⭐de León, Aya. That Dangerous Energy. December 2022. 352p. Dafina.
This novel should come with a warning label: start this book at your own risk. It’s that suspenseful, that seductive. We meet our hero, Morgan Faraday, running through the NYC subway to escape from Sebastian, her ex-fiancé, and two armed rent-a-cops. How does love go so wrong? We then jump to ten months ago for the backstory that answers this question. Morgan—who identifies as Black, she has North African heritage via Moorish Spain, but is often assumed to be white—escaped from a poor Pennsylvania town for NYC and art school. A textile artist, she’s struggling when she meets billionaire Sebastian Reid, the CEO of one of the world’s largest energy companies. The answer to all of Morgan’s problems? Perhaps, but sleeping with a man you don’t love and barely find attractive is still work, and even with best friend Dashawna’s how-to-marry-a-millionaire advice, Morgan remains conflicted. Marrying white men for financial security, while necessary, was never a good decision for the women in her family. Worse, once she moves in with Sebastian, she discovers that his claim that his company is going green is just a façade, and he’s still responsible for several ecological disasters, with communities of color the most adversely affected. Encouraged by an oh-so-hunky environmental activist, Morgan begins to spy on Sebastian, recording his calls and filming his meetings. It’s incredibly anxiety-producing, and readers will be madly racing to the book’s surprising conclusion. Social commentary, feminism, racism, family history, courtroom drama, plenty of suspense, and a very hot love affair all come together for one powerful read.—Brian Kenney