Genre Fiction: Contemporary romance
Blurb “Ifeoma and her sisters escaped an emotionally abusive father to start a new life in Lagos. She is determined to never let another man have control over her, even if that means never falling in love. That is until she meets Chuma, a wealthy and domineering man who is exactly the kind of man she is determined to stay away from but somehow can’t seem to keep away from. An unlikely relationship develops, taking them from joy to a devastating loss and finally to betrayal. Ifeoma must decide, but she is torn between her painful past and a chance at a future with Chuma…
Chuma is a cutthroat obsessive financial mogul whose sole purpose in life is to make his family name great. And he is determined to let nothing distract him from achieving his goal. But when he meets Ifeoma, an elusive, hardworking chef, he finds himself irresistibly drawn to her. They embark on a turbulent journey of friendship and love, which is eventually shattered by tragedy. Chuma wants to heal the rift that has grown between them and will go to any lengths to do so. However, he encounters secrets from her past…”
Dialogue Well written. Believable and relatable.
Themes Love, Family – blessing or curse, Societal Pressure, Grief, Mental Health, Vulnerability of the strong, Communication, Feminism and Self-reliance.
Editing Some errors.
Plot The book is divided into two parts; “Life Before Love–Running Away from Ghosts” and “Life After Love–Confronting Ghosts.” The first part tells a tale of Ifeoma and her three sisters, Nene, Ngozi and Chioma who run away from their emotionally abusive, alcoholic father intent on marrying them off for money. They escape to Lagos where Ifeoma opens a restaurant, Eastern Delight. Ifeoma is protective of her sisters and wary of men because of the abuse from her father. She meets Chuma- a wealthy entrepreneur who frequents her restaurant. Chuma is obsessive, manipulative and has sworn off being in a committed relationship. He is drawn to Ifeoma and convinces her to become his friend and then wife. The second part addresses their marriage. Five years in, a tragic accident coupled with ghosts from Ifeoma’s past threatens to derail their happiness.
What worked? Thorns and Roses is the second book in a trilogy about the same family but can be read as a standalone book. Like most romance books, the main characters meet, fall in love, have some issues along the way and then reconcile and live happily ever after. Or so we thought until we read this book, we went from awwww to what the heck, in the space of a page turn! We didn’t see that plot twist coming, and this was really what caught our attention and made us review this book instead of the other two in the trilogy. Even though, those were also lovely reads.
The book starts off with a poem, “Do I Disappoint You?” This poem is about a fifth girl child born to parents who want a male child. It conveys the pain behind her existence; of not being accepted by her father and the pressure to have a son for her husband.
Amaka writes romance set in Nigeria but her books always address some societal issues. This book addresses the societal and cultural pressure to have a male child. Ours is a culture that values the male child over the female child. This results in gender disappointment, parents who experience this project their disappointment unto their children. The book shows us the different effects it has on the children; Ifeoma’s suspicion of men and Nene’s desire to be loved and taken care of, at all cost (let’s call it “daddy issues”). Other societal issues like domestic abuse and the class system are in the background of the story. The good thing is that Amaka strikes the right balance between highlighting societal issues and writing about the romance between the main characters.
This book has such an interesting and engaging storyline that even though we read it when it was first published in 2017, it was still enjoyable to read it again for this review. The characters are so real; they are bound to elicit reaction from you. Chuma was frustrating and Ifeoma’s constant refrain, “I am not my mother; I am a strong woman,” had us rolling our eyes a few times. Yet, it is a testament to Amaka’s storytelling skills that she has such compelling characters in the book.
If you like steamy romance stories with a bit more than just romance between the main characters, then Thorns and Roses is the book for you. It is an intriguing and heart-warming story.
What didn’t work?
Mo Character development for the male protagonist Chuma could have been improved on. He didn’t really grow out of the need to rely heavily on manipulation to achieve his goals. This made his character a bit toxic. (Let’s leave this type of character for Mills and Boons, shall we?).
Lady B There were some loose ends which I’ll refer to briefly in order not to include spoilers. A young general in Nigeria is not a reality these days in the time after military rule. Nowadays, people in the military have to rise through the ranks which takes time. Some sums of money discussed indicated that the author wasn’t really conversant with the cost of things in Nigeria. Also, references to business transactions and legal processes should have been better researched as they are not in tandem with the realities in Nigeria.
One other thing which stuck out like a sore thumb was reading that Chuma was borderline OCD right after the bit about him being tidy. OCD is a mental illness which is more complex than people who love things to be neat and tidy. As such, the term should only be used for people who exhibit the symptoms or have been properly diagnosed with having OCD.
Number of pages 440.
Publisher Accomplish Press.
Damage N500 on Okadabooks.
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