Publisher/Date: Urban Books, June 2013
Genre(s): Romance, Drama
Exes as friends…an interesting concept. There are usually two camps on this phenomenon. One says exes are exes for a reason, so why be friends; what is there to discuss after the words “It’s Over.” The other school of thought is that as long as it wasn’t a harrowing break-up and/or you were friends before you hooked up, why not be friends after.
If only Kyla and Asia decided to follow the former and not the latter, THE EXCHANGE would have played out a lot differently. Luckily, Nikki Rashan knows how to craft a story of drama with the realities of love. It’s not all pretty, though.
It’s been some years, but you might remember Kyla from Double Pleasure Double Pain as a naive 26-year-old trying to decide between her “good man” and the blossoming romance with a female classmate. Then in You Make Me Wanna, Kyla hops from bed to bed in her new home of Atlanta, until she meets the love of her life, Asia. Nine years later, love and commitment equal boredom for Kyla and Asia in The EXchange‘s onset, and instead of Kyla being honest about it, she deflects Asia’s nightly relationship quizzes and finds her excitement in her good friend Angie, who recently went through a horrible split from her own girlfriend. In case you forgot, Angie and Kyla had a sex-only relationship in You Make Me Wanna, an arrangement that ended once Asia captured Kyla’s heart. While Kyla found her happily ever after with Asia, she and “friend” Angie always kept the platonic door open; Kyla and Asia even double-dated with Angie and girlfriend, Deidre, occasionally.
Now that Angie and Deidre have called it quits, she needs Kyla’s “friendship” to fill the void. The more they spend time together, the more Kyla discovers that she never knew more about Angie other than her strap size. She’s actually very sweet and attentive — and Kyla is somewhat swayed by Angie’s special treatment. Could it be that the excitement of a new love could erase the stability of a long-standing love? Kyla is about to find out.
The EXchange is a cliffhanger of a book – one, because Kyla takes us on a crazy jaunt through whether you can truly replace something old with something new; or two, because the ending seems destined to have another installment. The back-and-forth between Kyla and Asia is a page-turner for sure. It also raises a lot of interesting questions about keeping the fires brewing in long-term relationships, and I can see The EXchange being hotly discussed in many lesbian book clubs.
Rashan’s writing is solid. The game-playing and bed-hopping also makes The EXchange a gripping story – it’s a lot fun to read; you should have heard me yelling, “No, Kyla, nooo!” when she did something foolish. But as for Kyla and Asia, they could have easily solved their boredom by something
anything else other than bringing people confusion into their relationship. She appears to have grown up in the nine years since being with Asia, but she slightly regresses through much of the novel to the indecisive Kyla she was in Double Pleasure. Asia, with her shoot-from-the-hip attitude, is no walk in the park either; I could have used less of the blame game she pulled about Kyla’s past.
But she was right about one thing: that in the end, love does truly win.
Reviewed July 2013
Chat It Up
Kyla attempts to rekindle feelings with her ex, Angie. So that brings up a though for discussion. Today’s Chat It Up question is: Can exes be friends?
You can vote in the poll, add your own answers, or leave a comment below.
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