Today marks the third day of Black History Month 2021, so it seemed fitting to celebrate a few of the Black authors I’ve read recently. I like to focus on contemporary fiction, with a mix of thrillers and romantic comedies, and these three titles fit that bill!
Blacktop Wasteland by S. A. Crosby
Beauregard “Bug” Montage: husband, father, honest car mechanic. But he was once known – from North Carolina to the beaches of Florida – as the best getaway driver on the East Coast. Just like his father, who disappeared many years ago. After a series of financial calamities (worsened by the racial prejudices of the small town where he lives), Bug reluctantly takes part in a daring diamond heist to solve his money troubles – and to go straight once and for all. However, when it goes horrifically wrong, he’s sucked into a grimy underworld which threatens everything, and everyone, he holds dear. I don’t usually go for heist stories, but Blacktop Wasteland kept me engaged and turning the pages. Even though Bug made A LOT of bad decisions, I found myself rooting for him throughout the book, and hoping that he didn’t follow in his father’s footsteps. If you enjoy fast-paced thrillers, you’ll love this one!
Mr. Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo
Seventy-four years old, Antigua born and bred, flamboyant Hackney personality Barrington Walker is known for his dapper taste and fondness for retro suits. He is a husband, father and grandfather. And for the past sixty years, he has been in a relationship with his childhood friend and soulmate, Morris. Wife Carmel knows Barry has been cheating on her, but little does she know what is really going on. When their marriage goes into meltdown, and Carmel has to go back to Antigua to take care of some family business, Barrington has big choices to make. He’s tired of letting everyone he cares about down, but is he brave enough to divorce Carmel and publicly declare his love for Morris? Mr. Loverman was a fascinating character study, and Barry was so loveable and interesting that it was easy for me to look past his faults (of which there were many). I’ve read a few of Evaristo’s other novels, but this has been my favorite thus far.
Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson
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 Kerry falls for him. Jesse has a reputation as a womanizer, so Kerry knows getting involved with him would be on a short-term basis…or would it? While this is a romantic comedy, it’s also a tale of family, brothers coming together, and how to turn around a business. I enjoyed how multi-faceted Real Men Knit was, and I’m hoping it becomes a series featuring each of the Strong brothers.