REVIEW: The Shoe Diaries by Darby Baham
It’s never too late to put your best foot forward
From the outside, Reagan “Rae” Doucet has it all: a coveted career in Washington, DC, a tight circle of friends and a shoe closet to die for. When one of her crew falls ill, however, Rae is done playing it safe. The talented but unfulfilled writer makes a “risk list” to revamp her life. But forgiving her ex, Jake Saunders, might be one risk too many…
Dear Ms. Baham,
I fell in love with this cover which, now that I’ve finished the book, truly shows the reader what they’re going to get. The story focuses more on Reagan and her friends plus Reagan’s efforts to take more risks in life. Then there are the shoes that she lives for and which are always mentioned in any scene. As for the romance, it’s not what I expected from a Harlequin and not what the blurb led me to believe I’d get.
Reagan Doucet and her long time girlfriends arrive at the wedding of mutual friends where Rea sees her old college love. Things ended badly then but when Jake approaches her, the old good feelings come flooding back. After a hot night together, Rae reads some texts on Jake’s phone that makes her believe that he only sees her as a booty call leading her to quietly walk out.
This is only one aspect of Rae’s life that she’s not happy about. After four years, her job in journalism isn’t challenging and her older, more conservative boss shows no signs of allowing her the freedom to write the political pieces she longs to do. A close friend is experiencing health issues and urges Rae to live large since you don’t know what’s coming in life or how much of life you’ll have. And despite her disastrous run-in with Jake, Rae hasn’t given up on romance and wants to be strong enough to open herself to the chance of love. After making a list – with the reward of a new pair of shoes for each item she can check off, will Rae be able to change her life around?
This really is more of a self discovery, women’s fiction than romance. Over the course of the book, we see three men in Rae’s life – none of whom I wanted her with. One is a shitty old boyfriend from college who cheated on her. I totally approved of how she publicly shot him down when he tried to explain her life to her. Another seemed too good to be true and the last I never liked as he acted like an ass in almost every scene including when he blamed Rae for how he acted. “Bag of dicks” is too kind to express my opinion of him based on what we’re shown in the scenes with him. Rae does end up restarting a relationship with one of them at the end of the book but (yes!) lays it out that they’ve both changed, she’s grown stronger, and they’re starting over. When a book ends and I’m not thrilled that one character is with another, nope it’s not a romance book.
What I did like is how we are shown Rae’s challenges as a Black professional woman, some flashback scenes of Rae and her longtime friends at their HBCU (Howard University), that they view themselves and their bodies positively, and that Rae puts herself out there in life and takes some chances. She does some things that are challenging but stays true to what she wants and seems to be on her way to getting them. Her friends are obviously being set up to have their own books but in this book, they have roles to play and are not just two dimensional place cards. But though I enjoy looking at pretty shoes as much as the next person, there was just a bit too much of them and if the book had ended with Rae and her girls toasting each other with champagne while dancing to their 90s RnB list, I would have been perfectly happy. I’m going to average my grade for the romance and the women’s fiction at a C+