Mini Reviews: The “Slow Burn” Edition


Today I’m sharing reviews of some new and recent releases that are sure to please anyone who enjoys a fun and heartwarming read with a side of slow burn romance.


Mini Reviews:  The “Slow Burn” EditionReal Men Knit Goodreads

Author: Kwana Jackson

Publication Date: May 19, 2020

Publisher:  Berkley Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.


Kwana Jackson’s new novel, Real Men Knit, is a heartwarming story about what happens when a prominent Harlem business owner, Mama Joy Strong, unexpectedly passes away and her four adoptive sons are left to determine what happens to Strong Knits, her beloved knitting shop.

I was drawn into this story right away because of Mama Joy.  Even though she’s deceased, Mama Joy is still such a major presence in the book. She’s the thread that ties everyone together and was clearly loved and respected by all who knew her. I also just loved that she chose to adopt not just one or two, but four (!) troubled boys who were in foster care and made them all into a family.  She just struck me as one of those people you instantly wish you had had the opportunity to meet because she was clearly a force of nature.

What surprised me about Real Men Knit is that I went into it expecting a romance based on the synopsis, but while the story does have a hint of romance, I would consider it more a story about family and about growing up.  One of the main characters is Jesse, one of Mama Joy’s sons.  Jesse is the butt of many a joke in the Strong household because 1) he has no real direction in life yet in terms of a career, and 2) because he has a reputation as a ladies’ man, specifically for moving from one woman to the next, leaving a trail of broken hearts in his wake.  The other thing about Jesse though is that he loved Mama Joy more than anything and it’s Jesse who is the driving force behind wanting to save Strong Knits and preserve his mama’s legacy.  He also wants to prove to his brothers that he’s not the screw up they think he is.  Jesse won me over right away, mainly because of his intense devotion to Mama Joy, and I was rooting for him to win his brothers over to the cause of saving Strong Knits.

The hint of romance comes in the form of Kerry Fuller, the other main character, who also grew up thinking of Strong Knits as her home away from home and Mama Joy as her second mom. Kerry is invested in saving the shop as well and agrees to help Jesse.  Sparks fly and there is definitely chemistry between them, but it’s a slow burn affair because Jesse has to get past thinking of Kerry as ‘Little Kerry’ that he grew up with, and Kerry has to get past Jesse’s reputation as the neighborhood heartbreaker.  It’s sweet watching the two of them come together to save the shop but I definitely would have preferred a little less of a slow burn.

Real Men Knit is a wonderful story about family and community, and yes, about love too.  If you’re in the mood for a heartwarming story that will put a smile on your face, look no further.



Mini Reviews:  The “Slow Burn” EditionSomething to Talk About Goodreads

Author: Meryl Wilsner

Publication Date: May 26, 2020

Publisher:  Berkley Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.


Meryl Wilsner’s debut romance Something to Talk About was such a fun read for me.  It centers on Jo Jones, a showrunner for a popular TV series who is now looking to make her move to the big screen when she signs on to pen the script for the next installment in a hugely popular action series.  Hollywood being what it is, there are plenty of people lined up ready and waiting to gossip about how Jo’s not up for the job.  Jo is already tired of fielding questions about the new film and whether she’s the right person for the job, so when she has to attend a major award ceremony, she asks her trusted assistant Emma to accompany her and serve as a buffer to drive away the reporters.  An innocent moment between Jo and Emma is caught on camera and the rumor mill runs wild with it, declaring them a couple and trying to spin it into a scandal worthy of the tabloids.

We watch the story unfold from the alternating perspectives of Jo and Emma, and I thought this was very well done. I liked seeing how each woman reacted to the growing scandal, and, in particular, how worried they were for each other.  Would Jo be deemed as a predatory employer taking advantage of her assistant?  Or would Emma be seen as trying to sleep her way to the top?  Ever-present paparazzi and on-set leaks have both women on edge, second guessing their every interaction and who might be watching them. It makes for some very awkward moments between them, especially since the more closely they work together to make it look like they aren’t romantically involved, the more they begin to realize they actually do have feelings for one another.  I really liked both Jo and Emma so I was definitely cheering them on, both to beat back the rumor mongers and to take the leap to coupledom.

Something to Talk About is an entertaining read that also takes a hard look at some of the more toxic elements of working in show business.  I loved this aspect of the story, especially since it featured Jo kicking butt and taking names, reminiscent of today’s Me Too movement.  About the only real downside of the book for me was that it felt like the actual romance I was looking for and expecting took a back seat to everything else.  I don’t mind a slow burn romance at all, but I felt like I was nearly finished with the book before we really started to get a hint of any potential romance between Emma and Jo. If that had happened, just a little sooner, it would have been an even better read for me.  Even with that though, I would highly recommend Something to Talk About to anyone who enjoys women’s fiction and an inside look at Hollywood culture.

21 replies
  1. Genesis @ Whispering Chapters
    Genesis @ Whispering Chapters says:

    I heard Real Men Knit was being dubbed as romance, but it’s more of a contemporary or women’s fiction. So I may pass on it. But Something To Talk About is one I’ve been eyeing for a while now! It sucks the romance took a back seat, though.

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Yeah, Real Men Knit certainly has an element of romance to it, but the family story takes precedence over it. Something to Talk About has it as well but you just have to be super patient waiting for anyone to actually make a move, lol.

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Real Men Knit was a really enjoyable read for me. I loved the characters, the extended family/community feel, etc.

  2. Nick @ The Infinite Limits of Love
    Nick @ The Infinite Limits of Love says:

    Real Men Knit sounds wonderful and I have to meet Mama Joy. I love books with a strong family focus and the family dynamics with the brothers being adopted sounds so interesting. Good to know that the romance is not at the forefront of the book. I have a copy, so I’ll be sure to pick it up!

    I’m so glad you liked Something to Talk About even though the romance was super slow. I was warned going in that the romance was super slow so it didn’t bother me as much. I do hope the author releases like a bonus epilogue where they are being extra romantic! 🙂

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Yeah, I think if you go into Something to Talk About knowing to be patient about the romance, it helps. I love the idea of a bonus epilogue though because I’d love to see more of Jo and Emma. 🙂

  3. Angela
    Angela says:

    I’ve seen some mixed reactions to Real Men Knit, so I’m glad to see you enjoyed it! I like that it has a strong family element to it.

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Yeah, I could see it being disappointing for anyone looking for a full-on romance. The romance is there but you definitely have to be patient and wait for it.

  4. Amber Elise @ Du Livre
    Amber Elise @ Du Livre says:

    Mama Joy was such an influential figure, I would have loved to have more scenes with her (in the form of flashbacks).

    I really liked how Wilsner took a close look at the not so glamorous side of Hollywood. I also really enjoyed that Emma knew her self worth.

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Oh yes, I would have loved more of Mama Joy too, especially some flashbacks with the boys when they were younger or even with her knitting group. That one scene with them toward the end made me cry a bit, lol.

  5. Verushka Byrow
    Verushka Byrow says:

    Jesse in Real Men Knit sounds so lovely — I think that’s a story where wouldn’t mind a slow burn to be honest.

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Yeah, I didn’t mind the slow burn overall. It surprised me that it took so long but the story was still really enjoyable for me.

  6. Tanya @ Girl Plus Books
    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books says:

    I’ve been seeing a lot of mixed reviews for Real Men Knit and it seems to be because of expectations that weren’t met. And I can understand that because the cover and synopsis does seem to lean to contemporary romance. But expectations aside, I really like the focus on family and community.

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Yeah, I think if I had gone in expecting a full-on romance, I probably would have felt a little let down by how long we had to wait. The focus on family really pulled me in though so I was okay with waiting for the romance.

  7. Olivia Roach
    Olivia Roach says:

    Real Men Knit actually sounds so so wholesome. It’s so emotional when you never get to meet a character on page but you get to meet them through the imprint they have left on other people’s lives. I definitely think grief is truly like that at times, and it sounds like such a good book about family. I think I would read it for those reasons. And Something to talk about actually sounds quite funny in some ways, and then important in others with the portrayal of scandal and show biz.

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