cover image Securing Ava

Securing Ava

Anne Shade. Bold Strokes, $18.95 trade paper (312p) ISBN 978-1-63679-297-2

Shade has a reputation for building deeply imagined settings that foreground the African American lesbian experience, from 1920s Harlem (Masquerade) to this contemporary romantic suspense novel set initially in affluent Chicago. But dedication to setting does not serve the goal of burning up pages with either suspense or romance, which means Shade’s writing strengths are working in opposition to readers’ expectations throughout the encounter between Ava Prescott, 35-year-old heiress to a financial empire, and Paige Richards, a Marine veteran turned private security specialist. Indeed, there are eight chapters of scene-setting before the pair even meet, detailing how Ava is blackmailed by her father to either marry a skeezy male colleague or lose her inheritance. When the fiancé finally shows his true colors, Ava bolts for New Orleans and finds work under an alias in a lounge. The action again goes dormant for a stretch. By the time Paige saunters in, having been hired to track down Ava, it’s too late for either pace or anticipation to recover. What should be a thrilling cat and mouse pairing never quite takes off. (Nov.)