Author: Shewanda Pugh
Publisher: Delphine Publications
Length: 87,000 words
Genres: Contemporary Interracial/Multicultural Romance/Women's Fiction
Heat Level: Steamy
When an insecure, bi-racial woman begins a cloak-and-dagger love affair with a Japanese American man, she is intent on keeping her bigoted family in the dark—albeit with devastating consequences.
On the night of her brother’s murder, Deena Hammond stumbles upon Takumi Tanaka, lost and on the wrong end of a .32. After rescuing him from the certain fate driving through the hood in a Porsche will bring, a sweet kind of friendship begins. A balm for her grief. Maybe, Deena likes to think, it happened the day her white mother killed her black father. Or maybe, it was always a part of them, like DNA gone bad. Whatever the case, Deena knows that her family would never approve, hell, never acknowledge her fast-growing love for Takumi. And had he never made love to her that way, in that unraveling, soul-searching sort of way, she could’ve done the same.
But love’s a devil that way.
So, their game begins. One where they hide what they are from everyone. Anyone. And Tak understands this—for now. After all, Deena’s career hinges on the favor of her mentor and boss, his hard-ass of a father. And the Hammond family is already stretched thin with grief. Yet, each step Deena takes toward family and career brings her closer to an acceptance she’s never had. And away from him.
“I wish that I didn’t want my family’s love so bad. I wish I could be one of those people who wore leather jackets and didn’t give a damned.”
Tak shot her a look. “You’d be musty if you wore a leather jacket in this heat.”
Deena grinned. “You know what I mean.”
He shrugged. “Who doesn’t want a decent family, Dee? It’s not much to ask for.”
Tak paused to pluck a seashell from the sand. Chipped and polished by time, it shone under the glint of a fast setting sun. “I don’t know the answers,” he said. “But they seem to be in things like this,” he held up the shell.
She frowned. “I don’t follow.”
He shrugged. “Well think about it. What’s a shell? It’s just a—a hard, protective outer layer.” He hurled it in the ocean. “The same is true with family. They’re an outer layer, a protection from the world. At least that’s what they’re supposed to be.” He paused. “Think about what happens when you screw with an animal that has one of those hard shells. What does he do?”
“He goes into it.”
“Right. He retreats.” He thumbed the shell thoughtfully. “Now imagine if you were to rip the shell off a turtle and expose him. What do you think you’d find?”
Deena cringed. “Something soft and hurting.
“And dead, if not close to it. So, our hypothetical turtle, who’s able to stand our shell transplant, needs another shell, another form of protection. And so do you.” Tak handed the grooved and sand-polished subject to Deena. She looked down at it.
“So, how’ve I been surviving all this time? What’s my shell?”
Tak grinned. “Tell you what. I’ll let you know when I crack it.”
A slender, striking man of Asian descent was on the wrong end of Anthony’s .32. With arms raised, his hands were splayed in a show of defenselessness. His expression was calm, despite the growing crowd of onlookers and the pistol in his face. Behind him, an old woman made the sign of the cross.
“Anthony!” Deena cried, rushing towards them. Her brother cast a single sideways glance but kept his gun level.
“Get back in the house,” he said.
Deena turned her attention to the Asian man. She was struck by his eyes, wide and heavy-lidded. His mouth was generous, his square face softened by layers of thick black hair. He had boyish good looks and a long, lean athletic frame.
She was certain he was Japanese.
Deena turned to her brother. “Will you put that thing away?”
The two stared at each other, older sister, young brother, eyes narrowed. When he didn’t move, Deena stepped between the gun and the stranger, her eyes level with the barrel. Anthony lowered the gun with a sigh and Deena seized the opportunity to snatch it.
She turned to the stranger. “I assume that’s your car,” she said, nodding towards a sleek gray convertible parked haphazardly, a shiny nickel in a murky puddle. He nodded, his glossy black tresses falling into wide almond eyes.
“Yeah, um, about that.” He cleared his throat. “He uh, took my keys.”
Deena turned to her brother, hand extended. He dropped the keys in her palm with a sigh, a new Ferrari slipping from his grasp with reluctance.
She passed the keys to the stranger and their fingertips brushed. Something warm and foreign turned over in her and her lips parted in surprise. She thought she saw the makings of a smile in his eyes, but she dismissed it. He took the keys and thanked her. And as she watched him peel off with the top down on his sleek convertible, Deena’s pulse skittered then and long after.
Praise for the book
5.0 out of 5 stars - Romance at its best!
“Shewanda Pugh describes her debut novel as a "literary romance," and after reading and thoroughly enjoying it, I can say with conviction that she has artfully mastered the skill of storytelling. Her characters are genuine and complex. The story that she presents is real, and the issues wrapped in that story and in those characters are authentic to real life situations.
She presents her readers with the story of forbidden love, comparable to a modern day version of Romeo and Juliet. In her version, Romeo is Japanese and Juliet is a bi-racial blend of black and white. The two come from different worlds, but still find that ounce of magic that sets them down the path of passion, devotion, and above all, true love. The secondary stories that Pugh includes in the novel add substance to the story, laying out the consequences and outcomes that result from the way in which an individual chooses to live his or her life. All characters in the novel demonstrate an evolution from start to end, especially the heroine, Deena. It was both a joy and a frustration to follow her path of self-discovery and self worth.
Crimson Footprints is a very good read and highly recommended. It's nicely paced, never a dull moment. The essence of the story is heightened not only by the emotion and beauty of the story, but also by Pugh's ability to set the scene through her use of imagery. I loved every word, every sentence, and every page of this book. Her debut novel is definitely one of my favorite reads this year, and I can honestly say I cannot wait to read what's next from Shewanda Pugh.”-- Jamee Pritchard, The Kindle Book Review
5.0 out of 5 stars - Hot Powder Keg: Tri-racial Romance Crosses All Boundaries!
“Wow, wow, and triple wow! I absolutely love Deena, even though I can see why her family thinks she's uptight and uppity. But gosh, I can so relate to her as someone who never really belonged anywhere, always an outsider, always at arms length, and unable to let fly and be herself.
In steps confident, brash, and hedonistic Tak Takumi, who just happens to be Deena's boss's playboy son. Charming, rich, and NICE, Tak sweeps Deena off her feet in a whirlwind romantic tour around the United States. He indulges her, caters to her, understands her and puts up with her insecurities.
While Deena's busy proving her architectural genius to Tak's father and hiding Tak from her family craziness, she inadvertently hurts Tak, the source of her newfound confidence and well-being by denying him the validation he needs. Tak is pushed to the limits of his tolerance and love, and in one explosive moment, Deena comes face to face with life without him.
This story was multi-faceted in so many ways. Both families were mixed up and dysfunctional in so many ways. Secrets, vendettas, hatred and prejudice, guilt, regret, neglect, and abuse, cruel words, bitterness and the taint of murder simmer in a toxic mix of volatile emotions and riotous scenes.
Deena turns out to be stronger than she thought, and while not everything was resolved (which is as it should be), many relationships were repaired and Deena walks away richer with the love, acceptance and support she always craved.”-- Clare Chu
4.0 out of 5 stars - An Engrossing Read...
“Crimson Footprints is a good read. Deanna is a young woman who achieves success despite her family and the world she grew up in. She is an architect in a prestigious firm and has the faith of her boss but hides her talent and ability by accepting mediocre work. She is surrounded by a family that constantly feeds her negativity and guilt; suffering tremendous loss and rejection as a child and later on as an adult. She finds friendship that later blossoms into love all the while juggling the demands of her job and family. Her forbidden love affair fuels her confidence and strength in herself only to have it all come crashing down in a matter of seconds; only then causing her to reflect and become the woman she so dreamed to be. To realize that she deserves to love and be loved no matter if her family or anyone else accepts her. The author develops this story quickly with characters that are complex and convincing. As I began to read this book, I found myself being sucked into Deanna's world. Her insecurities mirrored a lot of my own and I identified with the characters in a lot of ways. I enjoyed this book so much I read it in one sitting. I wanted to give it 5 stars but unfortunately there were some language errors, typos, and repeats of sentences in a couple chapters. I am recommending this book to my friends. We all need to be reminded of what is important in life and to be loved is something we all seek.”-- janxcdlily
Shewanda Pugh is a native of Boston’s inner city, though she now lives in sunny Miami, Florida. She has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Alabama A&M University and a Master’s in Writing from Nova Southeastern University. Fueled from a young age, her passion for crossing societal boundaries like race, class and culture, is the inspiration for both her cluttered bookshelf and her writing. When she’s not busy obsessing over fiction, she can be found traveling, nursing her social networking addiction or enjoying the company of loved ones.
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