This was an incredibly successful round of ARCs for me, to the extent that I now have physically a copy of 40-Love from Love’s Sweet Arrow, a copy of Party of Two is on preorder from Loyalty Books, and once my next credit is available, I’ll be getting The Last Train to Key West that way. So now to give credit where credit is due: Olivia Dade is an angel and appreciates my relentless enthusiasm for everything that she does and sent me an ARC of 40-Love directly; Berkley (maybe accidentally) made both of their titles available for automatic download on Edelweiss and I took full advantage. Thanks to them for that!
Now for today’s Black Lives Matter project, Amistad Books (a publishing imprint for Black books) has proposed that this week we purchase two books by Black authors to make the New York Times Bestsellers List be a Black Out. I purchased Hood Feminism from Barnes & Noble to go with my audiobook copy, The Fifth Season, Thick, and my preorder of Party of Two from Loyalty Bookstore, and So You Want to Talk About Race from Libro.fm. I also can’t stop one-clicking over on Amazon so basically, everyone is getting money from me right now. (On Amazon, I one-clicked Swing Batter Swing by Zaida Folanco on Adriana Herrera’s recommendation and Something Like Love by Christina C. Jones on recommendations from Katrina Jackson and Mina Reads.) I hope y’all are able to participate, but if you cannot afford books right now (which totally understandable), see if your library provides you with the option to request books and make a couple of requests for books you’ve been wanting!
The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton
The Last Train to Key West is set during Labor Day, 1935 when the worst (one of the worst?) hurricanes hit the Keys unexpectedly and killed a whole bunch of people. It follows three women whose stories intersect and also the writing is beautiful. One of the women is Helen, a pregnant woman whose husband is abusive. She’s waitressing in a local diner where she happens to meet the two other women with perspectives in this book. One of those women is Mirta Perez (who is not the last Perez sister, but I cannot figure out who she is. One of their aunts? I have to go back and reread When in Cuba, I think) who is on her honeymoon with her new husband, one of the crime lords in New York. And finally, we have Elizabeth Preston (who I thought must be Nick’s mom, but that seems wrong. His aunt?), who is a disgraced socialite traveling to Key West in search of someone. I don’t want to say more than this because part of the fun of this book was uncovering more about each character’s backstory.
What I do want to say is that as usual, I felt swept away by Cleeton’s prose and although I wasn’t as emotional as I was in Next Year in Havana, I really loved these storylines and how they weaved together. And I really loved where each of these women ended up. I’m so excited for whatever Cleeton does next.
40-Love by Olivia Dade
This beautiful book follows Tess Dunn, a white Assistant Principal, on her vacation in the Caribbean and begins with Tess realizing her bathing suit top has come off. She definitely cannot have a scandal and there are children coming toward her, so she takes cover behind Lucas Karlsson and convinces this too young and flirtatious man to help her out of this sticky situation. Lucas is a white former tennis professional who is now giving lessons at this resort and he’s kind of still depressed about the way his career ended and he’s a little aimless. The two of them have some combustible chemistry, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can have a relationship they’re both starting to want.
I was 100% in love with this book and Olivia Dade is a goddess who just really has fat rep figured out. She’s incredible at making you as the reader feel safe and cared for even while her characters are exorcising their pasts and learning how to come together. I really can’t commend her writing enough and I just want to read everything she writes for the rest of forever. I’m so grateful she gave me an advanced copy of this book because when I tell you I needed it, I mean it. And now I own a physical copy so I can force other people to read it too!
Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory
This book will make you want cake. And also pie. And maybe burritos. And also Chinese food. Basically, just be prepared to be hungry while reading it. Following Alexa from The Wedding Date‘s sister, Olivia Monroe, Party of Two follows Olivia as she’s set up shop as a lawyer in LA and also her finding her place in LA and Senator Max Powell, a good looking white man, Olivia meets in a hotel bar. I know some people have expressed concern about other books coming out and the politics contained therein, but this is very clearly a book about two Democrats. I loved the way Max courts Olivia with dessert because, yes, please, and I really appreciated the way Guillory would weave in discussions about how Black women face sexism and racism and how those things were both impacting Olivia as she settled into owning her own firm (with her friend Ellie). I also liked the friendships in this book, from old friends (Ellie), to sisters (Alexa), and new friends (Jamila), this book covered all of the bases. So, yes, I bought myself a copy of this book too.
And there you have three more ARC reviews! Next week, fingers crossed, you’ll have a LGBTQIA+ Historical Romance set of ARC reviews (as I’ve not read finished reading them all, I’m afraid I don’t know where we’re at with the letters. I think L and G for sure). In the meantime, have you read any of these three? Are you excited about them? Let me know!