In this debut novel, a recently divorced woman rebuilds her life, cherishes her friendships, and weighs possible relationships with two attractive men.
“Lady, you are the one that I have been looking for all of my life,” writes Neal Roberts to Lynette Parker, 35, a Wharton- and Yale-educated lawyer and mother of two in the Chicago area. She’s separated from her unfaithful, hard-drinking husband, Jason, but not yet divorced because she fears going to hell. When the Holy Spirit speaks to her (“You’d better use your life or you are going to lose your life”), however, Lynette can finalize her divorce and accept Neal’s offer. That’s promising, given that Neal is a tall, handsome, highly paid civil engineer who’s attentive, gentle, and (it turns out) great in bed. Neal seems like a great catch, but he’s still living with his ex, and Lynette wonders whether she can trust him. Luckily, she has a great support system in family, church, and friends, such as Sherri, who owns a beauty salon: “Black folks did not believe in going to psychiatrists but they did believe in their hair dressers and barbers.” Mike Strickland, equally gorgeous and wealthier than Neal, is also interested in Lynette. He comes through for her in a clinch, while Neal lies to her and breaks a promise—but Neal is the one she loves. In the end, Lynette realizes she needs some time to love herself. In her novel, Cook doesn’t provide simplistic wish fulfillment, despite the good-looking, affluent suitors. The tale’s focus is more on Lynette’s struggle with desire, faith, and fear, which gives the story backbone. Moral issues like infidelity are explored through several characters, not always in ways readers might expect; Lynette’s sister Marla, for example, simply concludes that “men don’t think or act like we do.” But the author can be vague about details (Lynette’s age is learned only on page 227), her style can be clumsy (“When she opened her email she immediately noticed her email”), and the punctuation and usage could use a cleanup.
Though rough around the edges, this book tells a well-rounded love story.