Love Unveiled by Gloria Greene
(One World/Ballantine Indigo Love Stories, $4.99, PG)
ISBN: 0-345-42223-6
****
It was love at first sight.

Photographer and art director Julia Hart was intrigued by restaurateur Brad Coleman when she picked him out of a group shot sent by her younger sister, Samantha. Samantha is the supermodel, Sammi, who lives in Paris. For more than a year, she'd been chattering on about her friend, Brad.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, Brad's photograph spoke volumes to Julia. "His eyes held Julia" and what they said to her was so sensual she had to hide his picture in her lingerie drawer. The picture was overwhelming, but she wasn't prepared for the impact of their face-to-face meeting. She was attracted to a man she assumed was her sister's lover.

"Sam never mentioned that this was a serious relationship --- but does one bring a man from France just attend a big backyard party?"

Apparently one does Particularly if matchmaking is on the agenda. Samantha has also been enthralling Brad with stories about her big sister Julia. He seized on an opportunity to meet her in person.

Surrounded in Paris by "false friends and plastic fortune hunters," Brad befriended Samantha theirs is a big brother/little sister relationship. Brad has come to the Hart family reunion in Virginia, "been given the once-over by the aunts and uncles and approved." (It makes Brad sound like a credit card purchase, doesn't it?)

Once the misunderstanding about which Hart sister is the object of Brad's affections is cleared up, Brad and Julia begin a whirlwind affair. They both live in New York and spend every possible moment together. Their happiness is short-lived when Brad's insecurities surface.

Brad's first wife was a beautiful, selfish woman who lived to party. One night she was on the way to drop her two children off at her mother's so she could go to a party. She lost control of the car she was driving. Neither she nor the children survived the crash. Brad was devastated by the loss of his children and has vowed never to get involved with beautiful, game-playing women like his ex-wife. Julia is unaware of this chapter in Brad's life and its impact on him.

I really enjoyed Love Unveiled, primarily for its level-headed female characters. Sammi is not a vacuous mannequin. She's put serious thought about life after the runways and has made plans to begin her career-deferred college education. Samantha and Julia's relationship is one of mutual respect and trust. They are best friends and sisters. Samantha loves Julia and Brad and tells them both that she will refuse to take sides between them. Julia is focused. She loves Brad, but will not be victimized by his jealousies and insecurities. Other secondary characters Mrs. Hart, Sammi and Julia's mother; their cousin Carolyn and Brad's ex mother-in-law are realistically drawn.

Love Unveiled is the first novel by Gloria Greene, the pen name of Arabesque writer Doris Johnson. (Her most recent work is a very good short story called "Father at Heart"in Man of the House, Arabesque's Father's Day anthology.) Written in 1996, Love Unveiled was first published by Genesis Press. It has been reissued by One World/Ballantine as part of Random House's entry into the multicultural romance market.

Love Unveiled is proof that you can't always judge a book by its cover or at least not by its cover notes. The blurb on the back cover would lead readers to believe that Love Unveiled is the story of a romantic triangle, sibling rivalry between two sisters over a man. Nothing is further from the truth. Love Unveiled is a story about misunderstandings and second chances. It's a good read that has sent me to Doris Johnson's backlist and anticipating her new book this fall.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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