The Art of Love is Suzette Harrison’s contribution to the Decades: A Journey of African-American Romance project. For readers who may be unfamiliar with “Decades”, the series consists of 12 books, each set in one of 12 decades between 1900 and 2010. Each story focuses on the romance between African American protagonists, but also embraces the African American experience within that decade.
Set in the 1930s, The Art of Love is the story of Ava Lydell, a struggling artist who migrates from the Deep South to California in pursuit of her dreams. Unfortunately for Ava (and the rest of the nation), the 1929 Stock Market Crash leads to widespread devastation known as The Great Depression. As if the struggle to become a notable “Negro” artist wasn’t challenging enough, the country’s economic crisis makes it virtually impossible for Ava to secure a living. Ava finds herself faced with financial ruin and the decimation of her dreams until a chance encounter lands her face-to-face with the slightly younger Chase Jenkins whose occupation is a bit too dangerous for Ava’s taste.
Not only is the country reeling from The Depression, but Prohibition makes liquor illegal. Calling Prohibition “one of the best things to happen to an enterprising Colored man,” Chase Jenkins is a savvy, successful bootlegger who’s managed to thrive in intolerant times. But he’s focused on finding his brother’s killer and has no time for love and romance. Coming to the aid of a beautiful stranger, he finds himself unquestionably snared by Ava. But can he win the heart of a woman who wants no part of his questionable lifestyle?
The Art of Love is a spicy novella showcasing the risky romance between a struggling artist and an astute businessman whose business is less than legal. It’s a story of taking chances without a guaranteed outcome.
When asked what her inspiration to write the story was, Ms. Harrison, said:
“Being a part of the “Decades” series and this unique collaborative celebrating African American love was a blessing I couldn’t decline. It’s history in the making. And being able to step back in time to celebrate Black Love was an opportunity I couldn’t resist.
The Art of Love isn’t my first foray into historical fiction/romance. I took that virgin voyage with my award-winning novel, Taffy. Writing The Art of Love provided another chance to visit and imagine our collective past.
In discussing books with others, at times I’m left with the impression that we view love and romance as a contemporary construct. As if our parents, grandparents, and the generations before knew nothing about how the heart throbs. As if their experiences were archaic and built solely on obligation and procreating merely for posterity’s sake. Honey, please! We wouldn’t be here if our forebears were clueless to loving. Certainly, our ancestors’ days may have been too filled with the sweat of survival to include nights of wine and roses. Yet, they made their own unique way. Love still happened. I view The Art of Love as a tribute and way to honor the ancestors. It’s a song of praise and tribute to love that survived every collective and individual atrocity our placement in this nation ever unleashed.”