Deena Hammond has dreams of becoming the type of architect that changes the way people view buildings. She has the talent to rise to the top, but personal problems may put everything at risk. Deena's family seems intent on dragging her down when all she wants is to escape the violence, drugs, and sex of Liberty City. Deena also falls in love with her boss's son, which may compromise her career. Add in the fact that both hers and Takumi's family are not open to bi-racial relationships and Deena finds herself struggling to keep her life from falling apart.
Even though many readers may never have to deal with the death of a family member due to gun violence, face becoming an outcast because of the ethnicity of their partner, or risk losing a promising career to keep the person they love, but readers will find themselves drawn into Crimson Footprints because of the realism of both the characters and story.
Deena and Takumi both face rejection by their families because of their relationship. The fear they have of their relationship being exposed was handled very well. I felt concerned and worried right along with the characters. What helped me connect with the characters was that their fears were not over the top, nor were they too blase. Deena especially had a lot to lose if her love for Takumi was discovered. Even at the risk of hurting Takumi, she wasn't willing to step that step into the unknown and announce their relationship. It was hard to watch Takumi be hurt by this, but it was completely understandable. I could see her reactions happening in real life. This handling of reactions and emotions was well done throughout the book.
The romance between Deena and Takumi develops slowly, more slowly than I expected, but despite the slower pace, I didn't find myself wishing it were any different. Pugh set up Deena's insecurities and fears about relationships very well in the initial chapters, so Deena's slow acceptance of Tak's affection felt quite natural. When the sexual tension between them began to build it was all the more effective because of this. I will point out that when the relationship did become sexual, there were sex scenes that were somewhat descriptive. These scenes do make this inappropriate for younger readers.
The pacing with the relationship was actually the same as the overall story. It was longer than I expected, and at times I wondered why I wasn't bothered by the slow pace. For a while I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but after finishing I realized I didn't mind the pace and length because rather than just reading a story, I felt like I was experiencing Deena's life along with her. I never found myself bored, however, this isn't a quick read. Readers will need some time to devote to Deena's story, but the time spent will be worth it.
The only aspect of the book I didn't love was scenes where Deena's little sister became the MC. Her chapters were interesting, but they never really connected to anything in this book. I kept waiting for her story to come into play with Deena's and it really never did. I realize that Pugh was setting this up for the second book, but I found it to be distracting. I felt the story would have been better served if these scenes had been kept back for the second book.
There was also a significant amount of profanity in this book. Mainly it came from Takumi and others, but Deena also in a smaller proportion. There are sexual topics discussed in a fair amount of detail as well. My only other complaint was that the editing could have been better. Missed words and grammatical errors were distracting at times, but not a deal breaker.
Overall, this was a fascinating read. Looking into the life of Deena Hammond kept me interested throughout the book. The length and pacing may be an issue for some, but personally I wasn't bothered by it, which is actually unusual for me. I enjoyed following Deena's story and would be interested in reading more about her life.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, but it won't be for everyone. This is a very interesting and captivating read, but the pacing, length, language,and sexual aspects may put some readers off.
Who would I recommend this to? This is mainly going to appeal to women in the 18-35 range. I would not recommend it for younger readers. The dramatic elements are a big draw for drama readers. The romance was well written, but may not pull in serious romance readers.
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Crimson Footprints is available now from Amazon in Paperback or Kindle.