Wednesday, May 15, 2019

#TBRChallenge 2019: Passion's Song

The Book: Passion's Song by Farrah Rochon

The Particulars: Contemporary romance, Kimani Romance #461, 2016, out of print, available in digital.

Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?: I had a print copy, which means I must have picked it up at a conference since I went digital with Harelquin ages ago. But my copy wasn't autographed and my personal notes on where I got this were lacking. Best guess? It was sitting in the Goody Room at some past RWA conference.

The Review: On Friday it dawned on me that the TBR Challenge deadline was Wednesday and do you think I had started a book, let alone picked one out?  Ha ha ha ha! It is to laugh.  Given the short timeline I knew I had to go with a category romance, pulled this book out of the depths, liked the sound of the back cover blurb, and I've got at least 2 other print books by Rochon in a pile, plus a few ebooks - so I'd stay on theme! Boy, did I hit the jackpot!  This wasn't a keeper for me, but it hit a lot of my sweet spots and I sailed through it in less than a day.

April Knight grew up in New Orleans' Ninth Ward, became a celebrated cellist and traveled the world.  But, she's ready for less travel, to place firmer roots, so moving back home, post-Katrina, is what she does. She's determined to help rebuild the city by reaching out to kids just like her.  She still works in music, but she spends a lot of time volunteering at A Fresh Start - a summer program designed to keep kids off the streets and out of trouble.  Her and the other volunteers are always scrambling for funding and want to find the resources to offer the program year-round.  They're losing too many kids.  And that's when opportunity knocks on April's door.

Damien Alexander grew up in the Ninth Ward just like April, and while he still lives in New Orleans, the old neighborhood doesn't hold many happy memories.  He got out thanks to a football scholarship and his friendship with April.  In high school they were best friends and she tutored him so he'd pass English.  He's now a big shot construction guy and was just named one of the city's most eligible bachelors.  He has plans for a piece of property he just bought in the Ninth Ward, but for what he envisions he needs funding.  To get the funding he needs to attend some high roller events among the city's elite.  And for that? He needs arm candy.  Someone who can run interference thanks to the whole "eligible bachelor" thing and someone sophisticated, charming, cultured...someone just like April.  Plus, they're old friends! No distractions for his libido! It's the perfect solution! (Poor, dumb dumb hero man - will these guys never learn?).

April had a crush on Damien for years and while slightly insulted with his proposal, she's nobody's fool. She sees an opportunity when one presents itself.  She'll be Damien's arm candy and in exchange he'll teach a class in money management at A Fresh Start to help round out their offerings and make them look even better on their grant application.  Damien isn't wild about spending so much time in the old neighborhood but he knows he's been bested.  A bargain is struck.

Two of my favorite tropes are in this story: Friends To Lovers and Pretend Relationship.  I couldn't believe my luck when I happened to pull this book blindly out of my TBR!  It's also a book with an excellent community feel to it.  Look, I know a fair share of readers who like to bag on small town contemporary romances.  I'm not a huge fan of them in single title, but I understand the appeal.  What Rochon has done is given readers a "community-based" romance in a big city.  New Orleans, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles - these are all cities with "neighborhoods" and Rochon is highlighting a slice of New Orleans by setting her story in the Ninth Ward.  The wonderful sense of place gives the romance a very strong backdrop on which to build.

The romance itself is fairly low-key.  It's largely character driven, with Damien having baggage regarding the old neighborhood and his plans for the land he's purchased are straight-up gentrification.  When April finds out the details, she has definite strong opinions and Damien finds himself re-evaluating.  Is this truly what he thinks is best for the Ninth Ward, or is he letting his past cloud his judgment?

Given the friendship between April and Damien there's a tenderness to the romance I enjoyed, the sex scene hit all the right emotional beats, and I felt immersed in the world, the neighborhood, that Rochon created.  It's a well-crafted, well-executed short contemporary and I'm obviously an idiot for letting this book languish for as long as it did.  I need to go back to the pile and unearth my other collected Rochon books...

Final Grade = B


Dorine said...

I've wondered about Rochon's books for a while. Glad you enjoyed it. I realized on Friday I didn't have mine done either, but I was traveling so I had to bail this month. Summer is hard on my getting anything done in a timely matter. I'll try to do better in the coming months. :)

Wendy said...

Dorine: Summer is hard for me too! It's my busiest time of year at The Day Job and July is "conference season." I finished this month by the skin of my teeth, and only because I picked up a book that I literally gulped down in one sitting.