Joe's second (Falling Leaves of Ivy, 1992) is a sassy, lively--if thematically shopworn--exploration of dating and relationships in the '90s, told in the alternating voices of four African-Americans. Sandy is 25, well-educated, attractive, content with her job as a radio station executive, and looking for love. Her best friend Bebe's gone back to school and is juggling homework with her own job as a supervisor at a bank--and a desire to meet Mr. Right. When Sandy meets T.J., an aspiring jazz musician who's permanently short on cash, Bebe takes a while to warm up to him--but takes an immediate liking to his father, Speed, a widower who spends a lot of time with much younger women. There's no climax as such, but when Sandy decides to bring her best friend, lover, and lover's dad together at a dinner party at her apartment, all hell breaks loose: Bebe and Speed start flirting and end up in an impromptu dance contest, Bebe insults Speed, T.J. overhears and insults Bebe, and poor Sandy ends up angry with everyone. When she learns that T.J. has been philandering (with one of her officemates, no less), Sandy drops him--but then she's right back where she started: alone. A pregnancy scare, some poor communication--Bebe adopts an I-told-you-so attitude--and classic tales of misunderstanding ensue; when push comes to shove, however, everyone makes the right decisions and the characters who end up with love are the two who began by claiming they didn't want it. Too bad that Joe skates on the surface of the issues she ought to be exploring; the family and friendship bonds depicted here are more engaging than the love/sex stories, and the narrative offers few surprises.