Between Friends

Family Affair

Serenade by Sandra Kitt
(Arabesque/BET, $5.99, PG) ISBN 1-58314-204-5
Many romance readers know about Sandra Kittís interracial romances and her anthology work in Sisters and Girlfriends. However, many are not aware of her role as the first known African-American author published by Harlequin or as one of the first authors to be published by the Arabesque line.

It has been a busy year for Sandra Kitt. Earlier this year, she was nominated (with co-authors Anita Richmond Bunkley and Eva Rutland) for an NAACP Image Award.. The writers were honored in Los Angeles for their work in the Girlfriends anthology, which TRR has reviewed. Later in the year, Kitt received a RT Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in the genre. Now, Arabesque/BET Books is reissuing Serenade, Sincerely and Suddenly, the three novels Kitt wrote to help launch the line.

Serenade, the first of the three, is the second-chance love story of musicians Alexandra Morrow and Parker Harrison.

When Serenade begins, it has been ten years since the two have seen each other. Alexandra was a promising nineteen-year-old music student and Parker, who had been a child prodigy, was a successful composer-musician. The two met as neighbors who lived in the same apartment building. Alex was smitten with the older, accomplished musician. Parker and Alex became friends and, later lovers.

However, Parker left New York to go on tour without her. Alex was devastated. She returned to her fatherís home. Alex abandoned her dreams of performing and of a life with Parker. Nearing 30, she has helped her widowed father raise her high-spirited sister and has become a music teacher.

The reunion between Parker and Alex takes place at the wedding of mutual friends. Alex has blossomed in the past decade and, at first, Parker doesnít recognize her. He offers her a ride to the reception and later takes her home. They have a chance to talk for the first time since their parting. But there is no conversation only anger from Alex. Parker is determined to find out why she is so bitter.

Obviously, there was a big misunderstanding along the way. On the way to resolution and the HEA, the couple must deal with Alexís shot at the big time, illness and Alexís gorgeous and spoiled baby sister, Christine. (Christine gets her comeuppance in another reissued romance, Suddenly.)

First released in 1994, Serenade is a back-to-basics romance. There are no surprises, no smoke and mirrors. Itís simple, boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-girl fare. Kittís characters are utilitarian. There is no wasted dialogue. Secondary characters play well against the heroine and hero.

Parker and Alexandra are suitably matched. However, the difference in their ages and experiences may account for his reserved nature. He is a man of very few words. I found that fascinating and also frustrating. I often gathered there was more going on with his character, but Kitt and Parker played his cards very close to the vest.

Serenade and its spin off, Suddenly are recommended for those who appreciate a basic romance and for those who would like to explore the range of Sandra Kitt's writing career.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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