REVIEW: Guess Who’s Coming to Karamu by Cy Blanca
Before we get started, let me say that this short story is released by Dreamspinner Press. In lieu of buying it, another (perfectly legal and legitimate) way to read it is by seeing if your local library carries it. If they don’t, then check to see if your library subscribes to the Hoopla service which is how I borrowed it and read it.
Grant Cary, a twenty-eight-year-old grad student, has let his Kwanzaa shopping go to the very last minute. In his rush to get home, he quite literally bumps into Will Sheritan, a fortysomething software developer, in the elevator. But luck favors (or curses) the adventurous, because their elevator shuts down due to a blackout. Grant and Will learn about each other’s pasts and find more than just a casual interest.
Will has never celebrated Kwanzaa, and he’s reluctant to enter into a relationship, but exploring a new tradition—with a new friend—might brighten his lonely holiday. And if Will accepts Grant’s invitation to join his family for the Karamu feast, Grant might get his Imani gift early.
Dear Ms. Blanca,
Finding Kwanzaa romance stories isn’t easy. There are many books on how to celebrate the holiday with most seeming to be geared towards children. But books with a sexual/romantic spark? Not too many I’ve been able to track down. Then I saw this cover and title and said, “Aha! Now we’re talking.”
Grant Cary (his parents are romantics) has left his shopping until the last minute though he knows, yeah yeah yeah, he promised himself he’d get it done early this year. Even though he knows he faces some Baptist relatives unhappy with his presence at the festivities, he’ll be there with gifts as it’s the only way to see some of his cousins. After waiting to try and get his purchases gift wrapped, the crappy mall lets him down by having even crappier electrical wiring. When a glitch shorts everything out, the elevator he managed to reach is stuck. Can he make conversation with the Elevator God (who looks as if he “skipped puberty and took a direct route to sexy on a freight train”) until the maintenance idiots get them out?
This might be more a short story than a novella but it packs a lot into a short amount of space. Everything is told from Grant’s POV and I enjoyed getting in his head and going along for the unfiltered ride. The man knows how to give his badass cat a seriously badass name and I’ll be honest, anyone in a book who has a pet cat goes way up in my estimation.
Grant and Will chat a bit, flirt a bit, get into some serious shit – past boyfriend, dead husband, disapproving relatives – before the power finally comes on. Along the way they get to know each other some, realize they want to know each other more, plus Will and I learn a bit about Kwanzaa. I also laugh at Grant’s quick internal wit and funny way with a phrase. B