Books by Anita Richmond Bunkley

BALANCING ACT by Anita Richmond Bunkley
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 15, 1997

Bunkley (Starlight Passage, 1996, etc.) has toned down her tendency toward purple prose, but, ironically, while the writing's vastly improved in this new outing, the plot could use some livening up. Elise Jeffries and her husband Blake have been through some hard times; ever since Elise lost her hospital p.r. job in a scandal, the couple has struggled financially and emotionally. Now, however, when Elise gets an opportunity to be the media spokesperson for ScanTron Security International, a company based in her hometown of Flatwoods, Texas, the tide appears to be turning for the better—until the massive ScanTron complex explodes in flames, and the townspeople, some of whom were injured in the fire, want answers and want them now. Was the company complex, as seems increasingly likely, housing toxic chemicals? To Elise's frustration, Al Patterson, the surly, seemingly racist and outspokenly sexist manager of the ScanTron site, won't provide pertinent information to anyone, least of all Elise. And while vain, handsome TV reporter Carlos Rico gets on Elise's case, harassing her for answers in an attempt to boost his own profile, her parents, her best childhood friend, Damita, and all of her old acquaintances in town say can't understand why she's working for the enemy. When it appears that ScanTron's been keeping some deadly secrets, threatening those that Elise loves most, her crisis of conscience, troubled marriage, and spotted past are all brought to the forefront, causing her to make hard decisions that will alter the course of many lives. Fast-moving and realistic, though readers will wish that Bunkley had found ways of tempering all its somber business with other kinds of liveliness in characters and events. (Author tour) Read full book review >
STARLIGHT PASSAGE by Anita Richmond Bunkley
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 28, 1996

A spirited historical tour with bestselling Bunkley's customary tablespoon of sugar (Black Gold, 1994, etc.): The facts go down easily enough, but the lavender prose leaves a bit of a headache. Kiana Sheridan is a bright and attractive young woman with a single-minded purpose: To uncover the mysteries of her African- American heritage while in simultaneous pursuit of her Ph.D in history. When she leaves behind her comfortable high-school teaching job, her dead-end relationship (to an unambitious Gulf War vet), and her entire former life in Houston, Kiana doesn't look back; once in Washington, D.C., she begins recovering her family history by first learning all she can about her great-great grandfather, an escaped slave and the talented glass artist whose work has only recently become the enthusiastic focus of collectors. But there are obstacles standing between Kiana and her doctoral dissertation/pilgrimage: stepsister Ida, a con artist who was once jailed for credit card fraud, has reasons of her own for interfering with Kiana's goals (sheer greed being the primary motivation), and Kiana's own beloved grandmother Hester seems determined to bury the past forever. With the help of photojournalist Rex Tandy (the handsome, sensitive tour guide of the Underground Railroad Tour Kiana plans to take to launch her research) and a wise, maternal woman named Portia, Kiana eventually uncovers the dramatic truths of her ancestry—and also discovers her true inheritance. What befalls the conniving, hapless Ida, and the relationship that develops between Kiana and Rex, gives the narrative a necessary pace and tension; some of the discussions of reparations (regaining what whites have taken from blacks during the long history of slavery) is confusedly ambivalent—Kiana seems at first an unequivocal advocate but later bemoans the ``personal expense'' required of the mission to reclaim. Bunkley continues to overwrite, but, still, this is her best work to date. (Author tour) Read full book review >
WILD EMBERS by Anita Richmond Bunkley
Released: Feb. 13, 1995

No wild embers in this tearjerker about breaking color barriers during WW II. Bunkley (Black Gold, 1994) writes with a stiff dignity that's better at detailing social history than sparking drama. Janelle Roy has everything going for her. Young, bright, and pretty, she's got a good job as the private-duty nurse for a wealthy white woman in Columbus, Ohio. She seems well on her way to the privileged future she has mapped out for herself, with little care for the problems of her race. But all her plans are smashed when her patient dies, and Janelle is accused of neglecting her duty. When she can't find another nursing job, Janelle enlists in the Army Nurse Corps, stationed in Tuskegee, Ala., which is admitting a small number of black personnel. Meanwhile, Janelle's younger brother Perry is helping the NAACP to integrate defense plants. Angry and alienated, he hates the idea of a segregated army. When he's drafted, he's sent to a camp in Louisiana, where the fact that he's eating C-rations while German POWs are fed hot meals enrages him so much that he looses his poise, commits a horrible act, and suffers a harsh end. Janelle, however, thrives in the army. She falls in love with a handsome officer, one of the first black pilots to fly combat missions. She even has her consciousness raised: When an injury sidelines her, she helps to integrate a defense plant. She gets some lectures in stiff-upper- lip resolve, as well. ``Nobody said it was going to be fair,'' a nurse tells her. ``You're not the first woman in love who has had to watch her sweetheart go off to war. You're Army! You're a part of this great big machine, so pull yourself together.'' The war against segregation on the home front, hobbled by bad prose and melodramatic chestnuts. (Author tour) Read full book review >
BLACK GOLD by Anita Richmond Bunkley
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 2, 1994

African-Americans battle and lust after one another as they struggle to gain control of an oil field in Texas in the 1920's: a well-researched if clichÇ-gushing first hardcover. Leela Brannon, orphaned as an infant and raised by her voodoo- spouting grandmother and seamstress aunt in Mexia, Texas, gets her shot at the American dream when she marries prosperous landowner T.J. Wilder and becomes mistress of Rioluces—Wilder's 160-acre melon farm outside of Mexia. Hard-working T.J., however, is also coldhearted, and Leela soon finds herself almost succumbing to his half-brother—flashy gambler Carey Logan. When T.J. discovers the two in his hayloft, semi-clothed, he banishes Carey from Rioluces. But seven years later, after T.J. dies of tuberculosis, Carey returns to claim Leela and gain control of Rioluces, by now the target of crooked, oil-crazed white speculators. Meanwhile, Leela has joined forces with Victor Beaufort, an ambitious wildcatter who advances her the money to save Rioluces from foreclosure in return for the right to drill for oil on her land. Just as Victor and Leela are on the verge of gaining everything they want—wedding bands on their fingers and control over the black gold of Rioluces- -Carey steps in with an evil scheme that almost destroys them and leaves Rioluces in flames. Near the close, Victor's financial base has been ruined, and Leela is on trial for the murder of Carey (whom she's discovered, in a southern gothic twist, is really her half-brother). Innocent Leela is eventually acquitted, of course- -and she and Victor reunite on the grounds of Rioluces. Despite interesting historical documentation of a neglected chapter of African-American history: a saga marred by oily, overheated prose that renders the characters as insubstantial as layers of methane gas. Read full book review >