Knot Again

Knot Again

by Kwana Jackson

Narrated by N'Jameh Camara, Keong Sim

Unabridged — 8 hours, 57 minutes

Kwana Jackson
Knot Again

Knot Again

by Kwana Jackson

Narrated by N'Jameh Camara, Keong Sim

Unabridged — 8 hours, 57 minutes

Kwana Jackson

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Overview

One of...
USA Today's Best Rom-Coms of July
Shondaland's Best Books of July
BookRiot's Best Romance Novels of July

Sometimes fireman Lucas Strong feels like he can only find any peace and quiet at the local laundromat, where every day is rinse and repeat - until a fateful run-in with his high school crush.

Hoping to attract more customers to his family's knitting shop, Lucas Strong participated in an FDNY charity calendar and accidentally became a local celebrity. The only place he can find solace is Scrubs-a 24/7 laundromat where he can disappear for a couple of hours. But Lucas's soapy sanctuary is shaken by an inquisitive little girl with a late-night interest in knitting, whose mother is his old school crush.
 
Sydney Harris knows that Harlem is like any other small town, and everyone is probably whispering about how she left such a good man-and a good life-behind to wash and fold laundry by the pound. If only they knew the truth. But Sydney will always put her daughter's happiness first, even if that means moving back to Harlem and facing her past.
 
What Sydney never expected was to see Lucas again. A long-forgotten attraction kicks into high gear as Lucas and Sydney start to spend time together at the laundromat, and they must decide if this is true love or just an infatuation, thin and fragile as a soap bubble.


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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

05/30/2022

A recently divorced single mother gets another shot with her high school crush in Jackson’s lackluster sequel to Real Men Knit. After leaving her unfaithful husband and heading home to Harlem, Sydney Harris’s focus is on her nine-year-old daughter—but she just can’t shake the hold that firefighter and knitting enthusiast Lucas Strong has always had on her heart. Lucas has become a local celebrity thanks to his participation in the FDNY calendar and finds refuge in the quiet of the 24-hour laundromat—which just happens to be where Sydney works. Though Lucas regrets not making a move years ago, guilt and grief over the deaths of his birth and adoptive mothers makes him reluctant to do so now. But then Sydney’s ex-husband starts sniffing around, and Lucas realizes that he needs to voice his feelings or risk losing Sydney forever. Jackson drags out the will-they-won’t-they for far too long, with Sydney running hot and cold in a way that will leave readers as confused as Lucas is. Indeed, the couple spends more time alternately reminiscing and pushing each other away than building a fresh start. Series fans will be pleased to see that the camaraderie between Lucas’s brothers carries through from the first book, but the romance itself disappoints. Agent: Evan Marshall, Evan Marshall Agency. (July)

From the Publisher

Jackson unspools another sassy and sexy love story, following Real Men Knit (2020), in a series that will hook romance readers with its focus on a multicultural community that makes this Harlem neighborhood feel like a cozy small town.”—Booklist

Praise for Real Men Knit

"Readers who adore snappy family banter and feel-good romance won't want to miss this one."—NPR

"A big-hearted, warm, funny story of community, family and unexpected romance, Real Men Knit is an absolute winner."—Kristan Higgins, New York Times bestselling author

"Such a fantastic read, complete with an emotion-filled romance, and a cast of characters I’m so looking forward to seeing again."—Nalini Singh, New York Times bestselling author

"Gorgeous, funny, sexy, smart."—Penny Reid, New York Times bestselling author

“I loved every word of Real Men Knit. It’s a sweet and satisfying slow-burn of a romance about what knits us together as family, friends, and lovers. I can’t wait for the next installment of the Old Knitting Gang!”—Lyssa Kay Adams, author of Isn’t It Bromantic?

"Kwana Jackson combines everything I look for in a story: family, heart, romance; and knits it into the perfect reading experience."—Farrah Rochon, USA Today bestselling author

“Kwana’s characters and vivid world-building leap off the page in this hilarious and heartwarming frenemies-to-lovers story.”—Andie J. Christopher, USA Today bestselling author

"This emotional, funny, and sexy friends-to-lovers romance introduces us to the enticing Strong brothers & has me clamoring for more!"—Priscilla Oliveras, USA Today bestselling author

“Like a hand-knit sweater, you’ll want to wrap yourself up in this delightful love story.”—Tracy Brogan, USA Today bestselling author 

"Reminiscent of Four Brothers, but completely original, Real Men Knit is heartfelt and romantic, hitting just the right notes of emotion."—Kennedy Ryan, Wall Street bestselling author

“With love and laughter, Kwana Jackson's contemporary romance Real Men Knit captured my imagination and held it from the very first page. I loved this book!"—Jenn McKinlay, author of Wait for It

Kirkus Reviews

2022-05-25
A firefighter with a tragic past rekindles a 15-year-old romance when his newly divorced crush moves back to town.

After having been crowned Mr. November for this year’s upcoming FDNY calendar, firefighter Lucas Strong is plenty exhausted keeping his Harlem neighborhood safe and dodging passes from CPR patients. Since his foster mother, Mama Joy, died almost a year ago, he works extra hours helping his three brothers at their yarn shop, Strong Knits, on top of his shifts at the firehouse. He can barely sleep, and when he does, he's plagued by nightmares about the deaths of Mama Joy and his birth mother. The only place Lucas truly finds comfort is Scrubs, the laundromat owned by Sydney Harris-Hughes’ grandfather. Sydney, the no-nonsense "Ice Princess of Harlem" and his high school crush, left home to study at George Washington University and started a family as a D.C. society wife to appease her mother. Lucas never felt that he could have offered a grand enough life for her, but when Sydney returns to Harlem, divorce papers in hand, to help Pops at Scrubs, he realizes he may finally have a shot at telling her his true feelings. Yet with Syd’s disappointment about what she sees as her failure to be “Mrs. Perfect” and Lucas’ fear of not being able to save the women he loves, they both run the risk of leaving too many words unsaid. The second book in Jackson's Real Men Knit series follows the second Strong brother as he navigates family, romance, and unresolved trauma. Jackson excels at the family portion, breathing personality into each of the Strong brothers and Syd’s 9-year-old daughter, Remi. Lucas and Syd’s union is underwhelming, though, and they spend so much time talking in circles that you’ll get whiplash from wondering how they finally ended up at a resolution.

A promising second-chance romance that takes one too many tumbles.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940176099911
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication date: 07/26/2022
Series: Real Men Knit series , #2
Edition description: Unabridged

Read an Excerpt

1

 

You know, you really are a little shit, Lucas Strong."

 

"Little"? How would you know?

 

The rebuttal was on the tip of his tongue, but instead of saying anything, Lucas scoffed to himself and ignored the insult that was hurled his way. He knew she was angry. She expected him to respond. To perhaps be thankful for her come-ons. But still it got tiring. The week had been crap, and now here was Michelle going on. Practically ready to tie him up with the new twisted wool blend the shop just got delivered. Lucas inwardly shivered. He needed to stay cool.

 

Not take the bait. And that's all this woman was doing with her "little" comment. Baiting him.

 

Hell, there was nothing little about him. Never had been. Not even when he was a kid and actually was little and faking it on falsified guts thanks to the fact that at times it was all he and Noah had keeping them together in the group home after their mom died and before Mama Joy came and rescued them. And definitely not since he'd become a man. No, nothing little about him since then, that was for sure.

 

So, when Michelle gave a loud "humph" and added a petulant foot stomp, Lucas thought only briefly about looking her way. But no. He wasn't playing into that game. Not tonight. He'd had more than enough. The day had already been plenty full of women throwing unnecessary fits at his expense. Right now, all he wanted to do and give any attention to was diving full force into his much-needed plan of rest and all-about-himself self-care. Sure, it might sound a little selfish, but after the hellish week he'd had, if he didn't deserve it, he sure as hell needed it.

 

But for now, here he was, stuck. Doing a shop closing and being insulted on top of it by this woman, with her long linger in the worsted section and suggestive pawing of the Peruvian highland wool.

 

Lucas squelched down a sigh. Tonight he'd only planned on barely passing through Strong Knits, the shop that he and his three brothers, Jesse, Noah and Damian, now owned since the sudden passing of Mama Joy, coming up on a year ago. They were now running the shop, though that term was used in only the most tenuous of ways, thanks to the help of Kerry-their longtime shop helper and now Jesse's full-time girlfriend.

 

Lucas threw up a silent but earnest prayer, one that he knew his other brothers probably said too, that Jesse stayed on the straight and narrow and never fucked things up with Kerry. She was way too perfect for him, the shop-hell, all of them. She had been running the shop since their mother passed away last year.

 

But today Jesse had pounced on Lucas before he'd gotten fully inside. Nowhere near letting him make it to the back of the shop and the steps that led to their living quarters and the glorious rest Lucas had been longing for. No, his younger brother was quick. Always had been when there was a potential payoff involved, and tonight, he guessed the potential payoff was high. Probably for all of them, so he shouldn't complain. Much.

 

Jesse wanted to take Kerry to the Bronx for a date at a new drive-in that had recently opened. Lucas was all set to tell Jesse where he could go with his teen dream Friday date night, but when he took one look at Kerry, with her sweet face and her big brown eyes shining, giving him that "You know you want to do it for me" look, Lucas knew he was sunk. Though Kerry had become Jesse's girlfriend-fiancée, if Jesse finally had his way-the truth was, she'd actually somehow made her way into all the Strong brothers' hearts and wedged herself in so tightly that she was now the sister from another mister who had them all wrapped around her little finger.

 

And what thanks did Lucas get for this finger-wrapping? Not a quiet few hours of watching the world go by outside the window of their Harlem yarn shop while he knit away the time until closing, like Jesse and Kerry had hyped up his night to be. No, he was stuck with Michelle, Ms. "I can't decide between the sock or the bulky weight yarn or the red or the green, but I know for sure I want to get tangled up with you, Lucas Strong."

 

As Michelle continued to babble on, Lucas continued to pretend to not hear her, instead keeping his focus on what he was doing. Knitting and people watching and trying his best to stay cool. It was what he needed to do. What he had to do. Keep his cool and keep his attention on something calm. Something more meditative than passes and insults and what had gotten him into the position where his life had become a constant loop of dodging both. With that thought, though, Lucas afforded himself a single silent groan of frustration, then wrapped the delicate yarn he was fingering around the wooden needles in his hands, gave a twist and-

 

"Did you hear me, Lucas Strong?!" Michelle's voice went up an octave to shrill, and his yarn broke, along with what may have been his eardrums.

 

Dammit!

 

He looked down at the broken threads. Shit. That's what he got for pulling from the shop's most expensive stash. Still, he shouldn't be surprised over breaking the yarn, given how tightly his nerves had been wound lately. He gazed at the ripped fawn-colored cashmere threads and forcibly pushed to the back corner of his mind all ridiculous comparisons to his psyche and the way his life had been going. He felt his shoulders tense as his stomach tightened. Even the thought of going that deep made him cringe. Not to mention how his brothers would react to such melodrama. He shook his head. Just nope. His family had been through enough with the death of Mama Joy and then having to get the shop finally off cash-flow life support. And that was just barely. His brothers couldn't deal with their supposed "got it all together" brother falling apart.

 

Lucas stood and placed his needles on the wooden stool he'd been leaning against. He suspected the old stool was probably even older than he was. A heavyweight piece in a gorgeous pecan color, it was glossy from many years of wear and loving care, being in the same spot where Mama Joy used to perch herself behind the counter, where she could look out at the shop and through the plate glass window, with its ever-changing seasonal yarn displays, onto the busy avenue beyond.

 

It was still so hard to believe he was sitting in this spot and that she never would again.

 

Almost a year now and Lucas still expected to hear her booming laugh, see her ever-welcoming smile when he walked in the door. That unshakable disbelief was probably the real reason he'd gotten caught out there tonight and had been wrangled into closing the shop. Out of habit, he and his brothers rarely used the outside entrance to their residence above Strong Knits-not during the hours that the shop was open anyway.

 

From the moment they'd each been taken out of foster care and into Mama Joy's care, she'd trained them to always check in when they made it home, telling them that's what family did. They checked in before they checked out, reminding them that they were no longer alone and had people waiting on them. People watching for them.

 

Lucas continued to look out the window while losing himself in memories. Though things were winding down in the shop and the hour was growing late, you wouldn't know it by looking out on the busy Harlem street. So many people were rushing here and there, most with that happy, just-got-paid, Friday-night look of anticipation. Summer was still on, but the end-of-season wind-down was in effect, and the air was thick with the energy of folks wanting to get in last licks before they had to bundle up again and go back under cover of layers of clothes to ward off the winter chill.

 

Once again, Lucas took notice of Michelle out of his peripheral vision. Shit, when was she going to either make up her mind or leave? He knew he needed to be better. That it wasn't her fault, being a new knitter-and if it was as he suspected, she didn't really care about knitting at all. But that was neither here nor there. She was a customer and he needed to get himself in check no matter how hellish his week and no matter that he was dog-tired and wanted more than anything to be deep into REM sleep. Lucas ran a hand across his neck and gave it a rub, twisting against the tight knots of exhaustion that had now fused into lumps.

 

Sleep had been hard to come by on his thin mattress at the ladder house, and he hoped that being back home and in his own bed for the first time in five days would do the trick. Now he just had to get to his bed.

 

Lucas did a mental countdown to the official closing time while trying to figure out how to get rid of Michelle and still keep up a good enough customer service facade. They needed all the customers they could get, whether slightly irritating, stalky or whatever.

 

He knew he shouldn't complain; it was his own fault again for not asserting himself, for playing fast and loose with his Mr. Nice Guy act. Well, that and Kerry having him wrapped around her finger-both of which got him thrown into this coming year's "FDNY's Bravest: Turning Up the Heat" calendar. He'd been tapped for it when a news piece came out about him and his brothers taking over the shop, and Kerry latched on hard, going on about how it would be great publicity for the shop and could bring in more customers.

 

Though it was against his usual "last Boy Scout," all-around-good-guy type of image, once Kerry got behind the pitch it didn't take but a minute for the rest of the crew to go in with the hard sell. Jesse was all for anything that Kerry was for, and Noah couldn't get enough of the idea of Lucas squirming shirtless in front of the camera. And as for Damian, anything that brought in more revenue was a win to him.

 

Since the calendar had gone on sale, customers like Michelle, who maybe wouldn't have given him a glance a month ago, were now suddenly indecisive lingerers who couldn't seem to make up their minds when it came to yarn and had endless pins on Pinterest. No matter if they had never thought of picking up a needle, let alone knitting a scarf, before in their lives.

 

As he was thinking over his current predicament, Lucas continued to scan the block. The familiar night streetlights lulled him deeper into exhaustion, and as a response, his anxiety kicked up right along with it. Though he desperately wanted to sleep, he worried whether he actually could. His gaze started at the bodega on one corner and moved over the beauty and nail salon and past the brownstones and tenement entrances to the bright fluorescent wash of light that was the pink and turquoise neon sign that always pulled his attention.

 

Scrubs. The family-run laundromat was another neighborhood establishment, much like their knitting shop, and from what he'd heard from Mama Joy, it had been around even before her place. Not that that mattered to him all that much. What did matter was that it-no, she-had been drawing both his mind and his heart to that half-broke-down laundry for almost as long as he could remember. That was, until she'd left the neighborhood for the first and last time, leaving him with nothing but longing while she picked up a degree, then quickly went on to a fancy new house, a new man and even a new name.

 

Lucas closed his eyes against the pink lights and his admittedly useless thoughts.

 

"See, a real jerk. Call him cute, he doesn't respond. Call him a little shit, and he doesn't even respond to that." Snap. Snap. There were her fingers. Right up close to his face. Lucas felt his jaw tighten. He was trying. Trying really hard to be patient with Michelle. When she'd first come in, he'd pulled out hank after hank and bundle after bundle of yarn until he had the worktable practically covered, only to realize she wasn't paying any of his yarn suggestions a bit of attention, but just stalling while waiting for the other customers in the shop to leave.

 

He was a fool. What he needed to do was once and for all learn from the past instead of making stupid mistakes when it came to dumb things like patience and the benefit of the doubt. If the distracting lights of Scrubs and even his screwup at work this week had taught him anything, it should have been that. How often would he have to get hit over the head to know that patient nice guys don't end up anywhere but where he was-tired and alone?

 

2

 

Wash. Rinse. Spin. Repeat.

 

If only her life could be so simple. A little detergent. An hour of time. And voilˆ-squeaky clean. Add a nice dry and fluff, and the stink of the night before is all gone. Nothing left but the faint odor of a faded memory.

 

Sydney snorted to herself as she took a moment to imagine what it would be like to be able to perform that sort of magic on her life. Or the past third of her life at least? Quarter maybe? Her snort morphed into a sigh. Why the hell was she negotiating with the Universe over something completely unobtainable?

 

Earth to Syd, how's about you join us down here back on Earth with the rest of the thirty-year-old, tail-between-their-legs, suddenly-back-at-home-with-a-kid-but-no-husband-in-sight masses?

 

She blinked, letting the voice of reason bring her back from her momentary musings to the present and the hypnotic swirling of the extra-large washer. It currently held the dirty linens from Sweet Ginger, the new Southern-meets-Asian-fusion place that had opened in their little part of Harlem. It was an odd culinary choice, since Gerrard, Sweet Ginger's owner, seemed neither Asian nor Southern-according to his Midwestern accent, anyway.

 

She would give his new restaurant six months, maybe a year tops, since he'd chosen to open it only two doors down from Great Wall Express, the long-established Chinese takeout place. Though it held only two well-worn Formica booths that were bolted to the floor, it had been standing strong for as long as Sydney could remember and had seen more than its fair share of restaurants come and go.

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