A visit to a resort turns into a life-changing experience for an entrepreneur and the woman he loves in this novel.
All Nakia Noble wants during her vacation is peace and quiet, but her sister, Kirby, thinks she should find a man and have fun. Nakia catches the eye of Caleb Jones, a successful entrepreneur and outdoorsman. Their connection is instant, and they spend a passionate evening together. Caleb wants to turn their mutual attraction into a romance. While Nakia is drawn to him, she is reluctant to pursue a relationship because he is white and she is African-American. She believes it is easier to marry someone who “sees the world the way you do.” Several weeks later, he visits her family’s resort and discovers their link is still intense. While exploring a cave, Nakia and Caleb fall asleep and wake up in a country called Acirema in an alternative universe. In Acirema, Nakia is part of a special police unit tasked with rounding up weeds, or the oppressed. Caleb is an integral part of the Resistance. As they try to find a way back to their reality, they develop an unshakeable bond, one that is tested as they are pursued by a dangerous enemy. This latest novel from Robinson (OCAAT, 2017, etc.) is an ambitious combination of romance and speculative fiction bolstered by dynamic characters, well-drawn settings, and a propulsive narrative. Nakia and Caleb are strong protagonists whose relationship anchors the story. The author establishes their physical connection in the opening chapters through playful, flirtatious dialogue and scenes that crackle with erotic tension. Nakia’s views on race and relationships inform her vision of her ideal partner, and her reluctance to pursue a romance with Caleb is sensitively handled. They are surrounded by a well-developed cast of supporting characters, including Nakia’s eccentric Uncle Wallace and Kirby. Robinson is particularly adept at creating vivid settings. The contrast between the tranquility of Nakia’s family’s resort and the grim, ravaged Acirema is striking, and the two lovers’ journey is gripping and suspenseful.
An original and thoughtful entry in the contemporary romance genre.