It was my turn to pick a book to read and of course I went straight to the multicultural series of Harlequin novels called, Kimani Romance. The book I chose, Sultry Nights, by Donna Hill was highly rated on Amazon and per the agreement Mallory and I have about utilizing the library for this venture, it was available at her local library and as an e-book for me.
Before I get into my synopsis, I have to mention the location, author and male lead in this book presented many coincidences in my own life. Which means I am destined to meet Idris Elba! Yes people! My life is about to be an awesome romance novel.
First thing, is the author of this book is a best-selling Essence Magazine author; which means she is widely read by African American women. The parallel to my world is I am going to the Essence Music Festival this July. Secondly, this book is the last book in a series about a family from Louisiana. The parallel to my world is that the Essence Music Festival is in New Orleans which is in Louisiana. Are you getting goosebumps from the eeriness of this?! Finally, in my first review of Waking Up Married, by Mira Lyn Kelly, I posted a trio of lovely gentlemen that I would not mind waking up married to. One of them was the hunky actor, Idris Elba.
Ok, so this is where is gets super freaky. The male lead in this book, Trevor Jackson is described as follows, “He was an Idris Elba look-alike, with the build and piercing dark eyes to cinch the deal.” WHAT ARE THE ODDS?!!! Naturally, I have taken these foreshadowing clues to mean that I am going to meet Idris Elba (or at least his look alike) at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. Will we wake up married? I am losing my mind from reading romance novels? Stay tuned…
So back to the story…here is my Honest Synopsis of Sultry Nights, by Donna Hill.
Rich, beautiful, defiant, independent, (insert adjective here), content on the surface single lady meets a rugged, handsome Idris Elba type contractor. They are from two different worlds, just like Pretty in Pink, wait, let me find a browner reference…just like…um…um…I am sure I will think of some multicultural wrong side of the tracks movie. Oh! Pick at Tyler Perry movie, like that one with homeless Thandie Newton and the little girl.
Anyway, Hottie Idris has been burned by a rich girl once before and the experience has left him, shall we say bitter. Single Lady is the only single lady in her circle; her older sister, twin sister and best friend are married ladies. After meeting Hottie Idris who is bidding on a Single Lady’s library renovation, she is immediately smitten (who wouldn’t be? I mean come on) and tells her nagging married lady sisters that she is dating Hottie Idris, then sets about actually trying to do that. Meanwhile, Hottie Idris is also dealing with his instant attraction for Single Lady, but gets so angry because he thinks she like the other entitled, rich ladies who will use and discard him.
What Single Lady doesn’t know is Hottie Idris is actually rich. She tries to wine and dine him, to no avail, especially when Hottie Idris sees his ex-flame at the restaurant. He starts a fight with Single Lady after she picks up the check and storms out leaving her confused. She apologizes, he apologizes and they agree to “start over”. They go out again, it goes better. They have loads in common, they are both attracted to one another and of course, one thing leads to another. The aftermath did not go according to plan, no basking in the afterglow. Hottie Idris and Single Lady act like it meant nothing…but it meant everything (I just laughed out loud that I typed that…so dramatic).
Single Lady has a breakdown with her personal assistant, she doesn’t want to play games, she’s tired of being single and wants to be loved by Hottie Idris, but she is scared and now all is ruined!! Single Lady finds the courage to try again and is shot down again by Hottie Idris who just can’t get the chip he has off his shoulders…his broad, muscular shoulders…sorry, momentary lapse.
Eventually Hottie Idris gets his poop in a group and tells Single Lady he wants to “take it slow” and wants to keep things at work professional after frenching her in her office. He sets up a date for that night and all is right with the world. These two finally have a fighting chance until, Ex-flame re-enters the picture with a bombshell. Hottie Idris is a daddy!!! OH, and rich!
While dealing with Ex-flame, Hottie Idris continues to date Single Lady and they are falling in love, until she learns the truth from her spinster aunt who is a famous photojournalist (this becomes important in a minute). Single Lady is of course devastated that Hottie Idris lied to her and in true Lifetime movie fashion (complete with a rain storm) runs to her married lady bestie to download then lands on Hottie Idris’ doorstep soaked and wanting answers.
Hottie Idris tells her the sordid details, he is trying to do what’s best for his kid, he owns a Porsche, yada, yada, yada. Single Lady forgives and they confess love, yada, yada, and agree they are in it together, yada, yada, yada. I probably yada’d over the best parts.
Nosy photojournalist aunt comes back after doing more “digging”with yet another bombshell!!! You can guess what it is, maybe Mallory will tell you, but you have to read some of the book yourselves!
In the end, it ends as all romance novels end…like a Lifetime movie…this time with an all brown cast!
Here’s the skinny from the book:
Our heroine, Dominique Lawson is a single lady who while never physically described, is characteristically described as a freedom loving, independent business woman who is not ready to give it all up to kowtow to a man. She had many suitors and a “relationship attention span of a five-year-old. Most of us single ladies would probably describe ourselves like that, maybe we are not covered in suitors, but most of us are relatively content with life and if a great dude pops up, all the better. Or so we say in the daylight. Behind closed doors in the cold darkness of night, do we really feel the same? Wouldn’t it be nice not to have to murder spiders yourself? Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone who innately knows how to grill a steak? This is what we very quickly learn about Dominique, she’s tired of being alone.
The book starts with her twin sister getting married, making Dominique the lone she wolf. All of her friends and female siblings are married and happy, and popping out babies. Of course they want the same for Dominique and are so wrapped up in being married, that that is all they can talk about which leaves Dominique outside looking in on an exclusive club that she secretly wants to be a part of.
Then she meets Trevor Jackson who I mentioned in the first 1,000 words of this post looks like Idris Elba and her mind is blown.
She wants to climb him like a tree. I know this because the author explains that Dominique’s “pearl” got large or shiny or something that unsubtly indicated her arousal. So, it’s been a while since I have written or read a romantic story. This is the first time I have encountered or thought to use the term “pearl” to refer to lady parts. It was kind of startling to me and I don’t think I will ever look at pearls in jewelry form in the same way. Like I might think twice about wearing pearl earrings. I already think twice about wearing pearl necklaces!
Anyway, Dominique is hot for Trevor and as it happens, Trevor is hot for Dominique. Trevor owns a contracting company and is bidding on a job renovating a floor in Dominique’s office. He is well educated and along with his partner Max, has a very successful business and has a nice investment portfolio. Trevor is not flashy, he’s a regular dude, he does pro-bono work in Louisiana; building homes for people after Hurricane Katrina. He also comes with baggage. He was in love and crushed by a wealthy socialite named Vallyn years earlier and has never forgotten it. He kind of has a chip on his shoulder about it and has some disdain for privileged ladies like Dominique. He’s so attracted to her that he drives around aimlessly for 20 minutes after meeting her just to get her out of his mind. That’s some high intensity right there! He actually gives the best line in the book at the end of chapter three. Max asks him what Dominique looks like in person and he replies, “edible.” I think I laughed out loud when I read that. Who says that? Trevor Jackson does!
So the next day or so after meeting Trevor, Dominique is hanging with her sisters and listening to their incessant nattering about married life when she tells them she met someone…Trevor Jackson. She however does not have the stones to tell them he is her contractor. It is never quite explained why she didn’t. I assumed because she was from a high society family and she was ashamed and thought they would gasp and tell her she was slumming it. Or maybe it was because he was working for her. At this point she has no idea whether Trevor is into her or not, she just blurts this out like a crazy person. Who lies about having a boyfriend at 30? Dominique Lawson does!
For the next few chapters these two are playing games and fighting their true feelings. Vallyn makes an appearance on Trevor and Dominique’s quasi first date. This was the date that Dominique tried to flex her money and sophistication Bachelorette style. Trevor thinks she is kind of pretentious but is super into her until he sees Vallyn which flusters him, then Dominique pays for the check, making matters worse. This was almost a flip the table moment. He was really just weirded out Vallyn, and maybe the check thing, like Dominique just assumed he couldn’t afford it. So there’s friction and misunderstandings. The road to love it fraught with these…love potholes!
Dominique extends the olive branch and she and Trevor agree to start over, forgetting the past awkward dinner. They agree to meet again at a less upscale joint. They drink Hennessey cognac, the first national drink of the browns. Moscato is the second in case you were wondering. They talk, they eat, they are having a good time, he drives her home, she asks him in for coffee. They drink coffee, they talk, they listen to Chrisette Michele songs, they get busy. It’s perfect.
Okay so the music portion of this book reminds me of when I used to write and include music in my stories. I think it helps transport the reader deeper into the story. Right now I am listening to the two songs that were “playing” in the love scene between Dominique and Trevor, “If I Have My Way” and “Notebook” they work. I would have reversed the order, “Notebook” is more up tempo, but that is me. I will be adding the playlist of music I listened to while writing this post at the end :-). I hope you are transported deeper into this review!
After they knock boots (have sex for those of you who don’t get my crazy slang) I am certain you are thinking, “Hooray, they are in love!” Wrong! They are both still playing games. Trevor showers and goes. Dominique diddles with her phone and acts like this is a one-night stand. Both are sad and confused, and a bit angry. The next day Dominique has a breakdown in front of her assistant and we learn the truth, she’s tired of pretending she is ok with being single and she’s got it bad for Trevor and feels like she wrecked it by being so cavalier and Trevor is the one…just like Neo in the Matrix.
The next few chapters are Trevor and Dominique trying to figure out why they are each being so cold. One day Dominique decides to help with the renovation because like all of us who watch HGTV she thinks she is an expert. They have a great time “working” until she brings up the night they banged. She actually apologizes to him and he acts like a macho douche. He’s all, “Forget it. I did.” And she is all “I don’t believe you, let’s make this work.” Of course he thinks she’s slumming it…STILL. He makes her cry and run off…will these two ever get it together?
Once again a romance novel has provided me with life lessons. The main one was delivered by Dominique’s brother Rafe (what the hell kind of name is that?) who says, “Although we love to have a woman come on to us, we still like to feel like we’re in the driver’s seat.” This is counterintuitive to the belief system of the single, smart, independent, (insert your adjective here) woman. Are they wise words? Is this sage advice? Is this what the author truly believes? Is this what she is suggesting women do to land a man? Is that how you married ladies landed yours? We have to juggle so many ideals and ideas as women, it’s exhausting! Why can’t she just go for it? She told the dude she likes him and wants to be with him and she is punished for it because she didn’t wait for him to do it first. For Christmas sake! she could have been waiting for YEARS! What a jerk Trevor is. An allegedly hot (we don’t know what she looks like), nice, smart, independent, who runs a non-profit business helping abused women wants to be your girlfriend! What a bitch! If you didn’t look like Idris Elba, I would be super pissed at you!!!!
Luckily Dominique didn’t have to wait long, really just after she gets off the phone with her bro. Trevor apologizes, they make out and then he lays down the no fraternization at work rule (cause that made sense) and the I will pay for the fancy meals rule. She let him drive I guess. Now they are happy and starting their dating lives together until…Vallyn!!!
She drops a bomb on Trevor that he’s the father of her baby who is now five. She wants him to be in her life now. Of course this is just the worst timing of all. What about Dominique? How can he tell her this? Will she understand? Will she leave? Is this baby even his? Well, it’s just not a modern brown story without a baby mama or daddy I guess. Could there be nothing else to leverage for melodramatic tension? Like how about the wrong side of the tracks angle?
At this point, Dominique finds out the truth from her spinster aunt who is a famous photojournalist. No sure of this lady’s story line but she is estranged from the family for reasons unknown and may have cancer because she was coming out of a medical building…who knows?!
Dominique runs to her best friend and has a cry and a chat, then drives off in a rain storm to confront Trevor who by this time knows she knows and is kicking himself for not telling her upfront. They chat about it and once he tells his story, all is forgiven and they make love (no music due to a power outage). They also profess their love for one another, blah, blah, blah.
The aunt does more investigative work and provides Trevor with more details about his baby mama. Shockingly, another secret is revealed Maury style. Trevor is NOT the father. Vallyn made the wrong choices and got knocked up and kicked out of her family. Poor and with a toddler to feed she tried to pull a scam on Trevor because she figured he was still the sucker she jilted years ago. The “crack” photojournalist aunt had a birth certificate and everything! This lady is like the Fox News of photojournalism.
Trevor confronts Vallyn in a seriously anti-climactic way. His only concern was for the poor kid who is saddled with this grifter of a mother. Which was nice.
There’s an epilogue in this one cause soooo much happened the week before. Basically, a trust is set up for Vallyn’s daughter by Trevor and Dominique. She’s only got 13 years before she can touch it. Cheers to the formative years with Mother of the Year!
The biggest surprise is Dominique is not going to be a single lady for long. She and Trevor end up happy and in love forever cause this is a romance novel damn it.
Life Lessons According to Trevor: Mixing business with pleasure isn’t so risky after all.
So get frisky and risky at work people!
This book was the third in a series about the Lawson family. Unfortunately, you may have to read the first two books to get back stories and physically description of the major characters. I found the tempo of Sultry Nights to be better than Waking Up Married. I thought there were more conversations between characters which helped with pacing. There were detailed descriptions of just about everything except for Dominique and her family. Of course I was happy about Trevor being an Idris Elba clone, that was all the description I needed :-).
It was a quick read, well written, there were some eye-rolling moments which is to be expected as it is a romance novel, there were some thought-provoking moments and “pearls” of wisdom. I liked the added musical component. It would have been great to have a sentence or two of back story and physical descriptions of legacy characters for those of us reading out of sequence.
Rating: 2 out of 5 trashy roses
Wish me luck in Nawlins ya’ll! Watch my new boyfriend (it’s not crazy cause Dominique put it out into the universe and look what happened to her) in Luther!
My Sultry Nights Review Writing Playlist:
- My Love – Jill Scott
- Drunk in Love – Beyonce
- Like a Star – Corinne Bailey Rae
- Crush – Dave Matthews Band
- In the Morning – Ledisi
- Pretty Wings – Maxwell
- Strong – London Grammar
- XO – Beyonce
- Halfcrazy – Musiq Soulchild
- Wait for you – Elliott Yamin
- Bad Habits – Maxwell
- Sobeautiful – Musiq