In the last week I ended up reading two BWAM! (Black woman/Asian man. thank Solace Ames for putting this abbreviation into my head) romances so I figured I’d review them in one post before my ADHD gets the best for me and erases both stories from my long term memory! :D
Maryam James is a hard taskmaster. A balls-to-the-walls type of woman who started her company with nothing more than a strong idea and a loan and turned it into one of the Top Fortune 500 companies in America. There’s only one person she trusts implicitly and that’s her personal assistant Xavier Sun, who, much to her dismay, has just turned in his resignation.
Maryam is the one woman Xavier can’t live without. She may be in command in the boardroom, but he’s in control in the bedroom, and if he learned anything from being by her side for the last seven years it was Maryam doesn’t know how to take ‘no’ for an answer. So it’s no surprise to him she basically forbids him to quit. Leaving is the last thing on Xavier mind, however. He’s willing to put his job on the line, if it will get Maryam to realize the depths of her feelings for him.
I’ve been looking for more BWAM! romance because I wanted a break from reading interracial romances with white dudes. White dudes are everywhere. Amirite? I wasn’t ready to completely move away from Lena Matthews after reading Happily Even After so I picked up The Good, The Bad, and The Naughty. Again the blurb messed with me a little. I was expecting one thing and I got another.
1) I didn’t find Maryam to be much of hard task master. She came across as a no-nonsense woman who had a business to run, but she was totally nice and funny and as a character didn’t really need any personal growth.
2) I was expecting some sort of bond to grow between Xavier and Mayram. What I got was two people who were actually EXTREMELY close. Not just as co-workers, but they seemed like pretty good friends. The leap to their sex relationship came as no shock. I wanted a bit of a shock. I wanted a bit of a shake up. Instead I was left thinking well, why weren’t they just fucking the whole time. As a boss and a friend, Mayram appreciates Xavier. It was just the sexy times he was felt were missing so he took it upon himself to remedy this situation. And love ensues.
The major con is that, that’s the whole story. Xavier wants their relationship to be more and that’s exactly what they get.
Here are the pros.
1) The sex is sooooooooo hot. So hot. Hot.
2) Xavier is in love. I love reading about men who are unapologetically in love. And it’s Xavier who needs to hear those three little words from Mayram.
3) Mayram doesn’t suffer from strong black woman disorder. She’s balanced in natural human ways that make her character very likable.
Final Assessment: Read it. It’s good for a case of the hornies, just know that the overall story might leave you wanting more. Grade: B-/C+
In 1865, the hope for gold has spurred many to seek their fortunes in California, the place the Chinese call Gum San or “Gold Mountain.” Amidst this backdrop, Quiang, a new Chinese immigrant, works the dangerous rails hoping to save enough money to send home to his parents. In town, Leah and Clara, two enterprising women from New York, have plans of their own to grow a restaurant and laundry business. However, both plans go awry when Quiang and Leah meet one fateful day. What starts as a budding attraction soon grows into tumultuous desire despite the cultural and language barriers between them.
Initially resistant, Leah succumbs to passion following a tragic loss that leaves her vulnerable and alone. With hopes for a future that now includes Leah, Quiang embarks on a perilous path as he leaves the railroad behind for a more profitable position as a courier for The Tong, henchmen for the dangerous Triad. Quiang soon finds that navigating the secretive life of a courier brings more danger than he has ever faced on the railroad, dangers that not only threaten to tear him and Leah apart, but may cost them their lives as well.
UUUGH! THIS BOOK! I loved and hated this book in equal measure.
1) It was too short. Cullars is a great story teller. I wanted this book to go on and on and on. I want sequels I know I’m not going to get. This hurts my heart.
2) It doesn’t follow a regular romance formal. We all know the cues we’re looking for after the meet-cute, but you don’t get those cues in this story. It makes sense. It’s 1865 for one. It’s not like a Chinese man and a black woman could skip through the streets and not run into any issues, so large chunks of the story involve them being apart, but thinking about each other. IT WAS TORTURE!
3) It was too short.
4) The slurs are hard. I don’t want to hear black people referred to as Negroes and colored. Nor, on any planet in the whole universe do I want to hear the phrase Chinamen, but Cullars stays true to the times and the culture. Leah and Quiang are surrounded by actual racists so these brutal words are a part of their reality and our American history. I appreciated the use for their authenticity and hated it all at once.
5) Did I mention the length?
6) Quiang and Leah are a very sweet couple. Quiang isn’t perfect. He gets caught up in some dangerous business, but he’s a hard working, caring, ethical man. You want him to succeed and you want to be with Leah. Leah is a ball of mush. Cullars does a really great job of show how black women have to appear strong for their own survival, but how they are just vulnerable as the next person. Loved this.
7) Listen. It was too effing short. By the time I got to the end, I was ready for a whole other book. Just read it. You’ll get to the end and be like WHAT! I might send Cullars an email. I kid. (I’m dead serious)
Final Assessment: Read it. It’s beautiful love story set in a crappy time for people of color. Grade: B+