I Promise

Love's Deception

My Destiny

Say You Love Me

Comfort of a Man
by Adrianne Byrd
(Arabesque/BET, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 1-58314-428-5
Comfort of a Man, Adrianne Byrd’s ninth Arabesque novel, follows the author’s exceptionally strong showing in My Destiny.

Comfort of a Man chronicles the romance between Austin businessman Isaiah Washington and Atlanta real estate agent Brooklyn Douglas. It shares its title with the 1984 Stephanie Mills song.

Brooklyn (yes, her father was a Dodgers’ fan) and her college friends are in New York for their annual Christmas outing. Brooke’s friends are a likeable quartet who live in other cities. However, they believe their divorced, single-mom buddy needs to loosen up a little. During dinner someone suggests that Brooke have “an adventure,” a fling. Brooke laughs at her friends and reminds them that a trip to Africa is an adventure “playing Russian roulette with STDs” is not. As they leave the restaurant on their way to the theater, they encounter Isaiah Washington. Brooke catches his eye.

As can only happen in fiction, Isaiah and Brooke are staying in the same New York hotel. Later that night, they run into each other in the bar. One thing leads another and Brooke uncharacteristically makes him an offer he can’t refuse. After a steamy one-night stand, not even Brooke or her friends could have imagined, she leaves Isaiah the next morning with nothing but a first name and a memory.

Six months pass and Brooke and Isaiah literally run into each other during a fender-bender in Atlanta. Isaiah is in town for a family emergency and is elated to see Brooke again. She, on the other hand, is mortified. She initially accuses him of stalking her. They exchange information at the accident scene and he finally learns her last name. After several humorous scenes that illustrate how small the world in a novel can be, Isaiah breaks down Brooke’s defenses and she agrees to seem him again. He is looking for permanence, Brooke is not. As a result, a big misunderstanding gets in the way of great sex.

Byrd’s creative plotting reverses the normal romantic course. Here, the characters are forced to get to know each other after they have already consummated their non-relationship. It is funny to watch Brooke and Isaiah adhere to the period of abstinence he has insisted on. While Comfort of a Man is a must read, the difference between a four- and five-heart rating is the inclusion of some predictable characters – the jealous ex-husband, the obstinate teenager and the shrewish home wrecker. To her credit, Byrd’s story makes their presence understandable and their scenes are kept to a minimum.

Adrianne Byrd writes credible main characters. However, her strength is in her secondary characters who are multi-dimensional people. They give needed support to the main characters without getting in the way. They give readers definition as to who they are without clamoring to have books of their own. In addition, Byrd is one of the few authors who includes gay characters who provide more than comic relief. They have interesting lives of their own and do not pander to stereotypes.

Comfort of a Man continues the creative storytelling Adrianne Byrd displayed in My Destiny. I strongly recommend it.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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