Review:  Kiss the Ring
KISS THE RING - Meesha Mink
Simon & Schuster/Touchstone
PRINT | EBOOK
August 2014
MAINSTREAM FICTION
REVIEWER:
Maguerite Lemons |  RATING: C
SYNOPSIS: Naeema "Queen" Cole takes care of herself. From the death of her parents when she was just eleven years old to when she found herself pregnant and alone at sixteen, Naeema has had to make her own way in the world. She gave up her son for adoption and became an apprentice at a barber shop, making just enough money to pay the bills and get high. She tried being a wife, but ultimately found that she and Tank, now her ex-husband, are better friends and occasional lovers than partners. Naeema prefers to be on her own; no responsibilities, no rules.

REVIEW:  KISS THE RING is an urban tale of a mother seeking retribution in the death of her son, by infiltrating the Make Money Crew, the gang he was known to hang around, to see if she can do what the police couldn’t. Find his killer. Naeema skates between regular life and the underworld, as she plays amateur detective.  Naeema and her husband Tank have been separated for a while, but they frequently get-together, and she calls him whenever she needs help.

Naeema “Queen” Cole is informed by Ms. JuJu, the lady who raised her son, Brandon Mack, that he’s been murdered in the streets of New Jersey. This news sends Naeema into a tail spin, which is where this story falls apart for me. It’s hard to connect with Naeema’s character, once you discover that she dropped him off with Ms. JuJu shortly after giving birth, and has had no contact with him the entire fourteen years of his life. Her grief is simply unbelievable. Her motives are self-serving and she’s immature, even after all she’s been through. She’s married and her husband had no idea she had a child. Her relationships with the all of the characters in the book are unrealistic, except maybe the one she has with Sarge, the squatter in her basement. Naeema has had a hard life, but it is a life she chose.

KISS THE RING is set in Newark, New Jersey and the surrounding areas. The plot has a good premise, but the story-telling lost me at times and the pacing is off, because the main character is all over the place. One minute she’s in bed with Tank, the next she’s in the club with the MMC, and then she’s wallowing in self-pity and crying over Brandon. The secondary characters are interesting, but pretty much what you would expect given the circumstances.

This story did not work of me, and I was disappointed when I discovered the ending is left open for a sequel.

1st November 2014 | romcol@caribsurf.com