Back to Your Love
In this second-chance romance, former lovers Imani and Xavier meet by chance at a wedding and pick up right where they left off. This begs questions about why they broke up in the first place, and what is different this time around. The answer to the first made me a combination of furious and annoyed and the answer to the second didn’t make up for it, so I can’t recommend Back to Your Love.
Imani’s life is fantastic. Beautiful, hardworking, brilliant, and now the owner of her own dermatology practice, the only thing that is missing is her own fella. A bit tired of always being the bridesmaid and never the bride (both literally and figuratively), the opening chapters tell us that she’s more weary of her relationship status than anxious about it.
Xavier’s life is also perfect. He’s kind, handsome, hardworking, and a CPA who also volunteers at youth centers on the side. Imani is the great love of his life, but he’s never done anything to track her down after they split before college. When they’re the maid of honor and best man at the same wedding, the chemistry sizzles immediately and things between them quickly return to how they were before they parted.
There are three main reasons why this book didn’t jive with me. The biggest is the treatment of the second-chance romance, which I’ll return to that in a minute. The second is that the writing just made it difficult for me to connect with anything that was happening. (The sex scenes, in particular, had a few phrases I’m assuming were supposed to turn me on that instead made me cackle with laughter.) The final one is that the plotting and structure is a lot more exposition and ‘telling’ rather than showing. The whole book suffers from the pilot syndrome for a TV show. I learned so much about everything and every character so quickly, that I felt overwhelmed and couldn’t connect with anyone.
Back to the romance. One of the reasons I love the second-chance at love trope is that I’m fascinated by how people grow and change over time. The reason you broke up was true and valid – or perhaps complete crap – at the time, but all of that could be different now. You’re two new people with the same past and how do you address all of that? I mean, y’all, that is my catnip. What happens in this book is that two people who broke up ages ago – and who, despite having overlapping social circles – have never spoken since, fall right back into a relationship. It all just felt… off.
Additionally, and this is a little spoiler-y, we keep getting hints of Imani’s “shameful” past or that she did something to cause the original break up. I couldn’t really tell if the shame was pre or post break up for most of the book, and when it was all finally revealed I was not super pleased. So, trigger warnings for rape, assault, and gaslighting and I’ll leave it at that.
The above revelation led to a massive fight that was never really resolved, or was certainly not resolved in a way that I felt laid a foundation for this couple’s happily ever after. In my notes, I wrote: So, they have a massive fight that tears them asunder, the underlying issues are never addressed, they have mind blowing sex and live happily ever after? Nope. Not for me.
Romancelandia is a huge tent and we have room for many at our party, so I’m positive there are folks out there that might like Back to Your Love. I hope you’re bothered by the gaslighting, but nonetheless, you may enjoy it. The camaraderie between the fraternity brothers was fun, and could produce lovely future stories..