LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH

James Earl Hardy, Author . HarperCollins/Amistad $22.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-621248-7

Hardy continues his noteworthy B-Boy Blues series with this enjoyable if cursory fourth entry, again focusing on the resilient bonds of friendships, the durability of long-standing unions, and the theory and practice of monogamy. Raheim "Pooquie" Rivers has said good-bye for now to his long-time "beaufriend," Mitchell "Little Bit" Crawford, to chase stardom in Hollywood with the expectation that when he returns, his relationship will still be intact. But between sexy, spicy phone calls from Raheim, Mitchell finds himself reveling in the attentions of a variety of other men, like police detective Rippington, whom he meets in a restaurant, and Skye, a frisky teenaged supermarket cashier. Mitchell tries to resist, but falls hard for hot-bodied jazz singer (and UPS man) Montgomery "Montee" Simms. Though Montee freely admits to having bisexual tendencies, Mitchell's crush persists and a fevered union ensues, with no regrets on either side. The light story line is generously studded with slangy vernacular and a host of barbed, campy one-liners, especially during the warm and wicked gay-friends-as-surrogate-family gatherings. A well-documented "soundtrack" (Hardy knows his music) and scenes with Pooquie's young son lend a soft glow to the story. But the playful plot is too often burdened with dogmatic points Hardy seems determined to drill into the heads of his readers. Opinions on subjects ranging from race relations and African-American politics to biased cops and society's view of bisexuality constantly pop up and rob the novel of its intended buoyancy. Comparisons to E. Lynn Harris are inevitable, though more for characterization and slick jacket art than for writing quality and readability. (June)

Reviewed on: 06/10/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-06-051239-2
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-06-227944-6
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