Dark Interlude

Impetuous by Dianne Mayhew
(Arabesque/BET, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 1-58314-043-3
Impetuous is not a romance novel. It is a talk show waiting to air.

Twenty-year-old Liberty Sutton thought she had discovered a real-life Prince Charming in 34-year-old Anthony Anderson. He wined her and dined her and said all the right things. They made mad, passionate love. But Cinderella Liberty's mice turned to dragons once she told the prince she was pregnant. He quickly reverted to his former frog state. Anthony confessed that he was married and denied that the child could be his.

Liberty is determined to go it alone. Hurt gives way to anger and the impetuous Liberty decides to call Anthony's wife to tell her of their affair and of her pregnancy. Quicker than you can say "Jerry Springer," the well-heeled Mrs. Anderson and her mother show up on Liberty's doorstep. The mother-daughter tag team alternate between name calling and threatening to go on the talk shows to denounce Liberty and asking if they can raise her unborn child.

Liberty goes into premature labor on the spot and her lover's wife and mother-in-law come to her aid. Liberty gives birth to a son whom she names Jamal. She is tricked into signing papers that give her son over to the Andersons. And that's just the first three chapters.

Nearly three years after Jamal's birth, Liberty's life descends into a life of excesses. The reader is forced to witness her self-destructive relationships. She eventually takes a job as a secretary and has caught the eye of the boss. However, Liberty has set her cap for Jarrett Irving and doesn't stop until she gets him. But the divorced Jarrett has his own baggage to deal with.

This is Dianne Mayhew's third novel. Her first, and best book to date, is Playing for Keeps. It has been selected for an Arabesque/BET movie sometime next year. Her second book, Dark Interlude is, like Impetuous, straight out of the daytime talk show circuit.

Impetuous is an extremely predictable melodrama. it is further plagued by an inordinate amount of editing gaffes. Problems with verb tenses, subject-verb agreement and the misuse of the various forms of "affect" and "effect" abound. In addition, I found the author's use of the vernacular narrative style irritating.

Most of the characters shift from unbelievable to just plain annoying -- particularly the heroine. Her impetuousness is not endearing, nor is it instructive.

The talk show tone of the novel makes the anger in the book leap from the pages. But this is a r-o-m-a-n-c-e. And "it's all about love," isn't it?

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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