Dickey (Liar's Game) shows a skillful hand once again with sensational relationships and heady sensuality in his lively fourth novel, another winner. Exploring the dynamics of a complex and emotive love triangle, he injects some autobiographical detail into the mix by making his unnamed protagonist and first-person narrator a popular L.A.-based African-American author. This author is riding the wave of a book-signing tour in Oakland, Calif., but is still reeling from the repercussions of being stood up at the altar by seven-year lover and secretly budding lesbian Nicole. The runaway bride abandons the ceremony for some much-needed self-exploration, and though she's still in love with her ex-fiancé, she quickly moves in with female lover Ayanna, a fiery, cynical attorney. A year later, Nicole gets busy alternating dates with both partners; this proves complicated and emotionally draining for all three. When they all finally come together, there is a dialogue-heavy, war of the roses–style battle for Nicole's heart (sandwiched between some particularly vigorous erotic play, Dickey-style). A tragic turn of events forces both Ayanna and the novelist to reexamine their narcissistic motivations and reconsider their capacity to love without limitations. The pace of this character-driven novel is unhurried, highlighting Dickey's celebrated contemporary vernacular, thinly veiled social commentary and comedic sarcasm. While his somewhat shallow emotional portrait of Nicole might not fully convince readers that she's worth all the trouble she causes, at the same time he manages to demonstrate just how blind and blissfully numbing true love can be. This is another spicy slice of African-American dramatic fiction from an author who seems only to get better. (July)
Forecast:Jacketed in the familiar, brightly colored Dickey style, this quality crowd-pleaser will leap off display tables. Chances are it'll hit bestseller lists early, given an extra boost by a 20-city author tour.