Kayla Perrin, Author . St. Martin's $24.95 (352p) ISBN 0-312-28290-7

A secret from the past disrupts the lives of four women in a meandering, tepid mystery/romance from the prolific Perrin (Flirting with Danger; Sweet Honesty; etc.). The novel centers on former Howard University sorority sisters—"Jessica, the shy, private one; Ellie, the party girl who lived for dating and a good time; Yolanda, the strong one who didn't take crap from nobody; and Shereen, sexy and sociable, considered by many as some type of goddess." Now 30 and living in the Washington, D.C., area, they are all (for the most part) successful and happy: Jessica hosts a morning talk show; Ellie is an aspiring actress; Shereen is a vice-president at her father's graphic design firm; and Yolanda is a lawyer. But trouble surfaces when Jessica starts receiving mysterious and increasingly threatening letters that refer to an affair she had back in college with Andrew Bell, a handsome professor. When Jessica found out she was pregnant and that Andrew was married, the girls decided to fabricate an accusation of rape to punish him. It worked all too well: Andrew committed suicide. Only the four girls were in on the secret, so who is sending the letters? Thrown into the mix are secrets and betrayals (both old and new) among friends, lovers and family members. Readers will not find a single inspired idea or turn of phrase ("At this rate, she was destined for an early grave before the clock struck midnight"), and the book could easily have been cut by at least 100 pages. It is laced with tedious romantic subplots, extraneous family drama, banal dialogue and useless details rendered in a lackluster style that is all tell and no show. Author tour. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/22/2001
Release date: 10/01/2001
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