A posthumous novel from Harris (Mama Dearest, 2009, etc.), about gay black men seeking acceptance.
At the beginning, Bentley Dean III, scion to a wealthy black Detroit family, breaks off his engagement with the very suitable Kim in order to live an authentic life. And for Bentley that means out of the closet and in a public relationship with his lover Warren. Five years later Bentley is in Miami, disinherited by his homophobic father, dumped by Warren, who refuses to identify as gay, but nonetheless happy to be himself. He and his business partner Alex own an Afro-centric modeling agency (she handles the women, Bentley happily handles the men’s side, which offers the occasional midday treat). But the agency has seen better times; the economy is in free-fall just as the Obama election is coming up. Financial worries force Bentley to book a suspicious modeling assignment—a request for gay-friendly eye candy for a private party. Bentley is assured he won’t be inadvertently pimping out his models, but when he arrives at the all-male event, he suspects that he’ll regret the night. He brings along Jah, an 18 year old that Bentley found in foster care and has mentored over the years. Jah, now in college with noble plans, catches the eye of the host, Seth Sinclair. Married with kids, Seth is a Hollywood megastar with a secret penchant for boys and control. Jah soon gets caught in Seth’s dangerous web, and Bentley is wracked with guilt. Meanwhile, Warren and Bentley reconnect, though Bentley, still in love with Warren, suspects the man hasn’t changed and will always live the double life. All these men can’t compete with the one man Bentley wants back in his life—his father. The best of friends until he came out, Bentley misses his old man and is afraid one day it may be too late for a reconciliation.
A sudsy melodrama, to be sure, but one that offers a rare glimpse into the world of gay black men and the challenges they face.