Updated: Jul 18, 2022
This book is scheduled to be released July 3, 2022
Imperfect Love is a coming-of-age story of sorts. Tay Mo'nae gives us four new main characters and all of them appear to be broken in some form or fashion. Dior and Dakota are cousins, by way of their dads. When Dior turns nineteen, she goes to live with Dakota. She's in an awkward space in her life and her big cousin is there to help her figure things out. Then there's Enzo and Sawyer. They're brothers with the same parents. Enzo has recently been released from prison and Sawyer believes that things would have gone differently if he would've protected his brother better. These characters have a lot to figure out individually and collectively and it was very interesting to watch them figure things out.
Dior had a troubled childhood, losing her mom at the age of fourteen and having to live with her dad that never truly was a dad, put her in a virtual shell. The scars left were literally and figuratively. Going to live with Dakota was supposed to be the start of new beginnings, but like the saying goes, old habits die hard. Dior has a hard time getting out of her own way and even with the help and encouragement of Dakota, it's really hard for her. "When I invited you to stay, it was more than me just wanting my cousin to stay with me. I wanted you to find yourself and grow as a person. I was tired of the bullshit you were dealing with and wanted to help you escape it." Until she meets Enzo. Enzo is a guy that's just trying to leave his past behind him. Being snitched on by one of his friends has left a bad taste in his mouth, and rightfully so since he spent his last few years in prison because of it. He's become guarded in every sense of the word, that is until he runs into Dior... literally. A simple run-in, an instant attraction, and the healing power of love is the perfect recipe for their imperfect love story. "It's obvious you've never been loved properly, but I want to fix that."
Dakota and Sawyer were the secondary couple in this story, but their toxicity stole the show. Their merry-go-round of a relationship amped this love story up. Dakota's past has caused her to have trust issues and Sawyer's relationship with his baby mother, Marshay, doesn't help with that. Sawyer calls their relationship good co-parenting. With them being in each other's lives since grade school, they have no choice but to be friends. But after a drunken slip-up in the infancy stages of he and Dakota's relationship, she's calling bullshit. "I couldn't help the jealousy I felt, however. The two of them had a bond that I knew I couldn't break, and that hurt." Sawyer doesn't realize the angst he's causing Dakota until the shoe is on the other foot. "Sawyer stopped kissing me, and my eyes popped open. 'When you get a nigga best friend?'" When he's forced to endure half of the stuff Dakota has, he's forced to make some really tough decisions or be forced to lose his girl. "Look, I'll never tell another grown man how to handle his shit, but if you want to keep Dakota and you're serious about her, set boundaries and stick with them when it comes to Marshay."
The title of this story was so fitting. All four characters had the perfect imperfect love story. When I finished this story, I felt as if I needed therapy. The author touched on physical insecurities along with trust issues, daddy issues, infidelities, and I'm sure some underlying issues I may have missed. But she also had great family dynamics and familial love. As always, the characters were layered, and I appreciated that. From Enzo's occupation to Dior's scarring, I loved the uniqueness of these characters. The story also had an urban undertone, elevating this story from romance to urban romance. I ain't gon cap, Sawyer and Marshay had me tight the entire read. They was playing in Dakota's face and I ain't like that. But even though those characters vexed me, it didn't take away from the enjoyment of the read. Tay has executed another 5-star read and I love that for her.