Textile artist Maya Kirkwood is going incognito. After leaving a successful life in New York City, she’s trying to reinvent herself while laying low. She’s overjoyed when up-and-coming Unisco CEO Derek Whitley shows up at her exhibition. Maya would like more than anything to move out of her grubby studio flat and graduate from her frozen burrito and ramen noodle diet. But when he openly mocks her work, how can she accept the UNISCO commission? Returning to her apartment makes the decision all too clear, and when she begins work on her installation at UNISCO headquarters, she catches glimpses of a different Derek, the toned, tanned good-looking man behind the nerdy, tech façade, a man she falls for. But while Maya is busy hiding career-threatening secrets of her own, will Derek’s cold pride, manic ambition, and closet skeletons kill any future for the two of them?
A few months ago, Libby Mercer contacted me to review her second book, Unmasking Maya, which she self-published. Although I consider all review requests sent my way, I can’t accept very many. Mercer and the setup for Unmasking Maya impressed me immediately and I knew I had to take a chance on this contemporary romance. That I wished I would’ve picked it up sooner makes this little book all the rarer. I want to apologize to Libby for not reading it sooner because it was a pleasure to read, and I hope my review will encourage other ereaders to head over to Amazon and download it immediately.
I should say that at under 150 pages, Unmasking Maya is closer to a novella, and the length constitutes my only complaint. Mercer writes the classic hate-to-love romance well, and I found the pairing of a young Mark Zuckerberg-type CEO and a textile/fashion artist, two people who by nature conflict, very engaging. Maya and Derek’s biting banter and loaded interactions were fun and entertaining to read. Maya also befriends Lin, one of the lone females at Unisco, and I laughed audibly at their exchange when Lin finds out Maya doesn’t own a computer:
“…I can’t send you the JPEGs myself because I don’t have a computer.”
Both Lin and Dina halted in their tracks and stared up at me with a mixture of horror and disbelief in their eyes.
“What do you mean, you don’t even have a compute?” Lin asked.
“How is that even possible in this day and age?” Dina wanted to know.
It was all I could do to keep from cracking up in giggles. I was so different from the two of them. Sure it would have been nice to have a computer, but it’s not as if I had to cope without indoor plumbing or something.
I assumed a grave expression and said, “I know. It’s not easy to get through the day with the cold sweats and everything. And the shakes I get at night are the worst.”
Maya’s quick wit is responsible for several other humorous moments in the book. Her many life dramas may be far-fetched at times for some readers, but her calm, level-headed way of dealing with them counteracted any complaints on my end. There is definitely enough material here for both Maya and Derek to be explored in more depth, including a side plot about Maya’s father reappearing in her life. I’m not finding fault with the length other than I liked Maya, Derek, and Lin so much I wanted more. Unmasking Maya is a comfort read: sweet, light, and easy to read. I would definitely recommend this to fans of novellas, chick lit or light contemporary romance. As for me I will be going straight to Mercer’s backlist.
Change the Word review-”This was a fun, well-crafted read that had me laughing out loud…”
Giraffe Days review-”I recommend this as a light, breezy read…”
Julie’s Chick Lit review -”The banter between Derek and Maya is fun to read.”