Fans of the Reverend Curtis Black series will rejoice with this latest installment of the extended-family saga.
Despite their spiritually rich environment, temptations abound for the members of the Deliverance Outreach community. This time, Curtis’ daughter, Alicia, takes center stage. Preparing to remarry Phillip Sullivan, assistant pastor of her father’s church, Alicia should be happy, particularly given that Phillip has forgiven her for ruining their first marriage by having an affair with Levi Cunningham. But as the nuptials approach, Levi finishes his prison sentence for dealing drugs and immediately contacts Alicia. Determined not to betray Phillip a second time, Alicia tries but fails to ignore Levi’s overtures. Maybe he's her true soul mate? But does that justify letting down not only Phillip, but also her entire family? Meanwhile, Alicia’s best friend, Melanie Richardson, discovers that her husband, Brad, has once again lost thousands of dollars in the stock market. He’s promised to reform, but he’s said that before. His late nights at work aren’t helping their marriage, either. To make things worse, Melanie’s mother—the delightfully rude and awful Gladys—relentlessly needles Melanie about her weight, cautioning her that Brad will stray if she doesn’t get down to at least a size 8. Soon Melanie finds herself slipping back down the rabbit hole of her childhood eating disorder, exercising twice a day, eliminating solid foods, and making excuses to keep others from guessing the extent of her problem. Roby (A Christmas Prayer, 2014, etc.) toggles back and forth between Alicia’s and Melanie’s stories, ratcheting up the tension as both women’s lives threaten to careen completely out of control. The writing is simple and clean though sometimes a bit saccharine. Nonetheless, Roby is a master of making a delicious mess of otherwise good, merciful, God-fearing people’s lives.
Melodramatic, yes, but compellingly readable.