Ties That Tether was a delight of a book. This is one of those romances where the conflict is all too real, the lead characters have to grow and work toward that happily ever after, and the reader will want to root for them all the way.
A chance meeting between Azere, a Nigerian-Canadian woman, and Rafael, a white man of Spanish descent, in a hotel bar changes both of their lives forever. Azere’s family immigrated to Canada when she was about twelve, and at her mother’s insistence, Azere has dated firmly within her own culture. She promised her father on his deathbed that she would marry another Nigerian and her mother’s frequent reminders of that promise have kept that in her mind.
However, there is just something about Rafael. Rafael and Azere spend an unforgettable night together. Needless to say, Azere is left with conflicting feelings, which intensify when she discovers that Rafael has been hired by her advertising agency. What ensues is a wonderful mix of light moments and family drama.
Rafael clearly has feelings for Azere, and the tension between them at work is very well-written. There are plenty of scenes between the couple, but we also see Azere with her family and this helps readers really understand her internal conflict. On the one hand, Azere has growing feelings for Rafael, but on the other, she is very clearly still thinking her way through questions of her own identity. As Azere ponders how she fits into the world, what it means to preserve her culture and so on, we see her growing as a person.
There is a wonderful scene in the book where Azere has a meal with Rafael’s family and topics related to his family’s own Spanish traditions come up. We see Azere working through what this would mean to her and how to keep her own Nigerian identity from being subsumed. I’ve read quite a few romance novels that talk about romance between people of different cultures, but rarely one that explores it at this level.
I did have a few quibbles with the book. For example, it’s clear near the beginning that Rafael has been through some traumatic event and that whatever this is, it affects his budding relationship with Azere. Knowing this, I felt like the author waited way too long for the Big Reveal about what happened, and since the discussion of it occurs so late in the book, I felt like the couple did not have nearly enough time to deal with both (1) the event itself and (2) how Rafael hiding it for so long affected the relationship.
However, even with this issue, I very much enjoyed Ties That Tether. I kind of lost of my drive to keep reading this fall, but this book helped me get it back. I got so swept into this story that I read it in one weekend. For my slow-reading self, that’s pretty amazing.
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