Genre Fiction: Contemporary romance
Blurb “Life is beautiful especially when you’re in love.
Dive into these five hand-picked contemporary romance novellas and fall in love this Valentine’s Day.
Unexpected Love by Amaka Azie
Bitter Sweet Symphony by Fiona Khan
Golden Valentine by Nana Prah
Boot Camp Seduction by Sable Rose
Mr Hot Mocha Perfection by Empi Baryeh”
Dialogue Well written with a smattering of different African languages and lingo.
Themes Love, Family, Heartbreak of Betrayal, Gender Roles, Social Mobility, Self-Preservation, Feminism and Technology in Society.
Editing Some copy editing errors. The last story has different font sizes in some paragraphs on a number of pages.
Plot This is a collection of five short stories:
Unexpected Love – Yemi Okeke, a 36-year-old medical doctor moves to Lagos to start over again after a public and humiliating breakup with her boyfriend of 6 years in Enugu. She gets a job in Vincent Mba’s hospital but he wants more than a professional relationship. He has to find a way to win Yemi’s trust and allay his family’s fears that she is past her prime.
Bitter Sweet Symphony – Aliya O’Henry, a medical doctor meets Jack Larrimore in hospital after a tragic incident involving his sister. They are attracted to each other but both have baggage from their past which they need to work through if they are to be together. This story touched on parenting and family.
Golden Valentine – Sena Ewuram and Yiko Ayoma have been in love with each other for years but neither has let the other know about their feelings because of the complication of their relationship as “siblings.” Yiko was adopted by Sena’s father and does not want to betray the trust of the man who saved him from an abusive uncle. A tragic incident on Valentine’s Day means they have to decide whether or not to be together.
Boot Camp Seduction – Following a public and humiliating breakup ostensibly because of her weight, Amaka Dilibe, a full figured woman signs up to a weight loss boot camp owned by Tiago Omole. Amaka is a successful entrepreneur and Tiago is facing the possibility of losing his business, he is presented with a plan to seduce Amaka for money. What could go wrong?
Mr Hot Mocha Perfection – Ama Sarfoa, a graduate student meets a handsome stranger, Adinkra Kusi-Andoh and entertains thoughts of him being Mr Right until she finds out he is one of her professors. They are attracted to each other but their relationship threatens Adinkra’s career. He has to decide whether to save his career or the woman he loves.
Unexpected Love deals with two societal issues, the single woman in her late thirties and the older woman-younger man relationship. For these reasons, it brings something different and interesting to the table of African contemporary romance. Yemi’s tales of woe as her mother set her up with a number of blind dates is relatable especially the part where she has to diminish herself so as not to intimidate her date.
Lady B I particularly liked the progression in character development for Vincent. Over the course of the story, we see how he revises his earlier old fashioned views on women’s roles in relationships and society.
Golden Valentine is a heart-warming and sweet love story. It was disturbing to read about the travails of Yiko but in his case, he got lucky as he was rescued by a kind family. Nana weaves a believable and engaging story about kindness, a sense of duty and sacrifice.
Bootcamp Seduction is a steamy love story about betrayal and forgiveness. Amaka’s public and humiliating breakup showed the extent of the reach of social media in the lives of everyday people even in a developing country like Nigeria.
Lady B I liked Tiago’s imperfection as it made for a more realistic character.
Mo A full figured woman finding love with a fraudster. LOL. I kid, no I don’t. That was the first thing that came to my head- that he was a gold digger, but all’s well that ends well, right?
Mr Hot Mocha Perfection, despite its cringe worthy title, is an enjoyable story about finding love in controversial circumstances.
Lady B I liked Ama’s independence and the tension created by Adinkra’s position as her professor. Empi’s resolution of the ethical issue worked for me.
Mo This story is the perfect serving of cheese you asked for.
Lady B I enjoyed reading four stories in this collection. I have read all of Amaka’s books but none from the other authors so I’m looking forward to reading their books.
Mo I enjoyed Golden Valentine best in this collection. I also liked Unexpected Love. The remaining stories were clichés.
What didn’t work?
Unexpected Love -The story about how Vincent fought for control of his father’s company as a 16-year-old sounds a bit far-fetched and doesn’t acknowledge the legal hurdles a minor would face with inherited property.
The second story, Bitter Sweet Symphony, despite its lovely title, did not work at all. It stuck out like a sore thumb in this collection. The narration was choppy, the main character, Jack was boorish and insufferable, for no just cause. I never worked out why he was so antagonistic towards his brother-in-law. It also had transition issues between scenes especially between past and present.
Bootcamp Seduction – Sable Rose glossed over Tiago’s feelings about Amaka’s weight issues and body flaws.
Unlike Lady B, I didn’t see the progression in Vincent’s character development. One minute, he was old school, the next, his views were revised and he accepted Yemi just like that.
Every cliché you heard about romance novels is reproduced in this collection. Sometimes, the writing left much to be desired as it was reminiscent of Mills and Boon romance novels.
Number of pages 944 on Okadabooks.
Publisher Love Press Africa.
Damage N2,000 on Okadabooks.
Have you read Be My Valentine? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.