The Lex List
Sistah Girls, it’s been a while ladies, and I do apologize. Life was beyond crazy for me in 2022. While it was a great year for me it was also a super busy year as well.
I missed sharing what I read and loved with you all monthly and it feels good to be back. You know the saying, sharing is caring! In January I found a new to me author in Charity Shane with an arranged marriage.
I found a beautifully written second chance romance in Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan. And I found nostalgia in a mid-90s story featuring a feared street crew going by the name of The Newtowne Boys. Here is what I read and absolutely LOVED in January 2023!
5 Stars for Before I Let Go (Skyland Book 1) by Kennedy Ryan (SGBC Book of the Month)
‘It stings a little, that the ease we use to share is gone. It’s one of the things we never recovered from the most painful season of our lives. That ease came with love, with passion, with partnership.’
-Inner Monologue of Yasmen
When back-to-back tragedies strike, Yasmen, and Josiah Ward find that the dissolution of their marriage becomes the end result of a battle. A battle in a war they’re both trying to survive emotionally, psychologically, and physically every day.
And though the marriage seems to be irrevocably broken slivers of light shine through. The light shines through in their two children as they amicably co-parent. And the light shines through in Grits, a restaurant they successfully run together. Everyone can see that the love is still there between the two, however, it will take MORE than love to get a HEA in this story.
Before I let Go is a beautifully written love story that shows you can overcome the dark spaces that try to consume you when you’re in a broken place. This book is full of angst, laughter, tears, anger, jealousy, regret, hope, and so much love.
Ryan flexes her writing muscle by taking a deep dive into grief and the many ways people handle it. The story holds such intensity at certain points that you will want to put it down and yet you just can’t stop reading. I highly recommend it, especially if you enjoy second-chance romance!
5 Stars for Snow White and The Seven Hustlas (Books 1, 2 & 3) by Natavia
‘Maybe I should start dressing more feminine, so these hoes can see me as a threat. A hustla in heels…yeah, I like the sound of that.’ – Thoughts of Redz
Snow White and the Seven Hustlas follows the story Redz aka Shanessa and a fierce crew of six young men in Annapolis that she grew up with called The Newtowne Boys.
When Redz makes the decision to be a dope dealer it forcibly ends her relationship with her first and true love, Trigg. Years pass and Redz finds herself eventually looking to get back in Trigg’s good graces because she now needs more product and Trigg has plenty.
Things are going well, the crew is loyal and appears to be impenetrable or so it seems, there is a snake in the crew. The snake is plagued by jealousy and fueled by hate. Will Trigg cut the head off the snake before it strikes or will the crew fall victim to the snake’s venomous bite?
Natavia takes readers on a journey as she provides storylines for each of the Newtowne crew members in the span of three books. The backdrop of the early 90s has its own role to play as readers receive doses of nostalgia from an era that was infamous for its street/hood culture.
My only gripe is that I wish it was edited a little better. Sidenote: This book earned 5 stars. I know the editing could have been better but the storytelling was on 100! SOOOO GOOD! I couldn’t put it down.
Thank goodness all three books were already released. Overall, I was completely immersed in this crew and all the twists and turns along the way. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy Street Lit!
3 Stars for Scars: An Urban Love Tale by Keishawn Don’El
“I’m scared Keenon.” She looked up at him and the fear within her eyes did something to him.’
In Scars, you meet Asia right as she is being released from prison. Instead of seeing her longtime boyfriend/fiancé Johnathan waiting for her, she spots her twin sister, America. Eventually, Asia reunites with Johnathan but she can’t shake the feeling that something is…off about him.
Through her twin, Asia is introduced to Keenon. Initially, the two don’t really get along yet when an opportunity arises Keenon and Asia capitalize on it.
Soon after they realize that they’re drawn to one another and as Keenon and Asia give in to that desire they have no idea that it is to the dismay of those closest to them.
The best way I can describe Scars is as a drama-filled hood romance with plenty of twists and turns. I was happy that Asia had Keenon because Johnathan was slick as grease.
Now, while this is not my favorite book by this author, I still enjoyed the story and will definitely be reading book two. Editing was an issue while reading but not too distracting because honestly, the drama had my attention. I recommend readers check out Keishawn Don’el’s catalog if you’re looking for heavy drama-filled urban romances.
4 Stars for Spousal Privilege by Charity Shane (A New to Me Author)
‘Fake or not, we are getting married and she will be my wife. It’s up to me to determine how this end. I want her and I can make her mine.’ – Inner Monologue of Dom
In Spousal Privilege readers are introduced to a teenage Zoree(15) and Dom(17); they initially meet through their parents. The two quickly become more than friends with a secret teenage love affair.
Though soon after Zoree disappears leaving Dom devastated. Years pass and Zoree is back in town to celebrate her 21st birthday and the start of her new job in the family business.
Her party just so happens to be taking place at Dom’s club and everything is going well until Zoree finds herself the only witness to a murder.
I thought this was a great take on arranged marriage. Shane adds her own spin to how the arrangement storyline unfolds, and I really liked how she did that. I can’t say much about that without spilling spoilers. This was my first read by Shane and I know it will not be my last.
One thing I enjoyed was how Shane provided great secondary characters/character interactions with the best friend of Zoree, Kya, and the brothers of Dom, Blaise, and Just. I recommend Spousal Privilege to all second-chance romance lovers as well as those who love a good, arranged marriage story!
4 Stars for Love to the B Power (The Philadelphia Heights Series Book 1) by Mya Kay
‘My prayer: That I won’t allow the scars of my past to screw up the healing of my present.
With Love, Brooklyn’ -Brooklyn’s Journal Entry
Barry Carter is a sports manager and consultant in his own firm in Philadelphia. He is fresh off a breakup when he meets author and entrepreneur Brooklyn Myers at a business conference.
The attraction is instant, and an impromptu lunch date leads to the couple dating on a regular. As the months pass with Barry and Brooklyn growing closer they start to experience some turbulence.
One disruption is Barry’s ex-girlfriend Simone who pops up whenever and wherever much to the couples’ dismay just because she believes that she is a better fit for him.
When things seem to be too much for her Brooklyn draws back and even though Barry gives her some space, he knows that he heard God clearly. Brooklyn will become his wife.
It starts with a breakup, but the story ends with true love. Love to the B Power shows what happens when you follow God’s plan when for your life. As a Philly native, I loved how Mya wove the city and its many attractions into the story.
As a Christ follower, I love how Mya placed God in the story to lead her characters into their destiny. This was a quick read that delves into the heavy topic of sex trafficking. I recommend this read to all romance lovers and especially Christian romance lovers!
IF YOU’VE READ ANY OF THE BOOKS FEATURED I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS!
For The Curious: Now, I don’t know how others base their ratings but the following is how I base mine and why. The writing style of an author holds major weight for me. Even though I have a few preferences, I’ve decided to go by a template with regard to how I judge a book to avoid being biased.
How appealing are its characters, how well do they develop, plot developments, and how descriptive is the writing or lack thereof? Then I follow it by looking at the author’s ability to properly foreshadow future events, resolutions to major and minor events, and how well the author carries multiple themes and/or plotlines throughout the book.
Basically, judging the story’s overall structure which should be important to any writer, and because of all of this, I am extremely stingy with giving out stars.
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