BROWN SUGAR & SPICE by Mathis Bailey


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A romantic sequel continues the story of an African-American foodie’s misadventures in love.

Though they are no longer together, Pierre Jackson still harbors a strong attraction to his former fiance, the closeted CNN news anchor De’Andre “Dre” Harris. That’s why Pierre accepts his invitation to come to a party at Dre’s wealthy parents’ house. But later, Pierre finds out that Dre is currently dating a woman. Pierre’s work life in Toronto isn’t much better. He’s struggling to earn a living writing freelance reviews of local restaurants while sharing an apartment with his friend Zola Washington. Zola escaped an abusive relationship in Atlanta and is frustrated with the lack of soul food in Toronto. She has decided to try to open her own restaurant to fill the niche and wants Pierre, who moved to Toronto from Detroit, to be her business partner. Pierre is unsure. It sounds like a desperate step for both of them, as even Zola seems to admit: “Seriously, Pierre, you aren’t getting any younger, and neither am I. We both must do something different with our lives.” Pierre ultimately decides to help Zola out, though it means courting patronage from Dre and his parents, including agreeing to cater the anchor’s upcoming wedding to his new fiancee, Kendra Devonport. An unexpected trip to the Bahamas to attend his grandfather’s funeral—with the Caribbean-curious Zola in tow—gives Pierre the opportunity to get back to his roots and maybe find a path through the madness of his life. Bailey’s (Confused Spice, 2016) prose is warm and engaging, particularly his figurative language: “He wielded his words like a dull kitchen knife. His wife stared at him blankly but ate it up like a warm sweet potato pie. My mother smacked her lips and flicked off his hollow words like pesky ants.” Pierre, sensible but sensitive, is a relatable protagonist attempting to navigate the rapids of his 30s, caught between his pragmatism and his desire to dream big. The book more or less stands alone from the author’s previous Pierre novel—Bailey includes everything readers need to know—and it satisfies both as foodie escapism and as a messy story of love and friendship.

An entertaining tale of a gay writer and would-be chef in Toronto.

ISBN: 978-0-9959193-2-7
Page count: 271pp
Publisher: Self
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2019


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