Things Hoped For
After over a decade putting in the work, Xeno Cooper, queen of the Houston rap scene, becomes an ‘overnight’ success when a major rapper highlights her work in an interview. She’d have it all – if she could just find the right woman to share it with. A chance backstage meeting with masseuse Trisha Martin, who recently moved to Houston from Arkansas, could be the magic moment they’re both looking for.
There isn’t really a lot of conflict in this book (which, at 124 pages, is more like a novella). Xeno and Trisha are attracted from the start, and the plot is them gradually drawing closer, like normal people in a normal, non-novel plot conflict. And you know what? I liked it. They’re both appealing characters. I liked Xeno’s brash confidence and I understood Trisha’s concerns about dating a woman on the brink of major national success. The story doesn’t build a lot of tension this way, but it feels like following along with the courtship story of a couple of friends. (It was also delightful to read a book where the name-dropped shoes are Concords, not Choos).
Trisha’s a nice lady, but this is definitely Xeno’s book. The author effectively demonstrates what makes Xeno a success: her years of practice, her charismatic shows, the guidance of an OG rapper uncle who encourages her to invest in her own equipment. We only get one example of Xeno’s lyrics, though, which I thought was too bad – she’s described as clever and quick with her words, and I would have liked to have had something more to substantiate it.
One complaint – this book is a spin-off from the author’s Vow series, and there are just too many characters here. For the first chapter, as Trisha relocates to Houston from Little Rock, the names became a blur and I gave up, figuring I’d find out in the next few chapters which of those people actually mattered. Many never recurred. The book is too short (and, at $4.99 for 124 pages, too expensive!) to burn word count this way.
In terms of sensuality, this book sits on the border between warm and hot. I would say that if you’re someone who judges by the acts that occur, it will be warm; if you’re someone who judges by explicit language, it will definitely be hot.
Things Hoped For is a solid read for an evening. The best part is that Higgins is a prolific writer, so if this clicks with you, you’ll have a substantial backlist to dig into.