Cherish

Good Intentions

Masquerade

 
Love's Destiny
by Crystal Wilson-Harris
(Arabesque/BET, $6.99, PG) ISBN 1-58314-285-1
***
Savannah Raven-Dailey woke up one Saturday morning to find that her comfortable suburban Detroit existence had been turned on its axis. Her husband of seventeen years has quickly and quietly left his family for parts unknown. Dwayne Dailey has looted their bank accounts and taken the money, his clothes, his car and his new underwear with him. In a moment of self-deprecating humor, his shell-shocked wife noted that not only did he leave her with two questioning teenagers, angry employees, suppliers and empty bank accounts, he also left her "his raggedy underwear."

This was not to be Savannah's lot in life. The oldest of four sisters, she was the responsible one who held the family together after the deaths of her parents in an automobile accident caused by a drunk driver. Always the caretaker, she took care of her younger sisters. Savannah married Dwayne Dailey, a man who promised to, and until recently did, take care of everything. Savannah subjugated her college goal of a career in broadcasting to own a plumbing business with her husband. She took care of Dwayne and their two children. Dwayne controlled everything from their house and neighborhood to the furniture to her hairstyles. Suddenly, Savannah's life is literally in the toilets - if the employees don't take them and sell them off for back wages.

Once Savannah recovers from the initial shock of Dwayne's betrayal, she calls her sister Paris, who calls their sister Sydney. Locating Jakarta, the youngest sister, will take a bit more time. (No, the Raven sisters have no idea why they were named after cities.) While Savannah is ready to say good riddance to her husband, her sister Sydney suggests that Dwayne be found and made to account for leaving his family and employees in the lurch. Savannah reluctantly agrees and private investigator Anthony Martin is hired.

Locating Dwayne Dailey is not as easy as Anthony first thought. The case takes months. Dwayne has covered his tracks well. And, after meeting the family, clients and employees, the detective cannot understand why he left. But he will. In the meantime, Anthony must fight his growing attraction to his client.

The missing persons aspect of the story and the romance between Anthony and Savannah are pretty predictable. The fact that Anthony is ten years younger than Savannah, the same age as her youngest sister, adds nothing to the mix. In addition, Savannah's moment of truth is all too brief and unsatisfying.

The strength of the novel is in how the Raven sisters join forces when one of their own is in need. Each calls upon her particular internal and external resources to do what is necessary. Savannah is a very well defined character. She is a class act. Anthony is not as well fleshed out. In addition, Anthony and Savannah's relationship is actually a romance in progress and is secondary to the overall story. As a result, Love's Destiny, the first in what the author has promised to be The Raven Sisters: Women of Destiny series is rated a solid three.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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