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Indiscretions by Donna Hill
(Genesis Press, $8.95, PG-13) ISBN 1-885478-37-2
****
Recent Donna Hill fans will probably remember Khendra Phillips and Sean Michaels as married attorneys in her immensely popular 1995 novel, Scandalous. The dynamic legal duo were law partners in a firm with that novel's hero, Justin Montgomery. There was another Khendra and Sean sighting earlier this year in A Private Affair when they represented Quinn Parker in a wrongful death suit against the New York City police department.

But long-time Donna Hill fans know that the Khendra Phillips-Sean Michael partnership began seven years ago in Indiscretions. Prior to reissue by Genesis Press, Indiscretions and Hill's first novel, Rooms of the Heart, had been out of print for several years. Both book currently are available. They are a recommended addition to any Donna Hill aficionado's collection.

When Indiscretions begins, Khendra Phillips is an associate with the Atlanta-based law firm of McMahon, Counts and Perry (MCP). Khendra is the first Black female attorney hired in the firm's 104-year history. She has learned from experience that MCP not only stands for the firm's name but its male chauvinist philosophy.

Khendra is a highly respected criminal attorney who has handled several high-profile cases, has an impressive record of never having lost a case, and has brought in millions of dollars in revenue to the firm. Her style and personality has caused several skirmishes with the partners. Alex Counts, a powerful senior partner insinuates that he might facilitate her chance at a junior partnership with the firm for a little quid pro quo. The final blow comes when Khendra is sidestepped for an assignment on a major case in favor of Sean Michaels, a new attorney brought in from New York.

Khendra's resolve not to like Sean disintegrates shortly after their first meeting. There is a personal connection between the two that is strengthened by their short-lived marriages to toxic spouses. But their relationship is strained by professional rivalries and personal insecurities.

Summarizing a Donna Hill novel is always a challenge. Things are not always as they seem. Indiscretions is no exception. There are plot twists galore and a murder mystery to solve. The characterization is flawless. Main characters, secondary characters and walk-ons are handled with care. The relationship between the two main characters develops naturally and is never sideswiped by the other plot elements.

I particularly liked her plotting of the trial scenes. Pertinent information is revealed without bogging down the story or the romance.

Donna Hill has recently changed the emphasis of her work toward social issues. The re-release of Indiscretions will give new fans an opportunity to put the body of her work into context. While the emphasis has shifted, the basic elements of a good Donna Hill novel were evident, even the early stages of her career.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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