The Art of Love
The Art of Love is the fourth book in the series Decades: A Journey of African-American Romance. If you haven’t yet heard of the project, jump over to our blog and check it out. Each story takes place in one decade of the twentieth century, and in The Art of Love, it’s time for the 1930s.
Our story takes place in San Francisco and follows Chase Jenkins, rum runner and delivery man, and Ava Lydell, jazz-loving artist, as they first meet, fall in lust, and fall in love. Ava is trying to make it as an independent black artist, but doesn’t have the sales to keep her studio up and running. Trying to get showings in galleries has proved a futile endeavor, unless she wants to be the nameless, faceless artist the gallery owners say they can sell. It’s a lot harder, of course, to sell paintings by a black woman. Of course. Chase is immediately struck by Ava’s fire and determination, but he’s in the middle of a mess of his own.
As a bootlegger in the middle of Prohibition, Chase is going to be nothing but trouble. Ava keeps pushing him away, but he refuses to take no for an answer. On top of the things Ava already knows about, Chase is also on the hunt for the man who murdered his baby brother, while running illegal alcohol, and protecting the remainder of his family any way he can.
Chase is… not a nice guy. He’s definitely a strong, determined character, who works his backside off for what he wants, but he also completely disregards Ava’s wishes and pushes his way into her life, all because he knows she’s attracted to him as he is to her. I don’t know how many times I will have to say this, but ‘I know you want me’ is not a reason to force someone else into a relationship. At all. Ever. As I finished the story, I felt like Chase was slowly stripping Ava of her independence, which is the very thing about her that attracted him in the first place. It’s as though he wants her to be completely dependent on him. Oh, but she can keep doing her art, so it’s fine. It’s fine. Really. It’s fine.
While the story was interesting, it wasn’t something I could really get into. I had a hard time liking the hero, spent far too much time wanting the heroine to get herself free and out of there, and caught myself guessing the plot twists before they arrived. That said, the plot was good, the setting was different, and I loved the all-PoC cast. In the end, The Art of Love just wasn’t for me, although it’s a decent read. I guess I was just hoping for a spectacular one.