Crimson Footprints by Shewanda Pugh
Publisher: Delphine Publications
Length: Full (356 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by Poppy
When an insecure, bi-racial woman begins a cloak-and-dagger love affair with a Japanese American man, she is intent on keeping her bigoted family in the dark—albeit with devastating consequences. On the night of her brother’s murder, Deena Hammond stumbles upon Takumi Tanaka, lost and on the wrong end of a .32. After rescuing him from the certain fate driving through the hood in a Porsche will bring, a sweet kind of friendship begins. A balm for her grief. Maybe, Deena likes to think, it happened the day her white mother killed her black father. Or maybe, it was always a part of them, like DNA gone bad. Whatever the case, Deena knows that her family would never approve, hell, never acknowledge her fast-growing love for Takumi. And had he never made love to her that way, in that unraveling, soul-searching sort of way, she could’ve done the same. But love’s a devil that way. So, their game begins. One where they hide what they are from everyone. Anyone. And Tak understands this—for now. After all, Deena’s career hinges on the favor of her mentor and boss, his hard-ass of a father. And the Hammond family is already stretched thin with grief. Yet, each step Deena takes toward family and career brings her closer to an acceptance she’s never had. And away from him.
With remarkable skill, Shewanda Pugh paints a picture of a bi-racial woman from a disadvantaged background who is smart and ambitious enough to succeed at life, despite her family's efforts to bring her right back down.
Deena Hammond is a great protagonist. She's got a foot in two worlds as we begin. We see her in her fancy suit, getting off a bus and arriving in a poor, gang-ridden neighborhood. Her family derides her for her fancy ways and are just as biased against her white half as many others are biased against the black.
I felt both badly for and so proud of Deena as I read this book. Her life is a struggle and she does her best to make it through. When she finally finds someone she can love, and who loves her right back it's just another struggle. Why? Well, he's Japanese and exceptionally wealthy (two HUGE strikes against him).
I wasn't sure I'd like this book. The blurb doesn't do it justice but I'm so glad I gave it a chance. It's bold and tragic and sweet and encouraging. The author's writing skills can't be faulted. She created a world that was vivid and real and then invites the reader in. Even with my very busy life, I managed to read this book in just a couple of days, and even now I think about it. There are more stories here to tell: I'd love to know the story behind Deena's mother and the murder of her father. There are hints that it's not all what it seems. And Deena has another sibling she's trying to save. I'd like to see her sister's story, too. Then there's Tak... he's such an awesome hero, and he has family I became attached to as well. I'm sure they have plenty to say!
If you'd like a book full of angst and love, family drama and family redemption, from an author who has amazing skills with the written word, I recommend you give this book a try. I bet you won't regret it.