cover image Real Deal

Real Deal

Margaret Johnson-Hodge. St. Martin's Press, $6.5 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-312-96488-7

For Johnson-Hodge, the ""real deal"" is real life: no fairy-tale endings and no getting rescued by the hero for a trip to Never-Never-Land, especially if the heroine is ""a sista from Harlem"" and the hero ""a silly-ass white boy."" The story of Samone Lewis, an African American personnel manager at a broadcasting company, and Jonathon Everette, a white TV producer from Malibu, Calif., is new territory in many ways. First of all, it's a grittier reality: Samone decides to have an abortion, something that's verboten in most romance novels (""I won't be a single parent with a boyfriend as the daddy. My momma raised me better""). She's a salty lady: she smokes, she masturbates, she likes sex and there's nothing coy about her. Samone has tried to make a go of it with Max, an African American bank executive, but Max doesn't want to commit. She fights her attraction to Jon; after all, she was a civil rights activist and her family doesn't hold with mixed-race relations. There are no pat answers here, only some messy real-life encounters, some fresh writing and an honest, recognizable heroine. (Mar.)