Kristina Forest is one of those authors who can do it all. Not only does she write young-adult stories, but she also writes amazing adult romances including 2024's The Partner Plot.
You might recognize Forest from her adult romance debut: The Neighbor Favor which is a romance made for book lovers. Ultimately, it ended up being one of my favorite books of 2023 so I was so excited when Berkley asked me to share an excerpt.
If you're looking for some Black love romance that's traditionally published, I don't think you can go wrong in picking up either The Neighbor Favor or The Partner Plot. Honestly, I can imagine getting another 5-star from Kristina Forest so I'm excited to pick this one up.
With that being said, I'd like to thank Berkley for setting this up and letting me share an excerpt with all of you because I'm just as excited.
Read an excerpt from The Partner Plot by Kristina Forest.
If you've read the first book, you'll know that we're getting Violet's book and it's her second-chance with her high-school sweetheart. Let's just say that things are much more permanent this time than in the past. Either way, let's get into the excerpt.
Violet turned and quickly scanned the clusters of people moving through the lobby. She’d lost her room key at dinner and was waiting to receive a new card while Karina and the rest of their group got ready for the club. She didn’t spot a familiar face in the crowd. Maybe she’d been imagining things. Alex pointing out Violet’s tattoo must have put her on edge. She turned back toward the desk, and the person shouted her name again. This time, Violet spun around and found herself looking directly at Raheem Anderson from high school.
He was walking right toward her, smiling huge and waving. The ceiling lights reflected off his flashy gold chain and grills. Violet was so dumbfounded to run into Raheem here of all places, she could only stare and blink. The last time she saw him, she’d been seventeen years old, smoking a bowl with him and Xavier in his basement. Eleven years ago. She kept in touch with his fiancé Bianca here and there, so she knew that they were the parents of an absolutely adorable one year old, Raheem Jr. But she hadn’t spoken to Raheem directly in a very long time. She’d deactivated her Facebook a while back and had no interest whatsoever in reviving it. And other than Bianca, she didn’t follow anyone from high school on Instagram.
“What’s up, girl?” Raheem reached Violet and enveloped her in a tight hug. As a teenager, he’d been short and scrawny, the kicker for their football team who’d rather run in the opposite direction than be tackled. Now, he was still short, but he’d gotten stockier, like he worked out. He lifted Violet with ease through the sheer strength of his hug before setting her back down. “How you been?”
“Good.” She was still blinking, still baffled. She placed her arms on his shoulders and leaned away slightly, getting a better look at him. His eyelids were droopy, and she inhaled a faint whiff of alcohol on his breath. “Wh—what are you doing here?”
“Partying, of course! What else? You know how I get down.”
“Ha.” She didn’t know how he got down. Not anymore.
“Your room key, miss.”
Startled, Violet turned to the front desk associate who was holding out her replacement key card. She thanked him and slipped the card in her clutch before turning back to Raheem.
“Well, it was good to see you…” She began to edge away, glancing down at her vibrating phone. There was a text from Edwin on behalf of Karina, asking if Violet was having an issue getting another room key. Alex had also texted and asked where Violet had packed the extra roll of boob tape for Karina’s outfit change.
She needed to get back to her team. Plus, suddenly seeing Raheem in this unexpected way stirred up a lot of memories that she’d rather keep buried deep in the crevices of her mind where they belonged.
“Wait, one second,” Raheem said, holding out an arm to still her. He glanced back and stood on tip toe, waving his hand and beckoning someone else over.
Somehow, without having concrete proof, she knew who Raheem was calling out to. Because who else would it be? The blood drained from Violet’s face. Her throat grew dry, and she swallowed thickly. She took another step back, ready to escape.
“Actually,” she croaked. “I can’t—”
“X!” Raheem shouted, his hand placed lightly on her elbow. “Come here, cuzzo!”
She squeezed her eyes closed. Her insides were screaming at her to make a run for it.
I’m not ready for this! I was supposed to be cool, calm, and collected when I saw him again! Not exhausted and running on three hours of sleep! He was supposed to look at me and immediately regret the day he broke my heart!
She forced herself to take a deep breath and open her eyes. Then the air whooshed right out of her. Standing a head taller than everyone around him and striding in her direction was the former love of her life.
He and Violet locked eyes and the room tilted off center. She blinked rapidly and cleared her throat, silently scolding her heart for its erratic beating. But her heartbeat only defied her more as Xavier drew closer. She took in his strong build and alert gaze. His shiny, perfect curls atop his fresh haircut. His smooth, acne free skin. Oh, fuck, he was still gorgeous. Why?! Why hadn’t he developed a receding hairline? Why didn’t he have a struggle bus beard that refused to connect? That was what he deserved!
And he was smiling at her. Smiling. Like he was overjoyed to see her. Like he hadn’t shattered her poor, fragile nineteen-year-old heart into a million little pieces.
“Violet,” Xavier said, coming to a stop right in front of her. He sounded dazed, somewhat breathless. “Hey.”
Then he was hugging her. He wrapped his arms around her, enfolding her against his body. He was still so much taller than her. Her face was adjacent with his chest. Her pulse thundered, and she commanded herself to breathe deeply and stay cool. God, he smelled good. Minty and clean. For a moment, she was so overwhelmed, she didn’t know what to do, how to respond. Stilted, she lifted her arms and brought them around to rest at his upper back. The awkwardness and shock she felt at his presence momentarily melted into familiarity. It was so natural to hug him. Like nine years hadn’t gone by since they’d last spoken, standing on his front porch on the first day of winter break.
Their hug was both never-ending and brief. Xavier’s arms fell away and he stepped back, putting a polite amount of distance between them. Violet cleared her throat again and let her eyes roam his face, noticing the differences between then and now. For one, there was his full beard and the deeper laugh lines around his mouth. He’d put on more weight, and it looked good on him. His cheeks were fuller, his build slightly huskier. He was no longer the wiry beanpole from high school. But some things remained the same, like the beauty mark above his left eyebrow and the scar on his chin from when he’d fallen during a game.
While the excerpt was a bit longer, I decided to cut it down a bit but I still wanted to make sure we got some great juicy moments and meet both Violet and Xavier. Either way, this gets me even more excited about The Partner Plot and to see what Kristina Forest has planned next.
The Partner Plot by Kristina Forest is set for release on February 27th, 2024.
What do you think of this excerpt from The Partner Plot? Will you be grabbing a copy when it comes out? Let us know in the comments!