At Least We Were Electrified

I owe chick lit an apology. Too often this year, I’ve used the genre as a clutch and as an escape. Read something sad? Life and the world are blowing up? No worries; let’s check in with chick lit for a pick-me-up. It will surely turn things around. How did one of my favorite genres become my sidepiece when the going got tough?

Such an amazing genre deserves better, so to end 2020, I decided to make chick lit my main squeeze, starting with Paris for One. By the time I finished it, I knew I had to continue on my Tour de Fun with these light-hearted and entertaining novels by turning to one of the best in the genre: Jasmine Guillory.

I first met Guillory’s writing in the summer of 2019 with her five-flame second book, The Proposal, which is actually the second of five very loosely connected books that Guillory has written. The Proposal was so much fun, made me laugh, and made my mouth salivate with all of its delicious food scenes. Not to mention the characters and their arcs had some serious depth and dealt with real-life issues rather than just romantic clichés. Oh, and it’s full of diversity. If it sounds like Guillory’s books have it all, that’s because they do, which was proven once again in her debut, The Wedding Date. And yes, somehow things got even spicier with this one.

“Just because their standards are low does not mean that we should lower ours.”

The WEdding date

If you could be stuck on an elevator with someone of your sexual preference(s), who would it be?

Michael B. Jordan. (Click the link; you won’t be disappointed.) No questions asked. And don’t deny it; we’ve all thought about this before.

That’s exactly what happens to Drew Nichols and Alexa Monroe in San Francisco. A hot, intelligent white doctor in L.A., Drew’s in town for the wedding between one of his best friends and … his ex-girlfriend. He’s completely dreading the awkward wedding as a newly single bachelor with no plus-one when he gets stuck in his hotel elevator with a beautiful stranger. She just happens to have fantastic cleavage, cheese and crackers in her purse, and a good personality.

Alexa Monroe, a 30-something Black professional who lives in Berkeley, is enjoying being stuck in an elevator with Drew. I mean he is fine and totally checking her out, though trying to not make it so obvious, which eliminates any creep factor. When they finally depart the elevator, she’s completely surprised when Drew asks if she’ll be his fake date for his best friend’s wedding. She’s also completely surprised when she says yes. Why not enjoy a spontaneous weekend with a hunk whom she’ll never see again?

Except they can’t stop thinking about each other after the wedding nor after the 24 hours of hot sex and fun conversation end. They live on opposite sides of a very large state, though; this could never work. Their attraction toward each another, however, pushes them to explore at least the sexual possibilities all while trying to deny their blossoming feelings.

I mention both Alexa’s and Drew’s races in the synopsis because just like with The Proposal, race plays a key role here, which really elevates Guillory’s novels from pure entertainment. Alexa and Drew’s relationship has depth and so do their individual lives and character arcs. I love that Guillory manages to explore the issue of race, especially in a relationship and in an interracial one at that, and the challenges that could arise from it.

This is the kind of diversity and nuance that chick lit needs, and the lack of it is often the one flaw I find in the genre. Probably because non-white authors don’t receive much-needed recognition in the genre, it typically features white women with shallow problems. That’s not the case with Guillory’s books. She gives us every bit of fun and entertainment that other chick lit novels have, but she tops it with characters whose experiences and hardships should be highlighted more in the genre.

“White men hated it when you reminded them of their privilege, she knew that all too well.”

The Wedding Date

Additionally, she creates characters who have lives outside of the main relationship at play. They always have real jobs, goals, and actual nights out with their best friends. Sure, they are emotionally consumed by their fledgling romantic relationships, but there’s more to their lives than just that. While this applies to both the male and female characters, it’s especially refreshing to see women whose lives don’t revolve around men.

Take Alexa for example. A former lawyer, she now works as the chief of staff for the mayor of Berkeley and aspires to push through programs that she finds meaningful, particularly an arts program for at-risk youth. Her aspirations stem from a once-problematic relationship with her sister and from experiencing racism in her childhood and in her profession. Guillory writes many scenes with Alexa hard at work, expressing her goals, and also with her best friends. Furthermore, she’s a curvy woman who experiences the same self-doubt and self-consciousness that all women do. Alexa’s characteristics go much deeper than just her feelings for the male lead — who greatly admires her wit and intelligence.

Speaking of men, Guillory writes from both Alexa’s and Drew’s perspectives. I enjoyed reading how both characters had similar thoughts and feelings but refused to see that the other felt the same. The perspective changes move the novel at a fun and fast pace and create a constant tension. And yes, sometimes that tension is between you and the characters because WHY CAN’T THEY JUST SEE WHAT’S IN FRONT OF THEM??

More often than not, delicious food is in front of them as well. Guillory’s characters love food, and I love that they love food. Nothing bonds two people together like a shared passion for provisions, and nothing bonds a reader to a book like salivating food scenes … or salivating sex scenes, of which there are MANY in The Wedding Date.

As Kirkus Reviews describes it:

“Guillory’s debut is a mix of romance and raunch that will charm rom-com fans.”

Kirkus Reviews

The raunch is thankfully real.

Caution: Do not read in public. But definitely, definitely read. Your heart, soul, and libido will thank you.

“Does cookie dough ice cream go better with red or white wine?”

A valid question from The wEdding date

3 thoughts on “At Least We Were Electrified

  1. Pingback: Secret Moments in a Crowded Room | Big Little Literature

  2. Pingback: 2020 Resolution Review | Big Little Literature

  3. Pingback: Ranked: Reads in 2020 | Big Little Literature

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