Bolu Babalola | Honey & Spice

The Book:

Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola
Published: July 2022 by William Morrow, Harper Collins Publishers

Torrie’s Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Plot (Goodreads):

Sharp-tongued (and secretly soft-hearted) Kiki Banjo has just made a huge mistake. As an expert in relationship-evasion and the host of the popular student radio show Brown Sugar, she’s made it her mission to make sure the women of the African-Caribbean Society at Whitewell University do not fall into the mess of “situationships”, players, and heartbreak. But when the Queen of the Unbothered kisses Malakai Korede, the guy she just publicly denounced as “The Wastemen of Whitewell,” in front of every Blackwellian on campus, she finds her show on the brink.

They’re soon embroiled in a fake relationship to try and salvage their reputations and save their futures. Kiki has never surrendered her heart before, and a player like Malakai won’t be the one to change that, no matter how charming he is or how electric their connection feels. But surprisingly entertaining study sessions and intimate, late-night talks at old-fashioned diners force Kiki to look beyond her own presumptions. Is she ready to open herself up to something deeper?

A gloriously funny and sparkling debut novel, Honey and Spice is full of delicious tension and romantic intrigue that will make you weak at the knees.

Torrie’s Review:

Many thanks to William Morrow Paperbacks for gifting me this book – I won a Goodreads Giveaway! I rarely select rom-com novels for myself, so I am very thankful I won this one, it was fantastic!

I absolutely adored Bolu’s writing and characterization of Kiki. Kiki, as well as Kai, were well rounded and complete humans. They had substance, and that is so important to me in a romance novel. I need to believe these people exist if you also want me to believe they can truly fall in love. I loved Kiki and Kai’s banter and relationship. It wasn’t a particularly new way of writing the girl that has walls up and the boy that pretends to be a player, but I believed in their separate backgrounds and their future together.

I wish that the projects that Kiki and Kai are working on were a bit more polished. I’m definitely not an expert in media programs, but I struggle to believe that taking a radio show that was well-balanced with the personal opinions and abstract advice down the road of a reality show would be seen as elevating it. I think there were aspects that Kiki touched on that did elevate it (the man’s perspective) but the showmance and reality aspect of it felt cheap and immature. I struggle to see that as the defining factor that does (or does not) get her into her summer program. I feel similarly about Kai’s project – to go from an artistic piece about his hometown barbershop, to a collection of romantic interviews, it just doesn’t seem to be stepping it up.

I also had a problem with the fact that everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) in Kiki’s life is wrapped up in a nice little bow.

Spoiler title
The fact that Kiki got the opportunity to reunite with her high school friend AND that friend apologized, it was just too neat and perfect. Sometimes we lose friends over dumb shit, that is real life, and I’d have preferred if the high school storyline stayed, but if the high school friend didn’t show up in the present in any fashion.

I felt like this book did a good job of pacing the build up of the romance and letting us actually live in the romance as well. Even though I thought Kiki could have leveraged her show better for her application, I absolutely loved the backdrop of the radio show. It gave a unique setting and storyline that I appreciated and was fascinated by. I definitely recommend giving this book a read, it was sweet, funny, and engaging!

Meet Guest Reviewer by Torrie Lewine

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