Reviewed for Wit and Sin
Real Men Knit is a love note to family and community that would be perfect for a movie. It was oh-so-easy to fall for Kerry and the Strong family; so much so that I didn’t want to put the book down.
In the wake of his adoptive mother’s death Jesse Strong finds himself at loose ends. He’s always been seen as the brother who didn’t live up to his potential and now that Mama Joy is gone he doesn’t seem to know what to do. But when his brothers start to talk about selling their mother’s shop, Strong Knits, Jesse finds his focus. Strong Knits isn’t just important to their family – it’s a piece of the heart of their Harlem neighborhood. I loved watching Jesse find his passion, seeing him carry on his mother’s legacy but also making it his own. Jesse finds himself over the course of the story and he’s so loveable that you can’t help but be sucked into his journey.
But Jesse can’t reopen the knitting shop on his own. He needs the help of Kerry Fuller, his mother’s part-time employee and the woman who knows Strong Knits best. Kerry has just finished her degree in children’s counseling and art therapy and should be looking for a full-time job in her field, but she can’t resist helping Jesse. Kerry has always been the typical “girl next door” to the Strong brothers and sometimes that frustrates her…especially when it comes to her longtime crush, Jesse. Kerry has always been in the shadows and I enjoyed her journey over the course of Real Men Knit as she takes her place in the sun. She’s an incredibly giving person (sometimes to her own detriment) and her heart of gold plus the way she cares for everyone around her makes her a heroine you can root for.
Real Men Knit is Jesse and Kerry’s story, but author Kwana Jackson brings the world of Strong Knits alive with an endearing supporting cast. Jesse’s sometimes troubled relationship with his brothers was one of my favorite parts of the book. I desperately hope each brother gets a book of his own (especially my favorite, the sensitive Noah). All four men are so different but Mama Joy brought them together and made them a family. Mama Joy may have passed before the beginning of the book, but her presence and the impact she had on her boys’ lives and her community is felt throughout. The only downside to this is that she sounded like such a generous, strong, loving, downright incredible woman that I wish I could have “met” her.
The romance is where Real Men Knit falls short. It had the potential to be a good slow-burn love story, but it never quite hit the mark. At one point, one of Jesse’s brothers indicates that he doesn’t know if Jesse sees Kerry as a mother figure, sister, or lover and that’s part of the problem. The romance plotline doesn’t really take hold until near the end of the book and I never felt any growth or true change in their relationship, aside from giving into mutual attraction. Jesse and Kerry aren’t a bad couple – they’re far too likeable for that. Rather, there was something missing that made the romance fall flat. If this book were general fiction instead of a romance, my overall enjoyment of the book wouldn’t have really changed if they hadn’t ended up together. Ms. Jackson definitely showed that Kerry and Jesse love each other, but even by the end it didn’t feel like they were in love. That one plot issue aside, I adored Real Men Knit and I’m eager to read more about the Strong family.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.