cover image TRUE LIES


Margaret Johnson-Hodge, . . Dafina, $24 (320pp) ISBN 978-1-57566-917-5

An African-American woman gets more—and less—than she bargains for as she falls for a man with a child in the latest romantic drama from Johnson-Hodge (Some Sunday; Butterscotch Blues). When accountant Dajah Moore meets corrections officer Rick Trimmons, the attraction is instant. There's just one problem: Gina Alexander, the mother of Rick's four-year-old daughter, Kanisha. For Kanisha's sake, Rick still lives with irresponsible, hard-partying Gina, who is several years his junior. His feelings for Dajah spur him to end the relationship, but things don't exactly go smoothly from there. Dajah and Rick argue constantly, and unemployed Gina is a relentless irritant—manipulating, blackmailing and stealing from Rick, using Kanisha as her trump card against him. Then he devises a scheme to purchase a two-family home so that he can be closer to his daughter; of course, once they move in (Rick downstairs, Gina and Kanisha up), it's a complete disaster, and Dajah finds herself running out of ways to "deflect the drama." When Gina gets arrested and loses custody of Kenisha, she resolves to better herself, but her renewal could be what finally forces Rick and Dajah apart. Despite clichéd prose, much of it devoted to the woes of supporting characters, Johnson-Hodge moves easily and realistically between the middle-class world of Rick and Dajah and the seedier realm in which Gina operates. More importantly, she has created characters that, despite their flaws, readers will actually care about. (Oct.)

Forecast: Johnson-Hodge's popularity continues to grow. Audiences tired of shallow buppie antics will respond favorably to the earthy dramas she describes. National advertising; author tour.