty as anything else that she’s written, but it didn’t take from the story overall.
Another great addition to an enviable collection of works.
P.R. Keys’ The Eve of Our September
In The Eve of Our September, Edythe Jamison has been saved from embarrassment by Henry Barton twice, and thinks she’s finally lucked up when she finds herself married to him. However, when Henry’s neglect becomes evident, Edythe is determined to live her own life. Except, now Henry can’t bear to lose her.
One day, I’ll get these summaries together.
I had originally intended to read the second book in this series, The Sweetest November, first, but somehow found myself buying both. That was probably one of my better decisions because I found The Eve of Our September to be a great read. It’s a historical romance about the black elite of Baltimore, Maryland/ Washington, DC.
(The funny part is that I’m technically still in the middle of listening to Elizabeth Dowling Taylor’s The Original Black Elite which is about rich black Washingtonites about 20 years before this book is set.)
I like reading about black debutantes, courting practices, and black people passing for white, and Keys offers all of this in The Eve of Our September. I was even okay with there being acts of racism – thankfully they weren’t too excessive – which is something I actively avoid.
I liked Edythe as a character. She wasn’t overly naive, and was pretty likable. Henry wasn’t the worst, but I like how he eventually came to his senses about his wife and how he wanted his marriage to go. I understood his need to be in control of his life, but I didn’t always appreciate his choices.
My only issue with this book was that Edythe had to lose weight. They kept making the point that she wasn’t fat, but she was “brown and round”. To be quite fair, Keys seemed to suggest that Edythe was really a nervous eater. And I’ll give Keys that they didn’t make it seem as if Edith was actively trying to lose weight, but I still didn’t think it was necessary in the end.
Other than that, this was a pretty good novel. I liked just about all of the characters, and some of their actions could even be considered reasonable. I liked that the villain got the resolution he needed, but not the redemption. It’s sad when you think about it, but he really wasn’t coming back from all of the stuff he’d done.
I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves a historical romance with debutantes and high society. I was enthralled from beginning to end, and I look forward to continuing the series.
So I’m going to end this one here as there’s a hurricane passing over, and I’m not looking forward to losing anything to the power cutting off. If all goes well, this should post tonight, and I’ll be back on track for July.
‘Til next week.
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