Rating: 5 stars out of 5
A long-term family rivalry between the Hashmis and the Swains forms the crux of this story. They are Democrat vs Republican, Muslim vs Christian, and when Rabi Hashmi falls head-over-heels for Matthew Swain, and vice-versa, readers know there’s going to be heartache and strife. They meet at a frat party and have to hide every moment together—from their first kiss to their eventual trip to a hotel.
What makes their love dangerous is that the strong family rivalry started years ago and erupted into violence in the past. Now that their fathers are running for a single Senate seat, it’s so much worse. Though Matthew’s father is likely to pull the votes from their small, predominately white, homophobic town, Rabi’s father stands a good chance of winning the rest of the state.
The early part of the story features the slow buildup of their relationship with both boys expressing a desire to remain virgins. Later, their feelings deepened and they made love amidst the chaos of trying to keep their relationship secret, even after the election. Actually, it’s more important then because emotions were running hot and heavy between the two families and their supporters. It’s a recipe for disaster, and when Matthew’s brothers head out to hunt for Rabi after Matthew’s father finds out and disowns him, readers will find it hard to put the book down.
I enjoyed the early part of the story when the boys were meeting in cornfields and deserted locations, but I was, nevertheless, anxious, and I kept expecting they’d be interrupted and one of them lynched during the romance scenes. That didn’t happen, thankfully, but what did happen carried the second half of the story and that was truly hair-raising and painful to witness. Exciting, frightening, interesting, scary, and emotional are just a few of the words I’d use. The author wrapped me up in the insanity and didn’t let go. The ending is not the traditional Romeo and Juliet tragic ending, and an author’s note explains why. In this instance, there’s a positive outcome—in more ways than one.
If you love a story with star-crossed lovers, family feuds, homophobia, tension, and ulcer-inducing drama, then you should definitely like this one. One word of caution in case these things are triggers: there is violence, death of a secondary character, and suicidal ideation in this story.
The cover by Christine Coffee is creative and fun. It features half of Rabi’s face and half of Matthew’s. Definitely attention-getting.
ebook, 264 pages
Published November 5th 2018 by Riptide Publishing (first published November 3rd 2018)
Original Title Rabi and Matthew
Edition Language English