Published by Atria on August 2014
Genres: African American Romance
Buy on Amazon
The New York Times bestselling Queen of Erotica, Zane is back with a new novel about a testy love affair that emerges between a woman who’s had enough and a man who’s had it all.
Jemistry Daniels is a bitter woman and not trying to hide it. Even though she is beautiful, intelligent, and makes six figures a year as a high school principal in Washington, DC, one man after another has failed her. So she decides to give up and join the party by adapting the entire “friends with benefits” mentality with a couple of men that she beds on the regular but refuses to hold any kind of real conversation with, in fear that she might actually catch feelings.
Everything is going according to plan until she meets Dr. Tevin Harris, a prominent vascular surgeon, one night at a poetry slam. Tevin listens to her deliver her male-bashing poem and instead of steering away from her like most men with any common sense would do, he asks her out. Tevin has been casually dating for years, ever since his failed marriage to Estella. They had suffered several miscarriages and the emotional pain had become too much for either one of them to bear and still wake up with each other every morning.
Opening up, gaining trust, tearing down barriers, and ultimately, having the audacity to love again is not easy for either Jemistry or Tevin. It takes a lot of transparency, emotional honesty, and patience to even begin to build a life together by helping each other rebuild what has been broken. The Other Side of the Pillow examines, explores, and exposes what it means to truly fall in love. It proves that true love stories do not have a happy ending. True love stories never end at all.
Today’s review is courtesy one of my favorite Book Bloggers, Lisa at Reads4Pleasure. We have incredibly similar reading tastes and I always know that if she loves something, I should take a look! When The Other Side of the Pillow popped up, we both decided we’d read it to see what it was about, then thought it would be fun to cross post reviews. This is my first crosspost, so haaaaayyyyy R4P Readers!
When Goodreads and Facebook friends saw that I was reading the latest from Zane, I got a few “girl, what?” and “really though” comments from them. After all, I don’t do urban lit or Harlequin-like romances or erotica, so what gives? I was on a fact finding mission!
Years ago before Twitter, Facebook and blogging, there was AOL. Zane was an active chat room member, as was I, and she would write a story here and there and email them to anyone that was interested. Her stories were good back in the day. There was a taste of erotica, but not nearly as in your face as her work became later. Shortly after she got published, but long before she got her own imprint and introduced the world to an army of urban lit and erotica writers, I stopped reading her work. It got to be too much for me.
In her latest, Jemistry Daniels, an admittedly bitter woman, is romanced by Dr. Tevin Harris, a surgeon with a heart of gold. Tevin is such a good guy that both Jemistry and I kept waiting for him to screw up. Like, he was really just that perfect. Jemistry, on the other hand, just wasn’t. In addition to being bitter, and having a horrible name, she was mistrusting. I’m still not sure why Tevin approached her in the bar with so much negativity radiating from her.
Told from the perspective of both characters, The Other Side is somewhat refreshing. It’s not often that we get to see a relationship from both the male and female viewpoint and it would have been enjoyable if their thoughts were shared concurrently. Instead, what Zane does is give each character 10-12 dedicated chapters before moving back to the other character. The problem is time has lapsed, so you don’t get to know what the other character was doing in those 10 – 12 chapters if the one telling the story doesn’t interact with them. For example, at one point, Jemistry and Tevin split. We see Tevin agonizing over the situation and beating himself up for several chapters, but we don’t get to see what Jemistry is doing during that time. By the time she’s introduced back into his story line, weeks have passed so we miss out on her thoughts and emotions during their break.
The Other Side of the Pillow is the first thing Zane’s written in a while, so I was interested to see if her writing style had changed and if she’d grown any. I remember her original stories having more depth to them and better conversation. I also remember bedroom scenes being better written. At some points it was almost as if she remembered who she was and what her readers expected, so she threw naughty language and scenes in that seemed forced and not at all natural. While it’s an okay story, it seemed to meander at times. It’s fine for a beach read, but if you’re looking for something with depth (and if you’re picking up Zane-like books regularly, I know you’re not), then this surely isn’t for you.
Thanks so much for a great review!