Busy Aint The Half Of It Cover August 2021

By Frederick Smith and Chaz Lamar Cruz

Ah, life in California. Glitz and glam, acting quests for the Big Break, celebrity success, and treadmills of to-dos. Is life passing you by in your busyness? Such are life lessons for Justin Monroe and Elijah Golden, the main characters of Busy Ain’t the Half of It, the collaborative work of Frederick Smith and Chaz Lamar Cruz.

A brotha now in his 40s, Justin Monroe (aka The Justin Monroe) has had a distinguished career as a respected lead news anchor in Los Angeles. He has the trappings of success—his teenaged twins are in a private school, multiple homes, celebrity status, etc. All this, however, has come with a price. Throughout the book, we see his endless to-do lists, which often separate him from his family. His wife divorced him to pursue her life with another woman. He is now living his own truth as an LGBT man, putting his toes in the water of the dating pool. In addition, he has been demoted at work and replaced by a much younger Black man.

Justin’s nephew, Elijah Golden, is in his late 20s, and acting has always been his passion. He is striving to get that Big Break in film while facing the challenges being Black and LGBT bring in the industry. At the same time, he continues to give excuse after excuse not to move in with his boyfriend Zaire, despite Zaire’s being that Mr. Right his friends and associates keep pointing out.

With unrequited crushes, family and work pressures, and some secrets, can Justin and Elijah step back and find what, like Anita Baker’s song, “brings them joy?” Are they able to take their own advice? Will they see the love that’s been in front of them all along?

Yes, I admit it, I love romance, and Black Love is at the top of the list. Smith and Cruz have deftly created a romance novel with social commentary blended into it. I loved the dynamics of Justin and Elijah’s family of origin and the families they created. They also let the reader know that romance isn’t limited to 20-somethings, since Justin’s love interest is pushing 40 himself. Likewise, Elijah has his contemporaries. And yes, though it takes some soul-searching, Justin and Elijah each finds their respective happily-ever-after (HEA).

I extend a hat-tip and a thank-you to Frederick Smith and Chaz Lamar Cruz for their voices, and for creating another space for LGBT writers of color in Romancelandia. If we don’t share our stories, who will?

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