When I saw the title Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson, I was hooked and wanted to read the book. Until this summer, I am not sure I had ever read a rom-com. Now, I have read three. Real Men Knit features four brothers brought together by Mama Joy Strong. She adopts the boys out of foster care and nurtures and loves them, creating a family.
Mama Joy owns and operates a yarn shop in Harlem, a small shop where neighbors gather to knit and crochet and learn from each other. Kerry Fuller, not exactly an orphan or in foster care herself, but often left by her inattentive mother, finds refuge in the Strong Yarn Shop too.
Now in her early twenties, Kerry has finished college and hopes to get a full-time job at the rec center where she works part-time. She also works part-time for Mama Joy in the yarn shop. Then suddenly and unexpectedly, Mama Joy dies of a heart attack. Her death leaves her four sons and Kerry, an almost daughter, bereft and uncertain about how to continue.
Damian, the oldest brother and a successful financial analyst, wants to sell the shop including the building and apartment above the shop where the boys grew up. Lucas, the second oldest, is an NYC firefighter and often stays at the firehouse even when not on duty. Noah who is actually Lucas’s half-brother, is a dancer and ready to go on tour soon. That leaves Jesse, the youngest brother and the most problematic.
Jesse has flitted from one job to another almost as quickly as he has moved from one female to another. Therefore, when the boys get together after Mama Joy’s funeral, Damian, Lucas, and Noah are stunned when Jesse says he wants to keep the shop open and to run it himself. The three older brothers are more than reluctant to allow Jesse to try this venture until Kerry steps in and says she will continue helping to get Jesse started.
The four young men need the store to become financially sound because Mama Joy has borrowed money putting the brownstone up for collateral in order to keep the business afloat. Thus, the five of them have a serious problem in trying to make the business stay alive.
Mama Joy has always been the glue to hold the four disparate boys together. What will keep them form tearing each apart now? Kerry’s frequent reminders of “is this what Mama Joy would want” do go a long way toward keeping the young men grounded and avoiding fights.
Add another complication into the mix. Kerry’s apartment suffers a blast when a gas leak causes an explosion in an adjacent building. Lucas and his firefighting brothers swarm the building warning residents to pack a bag and leave immediately. Lucas has also notified Jesse about Kerry’s predicament.
Thinking the residents will be able to return to the building even the next day, Jesse tells Kerry she can stay in Damian’s room in the brownstone above the yarn shop. Of course, it turns out that the structural damage to the apartment building will take longer to assess and repair than one day and night, so Kerry must either go to the Bronx for temporary housing and spend hours on the bus or subway getting to and from her apartment and work or she could continue to stay at the brownstone.
Readers also recognize the tension between Jesse and Kerry. They have known each other practically all their lives, but they have side-stepped one another most of that time. Besides, Kerry knows what a player Jesse is and does not feel she can trust him to have her best interest at heart.
Both Jesse and Kerry have ideas about sprucing up the Strong Yarn Shop and for the most part, their ideas are compatible. All four brothers work together to paint and add decorative touches to the shop. The regular knitting group of neighborhood women return even before the renovations have begun.
I did tire of the Strong brothers calling Kerry “Kerry girl.” I found it irritating and so does she!
Kerry creates Instagram and Twitter accounts and starts posting pictures of the handsome young men as they work to refurbish the Strong Yarn Shop. Just how will the ideas work to create more business as well as hold on to the customers already familiar with the store? Readers will have to read the whole book to discover the secrets and whether a spark does really exist between Jesse and Kerry or is it between two others in the story?
Kwana Jackson, http://www.kmjackson.com, grew up in NY and worked for ten years designing women’s sportswear, a dream from her childhood of being a fashion designer. Her other dream included becoming a writer. Jackson then decided she would venture into the world of writing and quit her job to begin writing. Readers will quickly see that Jackson has succeeded in both of her dreams.