Gwynne Forster, Author . Kensington/Dafina $24 (288p) ISBN 978-1-57566-919-9

Making the switch from contemporary romance (Secret Desire) to mainstream African-American fiction, Forster reverses King Lear by giving the good youngest daughter the keys to the kingdom. Widowed matriarch Marge Hairston is the power behind the Woodmore Times, "North Carolina's most influential African-American newspaper." But when Marge becomes seriously ill, she must name a successor. Neither Drogan nor Cassie, her self-centered older children, wants the responsibility, so it falls to quiet Sharon to give up her own dreams in order to try to fill her mother's big shoes. No sooner does this happen than Drogan and Cassie become resentful of Sharon's new exalted position; and even though Marge isn't dead yet, they begin talking wills to make sure their pie pieces remain intact. Forster weaves a facile morality tale pitting the shallow against the virtuous: Drogan and Cassie cheat on their spouses, threatening their relationships; meanwhile, Sharon not only soars in her new career, she also embarks on a solid romance with a worthy man. Will Drogan and Cassie realize the many errors of their ways before it's too late? Unusually coy euphemisms for body parts render some of the sex scenes involuntarily humorous ("she took his rock-hard velvetlike steel and led him to her impatient portal") and the ratio of telling to showing is high throughout ("Sharon increased the pressure of her fingers as if to impress upon her mother the importance of her words"). Ultimately, it's all more treacly than edifying: if everyone doesn't quite live happily ever after by the end, their prospects look pretty good. (Feb. 5)

Reviewed on: 01/07/2002
Release date: 02/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 356 pages - 978-0-7582-0033-4
Hardcover - 487 pages - 978-0-7862-4284-9
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4498-8269-3
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