Tainted Destiny by Cheril N. Clarke (Aug. 2007 Pick of the Month)

Publisher/Date:  Dodi Press, Oct. 2006
Genre:  Romance
Pages:  254
Website:  http://www.cherilnclarke.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Face it—you’ve been Sadira before: a woman with a deep obsession for someone else. You’ve experienced it at least once, maybe twice in your lifetime.

That’s what makes TAINTED DESTINY, Cheril N. Clarke’s sequel to Intimate Chaos, so compelling. It’s the fact that as women we can relate so well to having that one person in our lives we can’t shake.

For Sadira, that person is her former lover, Jessie. Where things ended horribly between them in Chaos—complete with heartbreak and scandal—Destiny picks up with Sadira still nursing her wounds, but realizing that she has to get over the woman who could never completely offer her heart even after their many years together. Leaving their home in Miami to move back to New York, Sadira plans to rid herself of the pain, and finds she has many distractions to do so.

One is Brianna, a college student who offers Sadira a new outlook on life. Another is Olivia, a strong-willed chick who won’t take no for an answer. And another is Tricia, an old flame that becomes rekindled over time. It’s Tricia whom Sadira falls for, but memories of Jessie still plague her.

Sadira can’t let go of the past she shared with Jessie, even with a good woman like Tricia by her side. When she discovers Jessie is back in New York, it’s only a matter of time before they reach out again. Soon Sadira is torn—between the reciprocated of Tricia and the unrequited love of Jessie—and it’s up to her to figure out which one is her true destiny.

Tainted Destiny, simply put, is gripping. Clarke manages to unearth emotions that ring true and paints a true picture of a woman in love turmoil. With every page, you sink deeper into her despair. Just like with Intimate Chaos, you want smack some sense into her, while at the same time hug her when her pain gets unbearable. Though sometimes a bit wordy, Clarke is a writer who pulls you in and takes you there.

Cause love is a truly a battlefield—with complete with wounds to show for it.

Reviewed August 2007

The Aftermath by Anna J.

Publisher/Date:  Q-Boro Books, Sept. 2006
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Pages:  250
Website:  http://www.askannaj.com

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Crazy-ass Monica is back in THE AFTERMATH, the sultry sequel to My Woman His Wife.

In the previous book, married couple James and Jasmine Cinque realized too late that bringing Monica into their bedroom to spice up their sex life was a horrible mistake. The havoc she caused their lives was unbelievable, but in this new novel, Monica takes it to a whole new level of drama.

The Aftermath begins with Jasmine finding James in a compromising position with Monica, and it almost ends their relationship. And if things couldn’t get any worse, Monica finds out she’s pregnant with James’ baby, but she still wants Jasmine all to herself by any means. James and Jasmine simply want the broad out of their lives for good. It’s hard trying to put back together your family when there’s a determined woman hellbent on sabotage.

But you have to understand: Monica’s simply a misunderstood woman who’s endured a lot of pain in her life. Flashbacks in the novel take you to when Monica was a young girl antagonized by her classmates and raised by a lecherous uncle that took advantage of her. It’s these images that help you understand whom Monica is as a character.

All the destruction she’s caused is coming back to haunt her. Monica has more enemies than you can shake a stick at, and it’s only a matter of time before she feels some repercussions.

Anna J. does her thing in The Aftermath. The story was more credible than My Woman, and I was totally engrossed. You get to know the characters a little better; each one had his or her own distinct voice. And as always, the sex was steamy and plentiful.

However, there were some unanswered questions by the book’s end. I foresee a continuing story soon – one that I would most definitely welcome.

Reviewed August 2007

Breaking Jaie by S. Renee Bess

Publisher/Date:  Regal Crest Enterprises, May 2007
Genre: College Life, Romance
Pages:  212
Website:  http://www.reneebess.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

S. Renee Bess mixes a fine weave of love, pain and higher education in BREAKING JAIE, the compelling novel that chronicles the romance of two very different graduate students.

Jaie Baxter is a Ph.D. candidate with an overly confident attitude and a harrowing past. After witnessing her brother’s murder and living with a dysfunctional mother, she won’t allow anyone to get too close. That anguish, coupled with the heartache from the only woman Jaie has ever loved, proved only to propel her success as she grew into an exceptional student and a great writer — and top-notch player.

Until she meets Terez Overton one day in the English department office. Terez didn’t grow up rough like Jaie, instead living in the suburbs and enjoying the comforts of middle-class life. She’s never met someone like Jaie; the thought of beginning a relationship with someone so unlike herself tells Terez to proceed with caution, especially once she gets wind of Jaie’s gigolo tendencies.

S. Renee Bess put her foot in Breaking Jaie, with its concoction of love and suspense. There are plot twists thrown in to keep you guessing. Bess, the author of Leave of Absence, pleasantly surprised me with the contemporary tone of the book; the maturity of the characters will please both young and older readers. Bess has managed to do it again with this one, and manages to keeps me patiently waiting for the next.

Reviewed August 2007

Complete by S.D. Lewis

Publisher/Date:  AuthorHouse, Oct. 2006
Genre:  Romance
Pages:  136

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

An aptly titled story, COMPLETE thoroughly fulfills the promise fashioned from author S. D. Lewis’ two previous novels, Changes and Moving Forward in Reverse.

Here, Lewis crafts a simple love story. It begins with Angela, an unhappily married woman in a dysfunctional relationship. Only married a year, her manipulative husband cheats, lies and disrespects her. She tires of being in a loveless relationship, and decides to do something about it.

The other voice of Complete is Moe, the womanizing stud from Lewis’ earlier books. She’s moved from Atlanta to Jacksonville and has returned to her player roots after Jasmine, the only woman to ever claim Moe’s heart, betrayed her. It’s ho after ho for Moe, until a vacation back the ATL allows her to run into Angela.

Angela and Moe have a lusty past, one that ended when Moe gave her heart Jasmine. After seeing each other, the two reconnect, but is Moe willing to take a second chance on love?

Lewis’ Complete does conclude quite nicely. It’s good to see Moe become a more mature person, especially after all the dirt she did in Changes and Moving Forward. The novel also includes previous characters Jasmine, Lelani and L.D. in different but supporting roles. In this story, Moe takes center stage. Although the story does wrap up quick in less than 150 pages, it’s satisfying nonetheless.

Simply put, the trilogy is Complete.

Reviewed August 2007