Love in a Carry-On Bag is Sadeqa Johnson's debut novel. Johnson is a former public relations manager and is currently a managing partner of the 12th Street Press publishing company.
Sexy, smart, and driven, successful publicist Erica Shaw loves spending time with her equally sexy boyfriend, Warren Prince - an intelligent and aspiring jazz musician by night, and computer engineer by day. When she can manage to escape her demanding job at a major publishing company, Erica meets up with Warren as much as time permits; however, living in New York City often presents difficulty attending dates and rendezvous with Warren, especially since Warren lives hours away in Washington, D.C.
Desperately in love with one another, but dedicated to their professional dreams and lives, Erica and Warren often experience frequent lover's quarrels, communication breakdowns, and lots of time apart as they each cope with other challenges in their personal and professional lives.
As time passes, Erica and Warren must find the time in their respective, busy lives to evaluate and rearrange their priorities, especially if they want to remain a couple.
Love in a Carry-On Bag is an engaging read because it's real, and incredibly easy to relate to. Although this novel falls into the contemporary/urban romance genre, there are no goofy sub-plots or melodrama that appear outlandishly fiction, and this is why I think the book is charming and sweet. Any reader who has experience with relationships, regardless of whether they have been long-distance or not, will understand and relate to the problems Erica and Warren each face regarding their emotional, and physical, distances from one another.
Johnson switches between Erica and Warren's point of views throughout Love in a Carry-On Bag, providing us with an up-close and personal perspective on the challenges each character faces. What I enjoy most about Love in a Carry-On Bag is the way each character feels familiar, and the way each handles their very real-life series of crises to the best of their ability. Neither character is perfect and mature 100% of the time, which makes them even more real and endearing.
Johnson's writing really comes to life in chapter 3, entitled "Publicity 101," which is about 20 or so pages into Love in a Carry-On Bag. This particular chapter describes a full day's work for Erica at her publishing company, and in addition to revealing much about Erica's background and interests, reveals Johnson's enthusiasm for her own craft - reading and writing. With the major change in Johnson's flow beginning in chapter 3, you'll most likely be indefinitely hooked from that point forward.
Given that Love in a Carry-On Bag primarily focuses on the tribulations of long-distance romance, Johnson writes the settings of D.C. and New York appropriately vivid and descriptive, which magnifies the intensity of Erica and Warren's convincing story. Johnson also makes great use of pop-culture, jazz, and literary references throughout the novel to please and entertain a wide array of readers.