Review: Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

Real Men Knit is an introduction to a community -and a romance- that is packed full of love, and it’s one I will definitely be coming back to.

Real Men Knit CoverWhen their foster-turned-adoptive mother suddenly dies, four brothers struggle to keep open the doors of her beloved Harlem knitting shop, while dealing with life and love in Harlem.

Jesse Strong is known for two things: his devotion to his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, and his reputation for breaking hearts in Harlem. When Mama Joy unexpectedly passes away, he and his brothers have different plans on what to do with Strong Knits, their neighborhood knitting store: Jesse wants to keep the store open; his brothers want to shut it down.

Jesse makes an impassioned plea to Kerry Fuller, his childhood friend who has had a crush on him her entire life, to help him figure out how to run the business. Kerry agrees to help him reinvent the store and show him the knitty-gritty of the business, but the more time they spend together, the more the chemistry builds. Kerry, knowing Jesse’s history, doesn’t believe this relationship will exist longer than one can knit one, purl one. But Jesse is determined to prove to her that he can be the man for her—after all, real men knit. (Goodreads) Goodreads

I received an eARC of Real Men Knit from Netgalley in an exchange for an honest review.

There was a lot to love about Real Men Knit. I loved the family and community atmosphere in the store and in their lives. Getting to know all of the brothers was very fun, and Jackson set us up to have several more books in the series following each of them. I very much look forward to reading them all.

Grief informed so many of the decisions made throughout Real Men Knit in a very realistic way that made my heart ache. I loved seeing all of the ways that Mama Joy had impacted her part of the world – from the gang of old ladies to the little kids to Jesse and Kerry themselves. The way that they both picked up her mantle and grew the business into their own was beautiful to read.

The romance also evolved very naturally to me as a reader. I loved how Jackson played with each character’s memories from growing up alongside the other, and the way that those memories turned into new ones as adults. It was sweet and steamy at the same time, with tons of heart.

One minor thing that I wanted to see more from was the social media aspect of reforming the store and getting new customers in, as well as Jesse’s reformation tour. Jackson told us about it but didn’t show how it really impacted the store’s reopening until it was all over. I would have loved to see more of Kerry making that work and actually teaching Jesse about running the store because it would have brought a little more depth to the emotional beats of the story.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. If it sounds like what will get your stitches going, you can pick up a copy from The Ripped Bodice, Bookshop, Book Depository or Amazon through our affiliate links.


Title: Real Men Knit

Author: Kwana Jackson

Publisher: Berkley Books

Length: 320 Pages

Release Date: May 19, 2020

Rating: Recommended

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

Representation: Black American male main character, Black American female main character,  Asian secondary character, Black-Asian secondary character, Latinx secondary character


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