Wealthy California matron in midlife crisis uses the veteran entertainer as her role model in Luckett’s debut.
While husband Randall is on an extended business trip, Lena stews in their Oakland mansion and reads Tina’s autobiography about life after Ike. Randall is no abusive Ike Turner. But he is a self-absorbed businessman who won’t go back to marriage counseling and has told Lena to figure out on her own what she wants. Lena put her ambitions as a photographer on hold in order to support Randall in his climb up the corporate ladder. Now he takes her for granted and can’t understand why she doesn’t appreciate the expensive lifestyle he’s provided. She tells him: She wants his attention, not his gifts (although readers might notice she does seem to relish the expensive trappings described in loving detail). When Randall gets home, the marriage goes from bad to worse. He may or may not be fooling around with his assistant, but he definitely resents what he considers Lena’s disloyalty as much as she resents his high-handed arrogance. When the two separate, their bratty college-age kids are with Randall all the way. Soon Lena is comfortably ensconced in her new luxury apartment with a dream gallery job starting in two weeks. She takes off for southern France, hoping to meet Tina and see her perform in concert. Wouldn’t you know it, shortly after arriving in Nice she runs into an old flame at the hotel pool. Years ago, Harmon chose another woman and has regretted it ever since. Soon he’s wining, dining and bedding Lena—not to mention proposing. When Randall shows up, full of apologies, she is understandably torn. Then she learns that her beloved mother has died and cuts her trip short. Even though Lena never actually sees Tina Turner perform, her self-affirming spirit carries the day.
The fact that the characters happen to be African-American adds nothing to this standard woman’s empowerment romance.