skygiants: Clopin from Notre-Dame de Paris; text 'sans misere, sans frontiere' (comment faire un monde)
[personal profile] skygiants
The Brightest Day: A Juneteenth Historical Romance Anthology is a collection of romance novellas by black authors focusing on celebrations commemorating the end of slavery, and it is 150% - nay, 200% - worth it for Alyssa Cole's "Let It Shine," which is now certainly in my top five and maybe in my top two romance novellas.

...this doesn't actually feel like saying that much because I tend to find romance novellas less satisfying and convincing than full-length novels overall, but "Let It Shine" is so good! The heroine, Sofie, is a black girl on the verge of joining the local chapter of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee; the hero, Ivan, is a Jewish kid whose family Sofie's mom used to work for, who trains at the local black boxing gym because the white country club won't have him, and joins the Civil Rights movement to share his training in how to take a hit.

Sofie falls into one of my favorite tropes -- the quiet, well-behaved girl whose self-control and steel spine are greater strengths than anyone around her realizes -- and the story also falls into one of my favorite romantic tropes, which is when two people fall in love working towards something that they put ahead of themselves and their romance. The novella is also really effective at building its heroic character moments around participatory movements and strategic nonviolence, which despite its historic importance is something I feel like I rarely see portrayed in fiction (especially romance, a genre in which "impulse control" is ... an infrequently valorized virtue .....)

Also, there is a sexy boxing ring scene and it's very good.

The other three novellas in the anthology didn't work for me as well, although "Let It Shine" is so good that it's not really fair to compare. My second favorite was probably Kianna Alexander's "Drifting to You," which is just a very cute, relatively unstressful story about a baker and a shipbuilder getting together on a celebratory Juneteenth cruise in 1875 that is a Professional Milestone for both of them as former slaves trying to establish businesses in the free black community. I was very concerned that the narrative tension was going to involve something going wrong with either the cake or the boat and imperil their Professional Careers, so it was a relief that the only actual plot features a cardboard villain who pops briefly up to harass the heroine and is put down again within three pages.

Lena Hart's "Amazing Grace" is about a former slave who goes out west as a mail-order bride and then falls in love with a former Confederate soldier instead, which would be a hard sell for me in almost any circumstance. I liked the heroine of Piper Huguley's "A Sweet Way to Freedom" a lot -- she's an unmarried, pregnant schoolteacher in 1910 wrestling with the damage to her reputation and her pride if she goes home to her family for support -- but I did not like the hero, the bar owner who got her pregnant and then bounced, and I think I would have needed a full book to believe in his reformation, which frequently is my problem with novellas.

Anyway! Alyssa Cole! "Let It Shine!" ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT, will be seeking out more of her stuff.

Date: 2017-07-31 07:21 pm (UTC)
cinaed:  Superstitions are habits rather than beliefs. (Marlene Dietrich)
From: [personal profile] cinaed
Haha I was like Alyssa Cole, Alyssa Cole, that name sounds SO familiar, and then I realized it's because I've been on the hold list FOREVER for her Civil War spy romance novel, An Extraordinary Union:

Elle Burns is a former slave with a passion for justice and an eidetic memory. Trading in her life of freedom in Massachusetts, she returns to the indignity of slavery in the South—to spy for the Union Army.

Malcolm McCall is a detective for Pinkerton's Secret Service. Subterfuge is his calling, but he's facing his deadliest mission yet—risking his life to infiltrate a Rebel enclave in Virginia.

Two undercover agents who share a common cause—and an undeniable attraction—Malcolm and Elle join forces when they discover a plot that could turn the tide of the war in the Confederacy's favor.


I might have to check out that anthology just for her!

Date: 2017-07-31 07:32 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Viktor & Mordecai)
From: [personal profile] sovay
Anyway! Alyssa Cole! "Let It Shine!" ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT, will be seeking out more of her stuff.

You've sold me on the novella! It sounds great. Maybe it will end up collected with more of the author's work.

Lena Hart's "Amazing Grace" is about a freed slave who goes out west as a mail-order bride and then falls in love with a former Confederate soldier instead, which would be a hard sell for me in almost any circumstance.

Does . . . any of that work?

Date: 2017-08-01 04:05 am (UTC)
minutia_r: (Default)
From: [personal profile] minutia_r
So I was just looking into it and apparently a) you can buy the ebook on amazon without the rest of the anthology but most critically b) it also seems to contain another short story with those characters? As far as I can tell?

Date: 2017-08-01 12:35 pm (UTC)
themadpoker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] themadpoker
It has an additional epilogue! I bought it after buying the Juneteenth anthology because I really wanted to have it in print. It's definitely worth getting on it's own if you don't want the other stories.

Date: 2017-07-31 09:28 pm (UTC)
lucifuge5: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lucifuge5
My reaction while reading to Let It Shine can be summed up as <3_____<3

I fell for Alyssa's writing right there and quickly picked up Let Us Dream (a cabaret owner and a chef fall for each other in 1917's NY.) Have also bought An Extraordinary Union (because competence + SPIES).

Basically, there's something about Alyssa's books that are super enjoyable and happy-making. ^___^

Date: 2017-08-01 03:36 pm (UTC)
lucifuge5: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lucifuge5
Oh, and she's also published a short story that I DEVOURED:

Agnes Moor knows her place in the court of King James IV—as one of the “exotics” in his employ. When the king makes a kiss from Agnes the prize of a tourney, a mysterious knight plows through his opponents to claim it. But it isn’t chance. The Wild Knight has come for her, and her champion is after after the most elusive prize of all: her heart.

Be forewarned that it is only 38 pages BUT they're totes [insert thumbs' up emoji].

ETA: the premise sounds creepy AF. HOWEVER, Agnes has TONS of agency.
Edited (Had to clarify something...) Date: 2017-08-01 03:49 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-08-01 04:53 am (UTC)
thistleingrey: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thistleingrey
I think I have something else by Alyssa Cole in the virtual (epub) tbr pile. Glad to know that "Let It Shine" is good!

to share his training in how to take a hit

alas (but we also need these stories)

Date: 2017-08-02 11:53 am (UTC)
pegasuswrites: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pegasuswrites
Sofie falls into one of my favorite tropes -- the quiet, well-behaved girl whose self-control and steel spine are greater strengths than anyone around her realizes I love this trope too! Let It Shine sounds amazing - it's definitely going on my to-read list.

Profile

skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (Default)
skygiants

August 2017

S M T W T F S
  12345
6 78 9 1011 12
131415 16171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Aug. 19th, 2017 08:32 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios