STORY: In this vivid re-imagining of the French classic Les Liaisons Dangereuses, it’s the summer when Jackie Robinson breaks Major League Baseball’s color barrier and a sweltering stretch has Harlem’s elite fleeing the city for Westchester County’s breezier climes. But there two predators stalking amidst the manicured gardens and fine old homes.
Heiress Mae Malveaux rules society with an angel’s smile and a heart of stone. She made up her mind long ago that nobody would decide her fate. To have the pleasure she craves, control is paramount, especially control of the men Mae attracts like moths to a flame.
Valiant Jackson always gets what he wants—and he’s wanted Mae for years. The door finally opens for him when Mae strikes a bargain: seduce her virginal young cousin, Cecily, who is engaged to Frank Washington. Frank values her innocence above all else. If successful, Val’s reward will be a night with Mae.
But Val secretly seeks another prize. Elizabeth Townsend is fiercely loyal to her church and her civil rights attorney husband. Certain there is something redeemable in Mr. Jackson. Little does she know that her most unforgivable mistake will be Val’s greatest triumph.
REVIEW: What made me request this book was its author’s name and the title. I’m always on a lookout for new to me authors, so I went for it not bothering to read the story blurb.
Having never read the original Dangerous Liaisons book, but having seen the film, I was very intrigued and wanted to see what this author has to offer and how she’d make this her own story.
This was an unexpected surprise and a joy to read. This story was “modernized” and the author moved from 1782 original year to 1947, and instead of French society of the 18th century, we are introduced to the mid-century upper class African American society. And while there are vast differences between the two societies, there are many similarities as well.
I’ve never been to any of the locations the author brings to life, from New York’s Harlem to North Carolina, but the picture the author paints of those locations came vividly to life in my minds eye.
I thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful array of characters, from the manipulative Mae Malveaux, to irresistible Valiant Jackson; from innocent Cecily to the uptight Elizabeth. Every character we meet feels real and relatable and for the lack of a better word, human and flawed.
The pace was perfect as well. It moved at a fast clip when it had to and slowed when it needed to.
But in the end it’s the prose that surprised me the most. It was uplifting, and flawless and magical.
She felt the wetness of him between her thighs and considered her body – she’d never known it was capable of such pleasure. And yet when she reached the moment of its peak, when her body felt so full of electricity she thought it would burst into tiny pieces of light to be absorbed into the earth, it seemed obvious the body, divinely designed as it was, would have such potential. This Physical aspect of love made her feel human – she didn’t know how she would have described herself before, but now she was freshly human, walking in Eden with her eyes open in awe and wonder of what she sensed of the world.
***** ***** *****
When she reached the pinnacle of this exquisite ache she felt herself burst open like a bag of sugar…
***** ***** *****
The heart was never satisfied with a little bit of caring. It was a greedy lump of muscle, quick to feast on the tiniest morsel of sincere admiration. But once the heart has consumed admiration, it always wanted more–demanded more.
***** ***** *****
If you’re searching for a new author and a solid, well written novel (over 500 pages) filled with complex characters, an intriguing plot and magical prose, then this story is for you.
Melanie for b2b
Gift ARC provided by the publisher