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VANILLA, CINNAMON AND DARK CHOCOLATE by Edwina Louise Dorch

VANILLA, CINNAMON AND DARK CHOCOLATE

by Edwina Louise Dorch

Pub Date: June 28th, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-66323-405-6
Publisher: iUniverse

In this contemporary urban novella, three Black women of varying skin tones struggle with violence and romantic dissatisfaction in Southern California.

Dorch’s brisk tale follows the lives of three women whose skin color and choices begin to subtly dictate their career and social life trajectories. Sonnie Black, a spirited Los Angeles child welfare social worker, is mentoring new employee Denice Gray on her human services cases. Both women have interactions with Tyrone Wilson, an arrogant, intimidating, and manipulating court reporter in the office who is “the color of blackberries.” Sonnie defiantly challenges Tyrone about his demeaning behavior and brings him to her church services. Despite Sonnie being unhappily single, she is hesitant to begin another relationship after a disastrous interlude with an English professor in her master’s degree program a few years prior. Done with Tyrone, Sonnie is immediately smitten with Denice’s brother, Howard, a local politician with a “massive blond afro, green eyes, and olive skin,” but she still has unresolved trust issues. When Tyrone violates Denice after a night out and then blackmails her, the story shifts into high gear. The melodrama with Tyrone could jeopardize Denice’s romantic future with a junior pastor. Meanwhile, Lisa Steel, one of Sonnie’s more challenging welfare cases, seems disinterested in getting a job because of her family ties to a dangerous Colombian drug dealer. These women bring Dorch’s narrative to vibrant life. They lean on their Christian belief systems for guidance, making the story particularly appealing to religious readers. From a racial perspective, the tale is primarily concerned with themes of “colorism,” which is considered a form of prejudice and discrimination occurring within and outside of an ethnic community. In the book’s preface, the author—an artist and psychologist—remarks that this can have drastic social implications and determine “who gets ahead, who gets convicted, and who gets elected,” and it “influences health, wealth, and opportunities for success.” Through her dynamic collection of characters, Dorch illustrates and illuminates this pernicious societal ill, and in a gratifying ending, her characters grow to realize their strengths and worthiness.  

A rousing trio of women anchors this potent tale about class and race.