SMOKE AND MIRRORS by Ketima Whitehall

SMOKE AND MIRRORS

The Secret Life of a Cheater
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A bickering African-American couple is amusingly unfaithful in author Whitehall’s frisky debut novel.

Accountant Maia and attorney Michael Henderson live with their two children, Andrea, 13, and Tre, 9, in Bowie, Maryland. At lunch, Maia’s friend Diane informs her that Michael is cheating. At 5 feet 5 inches tall and 235 pounds, Maia has become undesirable to her relatively fit husband, who’s always looking for a “side piece.” Maia’s married boss, Andrew “Drew” Neal, has an eye for her and, sensing she’s unhappy, makes his move only to be rejected. Michael’s infidelity is multilayered. In addition to making it with a potential employee, he’s flirting online at Blackconnections.net, has the occasional fling with one of Maia’s girlfriends and, with a co-worker, visits a club called Xxtasy. Here’s a steamy story of yet another husband and wife—told from their alternating perspectives—who are affluent (she carries a Coach bag and wears Gucci pumps) and restless in their marriage. It’s a familiar story with a fresh take, peppered with zippy, humorous dialogue primarily about sex, as when frustrated Maia informs her husband that she’s “dick deprived.” Proud, possessive Michael is saddled by a Madonna/whore complex: He thinks a wife should behave, so he looks for rough and wild elsewhere. Dutiful Maia is the compliant wife; weary of the missionary position, she finds solace in Twinkies, turning to vibrator Bunny as her man loses interest. The title moniker applies to both husband and wife. Maia, on advice from a friend, sets a “honey trap,” adopting an online persona to expose Michael’s infidelity, and she eventually indulges in a cheater’s game. The escalating situation between husband and wife, which puts their marriage at risk, captivates more than Michael or Maia, who become increasingly tiresome in their complaints. A standout character is bold, brash swinger Nina Laussat, new to town and looking for work. She plays with Michael and Maia, both together and separately, voicing dismay at Michael’s lack of stamina and Maia’s take-without-giving approach. One significant downer: After pages of buildup, the book ends abruptly with the click of a phone. It’s a less than satisfying climax, but there’s always Bunny.

Erotic tale about the pleasures and pitfalls of swinging and swapping, with enticing dialogue and a disappointing finale.

Pub Date: March 31st, 2014
ISBN: 978-1493189250
Page count: 298pp
Publisher: Xlibris
Program: Kirkus Indie
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