Review: Smoke
SMOKE - Aja
The Enigma Series (Book #1
She Loves Words Publishing
BUY
Brenda Larnell (A)
CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
REVIEW:  Elijah Lewis is his name. “The Street” knows him by Smoke. We met this gangster hero in Aja’s Soulmate Series. He is the ex-mate of Zora, the father of Zena and Zola; the grandfather of Zoe, and the great-grandfather of Zoe’s son. Smoke is an O.G., and he’s good at what he does, and what he does is not good all the time. He is an enigma, a man of mystery, and a man who is hard to understand. This story is not the usual romance story that we identify with Aja. She clearly steps out the proverbial romance genre box and introduces us to a whole new world of crime, danger, drugs, and murder through a flawed hero who is not only a participant, but a boss. Yet, I love this character she has created, and I believe you will too.

Smoke runs a criminal empire, Smoke Industries, that reaches far and wide in the city of Pittsburgh. He has his hands in a little of every kind of vice there is, but he frowns on the drug game that he feels is “not good for business”. He knows first-hand the destruction drugs have caused in the Black community - from marijuana to heroine to crack, and now Fentanyl. His underground network includes politicians, lawyers, police, and  informants. Joining him in overseeing his underworld business empire is his son, Eli, aka Maestro, and daughter Sarai, aka Slick, both form different women. Believe me, they are both chips off the old block. As I stated earlier, Smoke’s story is a romance of sorts. The woman who steals his heart and brings light to his life in the midst of murky mayhem, is investigative reporter, Aaliyah. Their chemistry is off-the-chart.

The side characters are a hodgepodge of a close circle of trustworthy wannabe gangster minions, bosses and bodyguards. Some are in support roles, and some are in it for themselves. Zora (
SOUL TIES, Soulmates, Book #4) has a key side character role. Believe it or not, there is an HFN for Smoke and Aaliyah. It’s so romantic! However, it’s not the end of the story. We are left with an unsolved murder of Smoke’s best friend and a brief intro to the next story in the series. So, stay tuned!

SMOKE is an entertaining and engaging read that grabs your attention from the first chapter until the last. A disclaimer is in order, however. The language is raw and gritty at times and the “N” word is used quite a bit. Due to the nature of this type of story, the use of that vernacular enhances the storyline and highlights Aja’s incredible storytelling skills.

Having said all of that, I recommend
SMOKE for your reading pleasure. It’s an excellent example of “crime/street/mystery romance”. You can thank me later.

19th July 2022 | romcol@caribsurf.com
(A)