Victoria Christopher Murray, Author . Touchstone $14 (464p) ISBN 978-0-7432-5567-7

This is not your mother's faith fiction. Murray knows how to make the sex scenes sizzle in her latest novel about Christians and the power of forgiveness. African-American couple Grace and Conner Monroe have had a bumpy life together: Grace once had an on-again, off-again affair, but she and her husband have rebuilt their marriage with love and prayer. Now, with Grace newly elected to the Los Angeles city council, it seems their life together has never been better. "...They'd danced through their storms, and now their future was clear of any clouds." But then Conner reveals that he was unfaithful years ago with his now-dying former assistant, and their adolescent son, Solomon, needs a father and a home. In the midst of her disillusionment, Grace must also deal with her 15-year-old daughter Jayde's rebellion and with Grace's competitive sister, Mabel (aka Starlight), whose career as a charlatan motivational speaker is catapulting her to fame and fortune. The plot (illegitimate child comes to light years later and threatens Christian marriage) is shopworn, but Murray (Temptation ; Joy ) is a competent writer who knows how to give it fresh zing. One scene is especially memorable: Starlight and her lover, Lexington, have sex while Starlight chats breathlessly on the phone with a pastor she contemplates later seducing. Grace's battle with forgiveness and her dilemma about opening her heart to Conner's son—and to her spiritually lost, power-hungry sister—makes even this too-long novel an enjoyable read. Agent, Elaine Koster . (July)

Reviewed on: 05/03/2004
Release date: 06/01/2004
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