While this is the 11th book in the loosely connected Porthkennack series, it's book 3 for the Roscarrocks; this one being about Branok (Bran) who was a real git in the first two books, and whom I'd basically written off as a jerk not worth my time.
Boy, was I wrong.
It could theoretically also be read as a standalone, though the characters from the previous two books make an appearance, and it would probably be best to read both of them before reading this one, to fully grasp the layers of Bran's misunderstood character.
Bran was a real a-hole to his nephew Devan (from book 1) when he came to Porthkennack to search for his birth mother, though it's not clear why until this book.
Bran showed some contempt for his little brother Jory (from book 2), and again, the reasons aren't clear until this book.
Living with a huge burden on his shoulders, his late father's voice in his ear, Bran has locked himself into the closet all his life, never feeling free to be who he really is. His twin sister Bea (Devan's mother) and he have spent most their adult life on their family estate, setting themselves apart from the general populace as what would 500 years ago be similar to feudal overlords.
And Bran has for many, many years kept a massive secret from his sister and brother.
Sam Ferreira is an old friend of Jory, whom he met while at university. Trusting someone he thought he could trust turned out to be detrimental for Sam's academic career, and, in some debt from gambling, he's now in dire need of a new job. When Jory comes to him about helping with an exhibit Bran is funding, about The Black Prince, Sam jumps at the chance to prove himself and says yes.
And thus Bran and Sam meet. The romance between them is slow burn by design - and when I say slow, I mean slooooooooow. There's a lot of UST and longing, but we're more than halfway in before they first kiss. To be honest, the slow burn was necessary - both men have baggage, and it takes some time for Bran and Sam to trust the other.
The romance is quiet, almost taking a backseat to the rest of the plot, which is basically an exploration, a study of Bran's character. The man, outwardly sensible and hard and difficult to read, is in reality vulnerable, insecure, and scared. He hides his true self. He's taken on the responsibility of carrying the family legacy. He's jealous, he's demanding, and he barks at others. But he puts family above all else, he's generous, and he desperately wants to be loved. Even if he's loathe to admit that to anyone, including himself.
I'm not one who needs a lot of on-page sex, and this book doesn't have a lot of it, which suited me fine. What passion there is felt genuine. We leave Bran and Sam with a HFN, but one that I can absolutely see turn into a HEA, possibly in a future book in which we get to revisit these characters.
** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. **
This was a really good book. I found it fascinating to see something written from the point of view of a Muslim character. I found the author’s note at the beginning quite moving as well. Sometimes author’s notes can be annoying or preachy, but this didn’t feel like that at all. The harsh reality of it is an eye opener and something to make a reader more aware.
I can’t judge how accurate the representation is (I am a white lady) but I found it very interesting. Maya’s family is the only Muslim family in her small Ohio town. She is the only black student in her high school. Maya is bright and bubbly. She has dreams of being a film director. She makes her own movies, mostly family stuff, mainly weddings and big events.
The novel opens with Maya filming a big Indian wedding. Which seems fun and very colourful. Her parents are quite strict and have a set idea of what they want for her future - go to college, become a lawyer, marry a nice boy from a good Indian family. Maya wants to go to film school in New York. She doesn’t quite know how to tell her parents. She has an ally in her aunt, her mother’s sister who never married and lives her own life quite comfortably. She’s more of a role model for Maya than her mother. Mother can be very overbearing and doesn’t seem to get the fact that her teenage daughter likes her privacy.
Maya actually meets a nice Indian boy at the wedding, a young man named Kareem, a college student, their parents are thrilled. One thing this novel had in abundance – descriptions of Indian food that makes your mouth water. I love Indian food. So these descriptions always made me smile and want to gobble whatever was being described. Maya also finds her long term school crush, popular boy Phil finally starts paying attention to her.
Phil’s nice and friendly, though he has a popular ex-girlfriend and her cronies who don’t seem to know that the relationship’s over which creates angst for Maya. She and Phil have great rapport and develop a believable friendship. At the same time she’s spending time with Kareem as well. Chatting with her best friend as well.
The dialogue is believable, the characters fleshed out well. Maya is likeable main character, and her struggles are easy to understand and identify with. While there’s some cultural differences as she has difficulty getting to grips with her parents expectations and her own desires. At one point it all seems like everything’s going to work out.
Then there is a terrorist attack. And Maya and her family have the same surname as the prime suspect. And is subjected to shocking treatment. Her parents’ business is vandalized, she is bullied at school. Her parents start tightening the leash again. Her dreams are defeated. It’s just heart-breaking to see the treatment she gets and it’s awful. She’s done nothing wrong. Her family have done nothing wrong.
At least the authorities in the town seem to be on the side of Maya and her parents. They don’t treat them as suspects and vow to protect the family from the violence they find themselves confronted with. Maya finds herself in a very dangerous situation during a school field trip, cornered by a bully intent on causing her harm simply because of her religion. Which is disgusting. Thankfully there’s a witness and she’s saved before something really bad can happen.
A wake up call for Maya as she finally decides it’s her future, and it’s up to her – not her parents. Her parents reaction is a little over the top (at least in this reader’s opinion) given their own history and how they came to be in the United States. It’s sad as well, but at least Maya has her aunt there to support her and help.
Gut-wrenching at times, sweet at others, funny in some moments, this was a really enjoyable book. Believable concluded as well. Definitely worth reading and an author I would like to read more from.
Thank you to Netgalley and Bonnier Zaffre /Hot Key Books for approving my request to view the title.
I love books that make me feel something. Whether it is loss, pain, regret, happiness or love. The fact that the book has an effect emotionally to a reader means it has a very legitimate tie to the real world. This is the exact reason I wanted to read these three books. I knew it would provoke something in me and create discussion. I'm all for discussion, as long as its an adult and mature one. I know that my views are not shared by everyone and this is why I have held off on reviewing these books. But I feel we sometimes hide too much because of the fear. The fear that we will be yelled at, blamed, called names. So while I debate on whether to review these and other controversial books, Id like to know how you guys feel.
Maybe not about the books above, but regarding books that hit a nerve. I'm interested to hear what you think