cover image Close Quarters

Close Quarters

Shamara Ray. Strebor, $15 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-59309-443-0

Brooklyn roommates find romance right under their noses in Ray’s lighthearted, sexy second novel. Melina rues the day she decided to rent out her spare bedroom to Malik. She welcomes the extra money as she builds up her accounting firm, but despite his paying the rent on time and being happy to help with chores, Malik’s hard-partying, womanizing ways couldn’t be more different from Melina’s practical, grounded routine. They also know exactly how to push each other’s buttons—Melina needles Malik to “grow up” while he retorts that she ought to “loosen up.” Even their significant others are polar opposites: Melina has just gotten engaged to Ellis, a straitlaced pharmaceutical executive from a high society family, while Malik enjoys a no-strings-attached fling with a co-worker. As Melina’s future mother-in-law crosses the line from overbearing into downright threatening, and Malik faces a career crisis, the roommates find themselves turning to each other and their casual friendship catches fire. Though some supporting characters become caricatures and material goods are described to a distracting degree, the central romance is full of warmth and humor., Ray (Recipe for Love) showcases her best when her protagonists trade banter like a modern-day, urban Hepburn and Tracy. Agent: Sara Camilli. (Dec.)