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One Special Moment

Fire and Desire by Brenda Jackson
(Arabesque/BET, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 1-58314-024-7
Corinthians Elizabeth Avery, the only daughter of a Southern Baptist minister, was named after her father's favorite book(s) in the Bible. When Corinthians' character was introduced in Whispered Promises, Brenda Jackson's second novel, she was busy making plans to get to know Dexter Madaris in the biblical sense during an upcoming business trip.

Unknown to Corinthians, Dex and his wife Caitlin had recently reconciled after a four-year big misunderstanding. In a very funny scene, her attempt to seduce him was thwarted when Dex sent his good friend and second-in-command, Trevor Grant to replace him on the trip at the last minute.

For Corinthians, it was one of life's most embarrassing moments and for nearly two years, Trevor Grant has never let her forget it. She thinks he's arrogant. He thinks she's a potential home wrecker. To call the Avery-Grant association acrimonious is an understatement. But there is powerful sexual tension between them they can neither ignore nor deny.

In Corinthians' role as head geologist for Remington Oil and Trevor's as Madaris Explorations' head foreman, their paths often cross professionally. They meet in a social setting in Eternally Yours. At Clayton Madaris' wedding reception, Trevor caught the garter and Corinthians caught the bridal bouquet. Tradition holds they will be the next to get married.

Brenda Jackson's fifth novel, Fire and Desire, is their story. The title comes from the torchy 1981 love duet recorded by Rick James and Teena Marie (and later rerecorded by Cheryl Gordon of SVW and Johnny Gill). Fire and Desire begins approximately six weeks after the close of Eternally Yours and just prior to the start of One Special Moment.

Trevor and Corinthians are once again thrown together during a business trip. The two are assigned to attend an international oil research summit in Brazil. Not even the tropical heat can thaw Corinthians' attitude toward Trevor. Her attempts to avoid him hit a snag when she manages to get herself into a series of embarrassing or threatening situations and Trevor comes to her rescue.

Terrorists overrun the hotel in which the summit is being held and take hostages. Trevor once again saves Corinthians. He gets her safely out of the hotel and they escape into the Brazilian jungle where his special forces survival skills kick into overdrive...along with his feelings for Corinthians.

Loyal Brenda Jackson fans have waited two years for this book. Trevor and Corinthians are characters readers knew a great deal about and Jackson could have developed a very predictable romance. She didn't. Readers will not be disappointed. In Fire and Desire, the author took the chance and the challenge to create something familiar, yet different.

The action-adventure plot is logical, given what we have come to know about these two characters. Only the threat of death in unfamiliar surroundings could have forced Corinthians to spend any time with Trevor. Their time alone together affords them an opportunity to get to know, trust and acknowledge their love for each other.

This is a busy book. As a tribute to her fans, Jackson has managed to mention most of the characters in her earlier works. There are several subplots and a very sweet secondary romance. As in all Jackson novels, there is no shortage of eligible men...and women. As soon as one is mated, at least two more are introduced. Jackson novels are an armchair matchmaker's dream.

Fire and Desire is an excellent stand-alone romance. However, to get the full impact of the Madaris saga, I would recommend that new readers begin with the novella "Cupid's Bow," in A Valentine Kiss anthology, One Special Moment, Tonight and Forever, Whispered Promises, Eternally Yours and then Fire and Desire. (Jackson aficionadas will be quick to point out that this listing is somewhat out of order.) At the very least, readers should read Whispered Promises before Fire and Desire.

There's great news for Brenda Jackson fans. The wait for the next installment of the Madaris family and friends will be shorter this year. Jackson will reprise Trask Maxwell and Felicia Laverne from Whispered Promises for a novella in Arabesque's Christmas anthology. The long-awaited story of "Uncle Jake" Madaris and Diamond Swain is due to be released in February, 2000.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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