This romance would have worked better for me if it had not been a romance – not a thing I thought I would ever say.
Wedding gown designer Maya Jackson has been struggling to find a place in a big name designer’s company for a while. She wants to incorporate the west African and Filipino design and stitching techniques she learned from her mother into her gowns, but the white woman who owns the company sees no value in them. Early in the book, Maya’s boss says a big racism, and you know that she will be an antagonist for Maya to overcome. The best and most interesting parts of the book are about Maya as a designer, learning to trust herself.
Unfortunately, the first time we meet her soon to be love interest, Derek, he’s thinking of a customer in his bridal shop as a bridezilla. If I had not felt obligated to keep reading, I would have quit at that slap of misogyny. Maya has a lot to overcome beyond working for a terrible person who undermines her self esteem, but will use her labor. She also lives with a chronic illness, sickle cell anemia, which gives her a shortened life expectancy. And she’s had to take unpaid leave to care for her father, so she’s got big financial worries. Why does she also need a man who thinks of his customers as monsters?
Derek does improve as the book goes on, and his story was the most interesting when he was trying to rebuild his relationship with his daughter. There were two pretty good books in here, but they didn’t quite work together for me.
Content warnings: racism, misogyny, living with chronic illness, off page death of parent from cancer, and off page death of spouse in a racist mass shooting event.
I received this as an advance reader copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.