Good Intentions
by Crystal Wilson-Harris
(Arabesque/BET, $5.99, PG) ISBN 1-58314-154-5
Crystal Wilson-Harris’ Good Intentions is the first of what I hope are many pleasant surprises during the new year. The author’s fifth novel is a light romantic comedy that utilizes a flair for humor she displayed in The Art of Love. It’s a nice story about love and friendship.

Everyone, especially Ivy Daniels’ mother, thinks Chicago banker Keith Jamison is “a good catch.” The novel begins on what is to be Keith and Ivy’s first day of married life together. Ivy discovers, albeit belatedly, that she cannot go through with “being a wife just because everybody wanted me to be a bride.” Apparently more thought has been given to Ivy and Keith’s wedding than to their marriage. The bride is in the church seeking divine intervention from the porcelain god. Her mother is anxious for the retching to stop and for the wedding to begin. The organist is cued to begin the wedding march.

But faster than anyone can say “Here Comes the Bride,” Ivy makes a beeline for the exit and with a couple dollars she was able to get from her father heads to the closest elevated train station. Ivy is clearly a damsel in distress in dire need of a knight in shining armor. Improvisation is the order of the day. So high school teacher Benjamin J. Stephens, an ersatz knight in a shining “L” train, will have to do. After unsnagging her veil and untangling her dress from the train, Ben offers to help her get home. Of course, Ivy’s keys and purse are back at the church. “I could just march back into the church, my dress torn to shreds, and explain that no, I haven’t changed my mind . . . I just forgot my keys.”

Ben extends his service as a knight to break into Ivy’s apartment to let her in and offering to take her to the baseball game. So, while her family and groom are still at the church during what should be her wedding reception, Ivy and Ben are in Wrigley Field. (This is truly a work of fiction because the Cubs won the game!) Ivy inevitably has to face the music for “making the right decision, the wrong way.” Ben offers her support and friendship as the confrontations with her family, fiancé and friends begin.

Keith is dogged in his determination that he and Ivy will be married. To give Ivy time to come to her senses, he goes alone on their honeymoon to Maui - although one of her best friends and bridesmaids did offer to keep him company. His persistence in getting Ivy to reconsider almost takes on a life of its own. It almost seems as if he wants to marry her to punish her for humiliating him at the altar.

While Keith is on his honeymoon, Ben and Ivy go to the Taste of Chicago and spend more time together. Although Ben acknowledges that Ivy has “issues,” he is intrigued by a woman “who gets a tattoo, runs out on her wedding and yet hesitates to defy the simplest rules like eating dessert first.”

Good Intentions is an enjoyable lighthearted romantic comedy. Crystal Wilson-Harris’ story underscores the belief that the happily-ever-after is attainable. The author takes her time realistically developing the relationship between Ben and Ivy over the course of a year. The chemistry between the main characters is excellent. Sexual tension provided by their “friendship” is credible. There are a couple interesting plot twists and I liked the secondary characters - particularly Ivy’s quartet of bridesmaids and Ben’s close-knit suburban Chicago family. However, the murky resolution of Ivy’s relationship with her former fiancé and the closing scenes of the novel were the weakest sections of Good Intentions.

Comedy is such a visual medium. As I read Good Intentions I couldn’t help thinking how much I would like to see it as a movie. While I couldn’t quite picture the pompous Keith Jamison, I’ve decided that Terrance Howard and Monica Calhoun, both of “The Best Man” would be my choices to play Ben and Ivy.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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