Book Review: Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

Real Men Knit is the first book I’ve read by Kwana Jackson, who also writes romances under the name of K.M Jackson. I definitely need to get my hands on her Sugar Lake series, as it sounds like it is right up my alley as well. If you’re a fan of contemporary romance, this slow burn romance set in a knitting shop in Harlem may be just the book you need for a quick escape or beach read.

Disclosure: I received an advance copy of the book from Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.  All opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links.

Synopsis

Book Review: Real Men Knit by Kwana JacksonReal Men Knit by Kwana Jackson
Published by Penguin on May 19, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Multicultural & Interracial, Women
Pages: 336
Buy on Amazon
Buy from your local independent bookstore via IndieBound
Goodreads

When their foster-turned-adoptive mother suddenly dies, four brothers struggle to keep open the doors of her beloved Harlem knitting shop.

Jesse Strong is known for two things: his devotion to his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, and his reputation for breaking hearts. When Mama Joy unexpectedly passes away, he and his brothers have different plans for what to do with Strong Knits, their neighborhood knitting store. Jesse wants to keep the store open. His brothers want to tie off loose ends and close shop....

Part-time shop employee Kerry Fuller has kept her crush on Jesse a secret. When she overhears his impassioned plea to his brothers to keep the knitting shop open, she volunteers to help. Unlike Jesse, Kerry knows the "knitty-gritty" of the business, and together they make plans to reinvent Strong Knits for a new generation.
But the more time they spend together, the stronger the chemistry builds between them. Kerry, knowing Jesse's history, doesn't believe their relationship can last longer than she can knit one, purl two. But Jesse is determined to prove to her that he can be the man for her forever and always. After all, real men knit.

three-half-stars

My Thoughts

I’m not a knitter, although I’d like to be (but I’m all thumbs. I’m not a crocheter, either, despite my Grans attempts.) I think that’s why I’m always drawn to stories set in knitting shops – that, and because as Kerry Fuller tells young knitter Errol:

‘In knitting there’s never a problem that can’t be fixed’

Real Men Knit is told through two points-of-view – Jesse Strong, son of the owner Mama Strong (who has recently passed away) and Kerry Fuller, who has practically grown up in the knitting shop (Mama Strong was a bit of a second mother to her) and now works there part-time.

The story starts out slowly. The first part of the book really builds the background story for both characters, and at times is a bit more “tell” than “show”. I’m kind of ok with the slow build, as I fell in love with the shop and the setting, and all the brothers. (I’m hoping all this groundwork was laid out because the other three are getting their own stories.)

This story is part romance, part contemporary women’s fiction – and I’d say it is a little lighter on the romance side than I would have liked. The romance is a sloooooow burn. Author Jackson does a great job building tension between the two (maybe too much, because at some points I just wanted to smack some sense into both of them.) It’s a bit of an unrequited love situation on both sides, although our main character Jesse is a bit slower to admit it to himself than Kerry is. The actual romance part DOES take a while to get to, but thankfully some forced proximity and brazenness on Kerry’s part (I was rooting for her) gets things rolling.

Where this story shines is in its characters and the interactions between the brothers. The banter between them felt easy and realistic and had me laughing. The legacy of their mother’s shop weighs heavily on Jesse and the brothers as they navigate what do do with it.

Jesse really has to fight against his reputation as being unfocused and unambitious AND being more than a bit of a player to win his brothers over. He does grow over the course of the book, but one of his actions near the end was the right thing to do, but for the wrong reasons. Meanwhile, Kerry fights against being seen as the little girl who was always just there to get the brothers to take her seriously and see her as the grown-ass adult she is. They both learn to stand up for themselves and what they want after going on a bit of a journey to figure out where they want to go next in life.

The resolution felt a tad bit rushed and the story wraps up quickly but I get my happily ever after, so in the end, I’m satisfied.

I’m giving Real Men Knit 3-1/2 stars (rounded to four for the purposes of NetGalley and Amazon ratings.) Despite the slow start to the story, I soon found myself fully invested in the story. In fact, I loved all of the Strong brothers and will be here if each of the other three brothers gets their own books.

If you’re looking for a fun summer read, look no further than Kwana Jackson’s Real Men Knit.

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