Friday, September 1, 2023

Warrior's Prize by Patricia Williams


Wow. After reading this, I kind of want to read more romances set in Africa. Especially historical ones. Does anyone have any recommendations?

Patricia Williams is a new-to-me author that I bought after seeing Rebekah Weatherspoon's TikTok about the history of Black romances and how they've been around a lot longer than (white) people give them credit for. She briefly flashed on another book by this author, called FREEDOM'S SONG, and when I looked that-- and then this-- up, I immediately bought both of the author's books so I could read them, because as a retro romance collector, there's nothing more exciting than finding a new author that you haven't read yet.

WARRIOR'S SONG is set in South Africa/Zululand in the 1800s. The heroine, Monase, is the daughter of an ironsmith. She isn't married because she's too headstrong and too tall: the bane of any historical romance heroine. Cira, the hero, is a warrior in another tribe who is very respected but not married... yet. He also has emotional baggage that will get unpacked later on in the book, that explains his icy demeanor. When they meet, the hero is bathing in a river and the heroine decides to watch (an act he repays later on in the book while she's bathing, we love some sexy reciprocity).


There's not really a lot of plot to this book. Most of the plot is just big misunderstandings. Cira thinks that Monase is in love with her tribe's medicine doctor, a man who the author takes care to remind us SEVERAL times is unattractive, old, "fat" (her words), and also SMEARS HIMSELF IN POOP. No, I'm not kidding. Poop. There's some sort of religious significance to it, I guess, but it seems to be discretionary because the heroine thinks he's gross and weird, too. But Cira is actually super jealous of Jama/Poop Man, which makes him resent Monsae for being a status-chasing gold digger.

Anyway, Cira basically annexes Monase's people, and Monase's little sister is given to Cira's friend (who's a nice teddybear sort of guy, we stan). Cira's chief sees that Cira is into Monase and IIRC, decides to give her to him as a wife. They bonk before the wedding night though, and she gets pregnant and then OH NO, Monase gets sick/chilled and has a fever nightmare about Jama and while muttering his name, Cira is like, "Fuck, she's still in love with that other guy I HATE THIS WOMAN."

There's a battle where they fight YET ANOTHER TRIBE and Cira almost dies. Monase saves his ass and they go to YET ANOTHER TRIBE, where Cira is hit on by every woman there, and Monase gets a marriage proposal from another medicine doctor (this one is hot). They're both drowning in jealousy but because they told the tribe that they're brother and sister, it's not like they can just, you know, kiss and make up lol. But eventually they realize that they're being stupid, and they end up back with their own people and Cira is like, "Hey, actually I love you so much, you're the only wife for me." (Which is a major compliment since warriors can have multiple wives.

I loved the setting and the beginning of this book. You really do get the feeling that Williams did a shit-ton of research, and it shows. I also liked all of the interpersonal interactions within the tribal settings. Where the book lost me a little is the willful extension of the big misunderstanding, the complete lack of communication, and the author choosing to gloss over any and all action scenes. There's a dangerous animal? It just looks at them and walks away. There's a battle? Most of it is going to be off-page. There's OW/OM drama? Okay, but be quick. There's big misunderstandings to linger over.

I do recommend this book if you can find it because it's so unique and I've never seen another romance like it. I also LOVE the cover. It's embossed so the beadwork on the front actually feels like real beading when you run your fingers over it. That was such a neat touch.

3 out of 5 stars

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