“If a kiss has a color, this one is the muted shades of the sky overhead, a ménage à trois of midnight and indigo and moonshine silver…”
I know I’m a little – okay, a lot – late to the awestruck party of this spectacular masterpiece but let’s just say that I finally understand why this duet is so popular. I finished this over a week ago and it’s taken me this long to write a review because, well, I couldn’t stop swooning/crying over the brilliance of the quotes I wanted to add to my review. And then I’d just given up and go back and reread the entire chapter and sigh into chocolate because OH MY GOD. Thus, after a days of one of hardest book-hangover ever, I decided to just, well, give in and babble my appreciation.
For me, this duet – yes, I’m reviewing the two books together because I read them together as one – sets the platinum-diamond standard for contemporary romance that revolves around politics and its often murky ground. Set in a exceptionally meaningful and complicated context, the characters tackle racism, sexism, privilege, inequality, climate change and many other important present-day issues. And yet, not once does the book or dialogue become preachy. Rather, its nuanced, intimate and so deeply felt, it leaves you both, impressed and shaken.
“Injustice never rest and neither will I.”
Yet, despite such heavy loaded context, not once does the plot derail from what it is at its core: a romance novel between two complicated, strong adults. Maxim and Lennix are grown up, nuanced protagonists, ambitious and clever as well as vulnerable.
Lennix is, quiet simply, mind-blowing. Modern as well as deeply connected to her roots, feminine, passionate and assertive about her work, unapologetic about her dreams and desires. Maxim, too, is no slouch, either. It was delightful to read a hero who’s both, an alpha wrecked by his love for a woman as well as a genuine feminist. A supportive ally and a protective partner, mature enough to draw the line between courtship and coercion. Oh, and he also apologizes when necessary.
“Some people leave an impression, but Lennix left her mark on me. Shaped like a star.”
Ms. Ryan proves herself to be an unparalleled master of her craft and poignantly balances the intimacy of a deeply emotional romance with the murky complications of power, wealth and privilege. Thrown in this mix are also existential questions about what it means to be a successful, ambitious woman of color in a world mostly adamant to knock you down. The prose is gorgeous, the intimacy raw, and the plot ever-giving. This is a story that will stay with it’s reader long after he/she has turned the final page. Undoubtedly a romance novel for all ages to come!
Verdict: 5 💎🌟