Mess on the Mara is book 2 in the "A Wanderlust Romance" series and a friends-to-lovers trope. Right off the bat, I was curious which route Cher Terais would take on this one. There are a couple of different ways to successfully execute a F2L book and I must say, I both enjoy and was irritated at the same time.
Wait now! Let me explain. I ENJOYED the way the author laid out steps in which these two became lovers. HOWEVER COMMA these two got on my nerves with the secret pining and avoidance that almost ruined their friendship. So, let me start from the beginning.
Andra and Kobe (the main characters) have been best friends practically since the day they met in middle school. Kobe was new to the school and getting bullied for being straight from the motherland. Andra was emotionally distraught because her favorite teacher was leaving the school because he was getting married and moving. Andra took her frustrations out on the bully, essentially gaining a friend out of Kobena Abara, which she didn't really have beforehand.
We learn in the beginning of the book that the friendship between Andra and Kobe sparked a shared interest in African cuisine and they became well known online by their blog/social media platform Gastrafrique (or Get Ya Freak On as Kobe's dad jovially calls it). They feature a variety of African meals they've made themselves from the whole diaspora as well as featuring reviews of restaurants they have visited.
We open chapter 1 with the two announcing to their followers (fellow African Food Freaks) on IG Live that they have reached a milestone of 5 million followers. They shout out their day 1 supporters and read off some of the comments scrolling the feed. This is where we find out that Andra is the extrovert while Kobe is the humble, laid back of the two. This chapter is also where I spotted the first clue that good ole Kobe had a thing for his best friend. Even though the chapter was in Andra POV, her description of his expressions and interaction with her during the live and before a date she was going on right after the live let me know right then that our hero was not feeling her being with another man; i.e. I should be the man on your arms. But, for whatever reason, he kept the shade to a minimum. It didn't stop her from going out though.
After the foundation was made, things got... complicated. Sort of. The two besties soon find out they are being propositioned to both open a restaurant in Atlanta, where they live, and start a reality tv show based on the content they feature on their blog/social media pages. The caveat is, the tv show would start off in Kenya, causing the friends to be separated for longer than they had since Kobe when to culinary arts school in France. But they put their grown folks britches on and agreed to do the ventures simultaneously, especially since they wouldn't have to come out of pocket for anything and they had an anonymous venture capitalist funding it all. The contact person even told them that the offer was drastically skewed in their favor and she was NOT lying.
This is also where we find out more info about Andra's background and family life. She has a love/hate relationship with her mom and her KENYAN father... abandoned her. So, of course, with her filming in her father's homeland, my antennas went up. I just knew she would eventually run into him in some way, but the way she discovered him had me hyped. There were many times after that discovery that had me swinging in the air of my mind.
Between the almost kiss at the airport, Andra seeing A LOT more of Kobe than she ever had, Kobe's reconnection with his high school sweetheart and Andra meeting her father's side of the family, I completely understand why this book is called MESS on the Mara. Because baby, they were a hot ass mess and honestly, some of the things they did could have been done off page.
Example: Someone asked a question on SM awhile back about how people feel when there are detailed (relation)ships on page of the main characters with other people before the 2 MCs get together and I must say this, I don't like it. lol I don't care about how good Keland can put it down in bed or how well Shay can suck him off. And I damn sure didn't care about how sexy Carmel still looked since the last time they'd seen each other. They were non-mf-factors in the story until that plot point was delivered. I definitely could have lived without the sex and it's dialogue with those non-factors. But that's just my opinion.
Oh yeah, and Crazy Balls (Kobe's mastiff) needs to get her intuition checked since her senses didn't allow her to treat Thing 2 the same way she treated Thing 1 when they were in Kobe's house. Where was her instinct to know that B---- was trifling like she felt about the first one?
And another thing... The slap heard (and veiwed) around the world that Andra delivered should have been a two-for-one special with mother and daughter. I understand how the daughter's misunderstanding and love for her mother may have made her feel a way. However, don't get what you don't understand get yo ass whooped. Andra handled her a lot nicer than I would have. But she knows how to be graceful, I guess. lol
All and all, I was pleased with this book. I am curious to see how things played out behind the scenes with Andra's parents after everything was said and done. I will say that... I want to thank Cher Terais, once again, for allowing me to receive an advanced copy of one of her books for an honest review.