Eighth in Roby’s Reverend Curtis Black series, this time featuring Curtis’ clueless third wife, Charlotte.
Despite his checkered past as clerical babe magnet to the entire Chicago-land African-American community, Curtis has emerged unscathed and wealthier than ever as pastor of his own megachurch in ex-urban Chicago. His family, wife Charlotte and their son Matthew, enjoy all the perks of Black’s success, including entrees to Ivy League schools and shopping sprees at Tiffany. However, another viper (the couple’s domestic road has been a rocky one as regular readers will know) lurks in the gold-plated nest. Curtis’ lover Tabitha, stricken with AIDS, dies, leaving her two-year-old daughter Curtina in her baby-daddy Curtis’ care. The affair with Tabitha was Curtis’ payback for Charlotte’s adultery in a previous installment. (That liaison resulted in a child, now deceased, whom Charlotte tried to pass off as Curtis’ own). Charlotte, predictably, doesn’t consider them even. She resents Curtina’s presence in her household and insists that Curtis consign her to one of Tabitha’s relations. Curtis’ refusal to abandon the girl starts the cycle of revenge affairs spinning yet again. While carousing in a Chicago jazz club, Charlotte meets Tom, with whom she trysts drunkenly in a sleazy motel. As their marriage disintegrates, Curtis is tempted by a number of predatory females all too willing to be wife No. 4, including Raven, the church’s CFO, and a hot-to-trot parishioner named Sharon. Charlotte enjoys a passionate Palm Beach weekend with Michael, an old flame re-ignited via Facebook. Just when Matthew’s involvement in a high-school hostage situation seemingly reunites the couple—now remorseful, Charlotte is even trying to act motherly toward Curtina—Michael’s estranged wife Sybil, and Tom, who has his own agenda, threaten to expose her betrayals. The pace, slowed by too much stilted dialogue and clunky exposition, accelerates in the last pages, preparing the way for the next novel.
Schadenfreude is the only enjoyment readers could derive from watching these spoiled characters repeatedly self-destruct.