Who doesn’t love high fashion, lies and money?
by Arlene Brathwaite
Reviewed by: Michelle Bishop
Love, money, international intrigue, sex, and violence converge to create a delightful late night read in Butta Cutz by Arlene Brathwaite. Meet Clayton “Saint” Andrews, on first glance a simple, slightly rough around the edges man accompanying his best friend, Glenn, as he embarks on the most fantastic journey of his fashion career: a private showing of his designs for the wealthiest of the wealthy in New York. However, Clayton is a man of secrets the likes of which eventually endanger everyone around him. Meet Olivia Martin, owner of Butta Cutz. Butta Cutz is a high-end men’s salon staffed by attentive, beautiful and sassy women who are more like family than friends. Olivia is strong-willed, hard-working and talented; she also supposedly is not looking for a relationship when she meets Clayton at the fashion show she attended to support her friend/employee, Grace, as she models Glenn’s fashions.
Sexy, smart Olivia falls for Clayton almost immediately. Despite various obstacles including over protective brothers, Clayton’s secrets, and Olivia’s insecurities, our hero and heroine connect mentally, emotionally and sexually to the immense delight of the reader. A saint Clayton certainly is not; and, he finds himself wishing he were when he falls hard for Olivia.
Brathwaite tells a story that has true page-turning appeal. Butta Cutz is just plain fun – a perfect end of summer read designed to engage and entertain the reader in the tradition of the classic spy novel with an urban twist. Urban high fashion and hair mixes with international glitz and glamour to create a sexy backdrop for love and intrigue.
If there is a downside to the story it’s that we want to know more of the details about Saint’s past. A few more juicy flashbacks would have proven more satisfying than the explanations given later in the novel. The hurried explanations of rather complex situations feel just that, hurried, as if Brathwaite didn’t have time to decide how she would reveal the truth to her characters much less to the reader.
Also, despite Brathwaite’s efforts to celebrate the fuller figure sported by many urban women today, her hero and heroine are still closer to the “standard” idea of beauty than not. Glenn, the slightly effeminate straight man, and Grace, the full-figured model, play prominent roles in the story but as sidekicks. The real story is about the slim, pretty Olivia and the ultra-masculine Clayton. Using traditionally attractive lead characters is not necessarily a drawback to the story; however, it did not go unnoticed by this reader.
Nevertheless, Butta Cutz proves to be just the right kind of read when we need something light and entertaining. Olivia and Clayton are charming with the right amount of rough edges making them not too beautiful to be believable and human enough to have us rooting for them to overcome their obstacles. In the end we want to see love triumph over all.
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