I Promise

Say You Love Me

Love’s Deception by Adrianne Byrd
(Arabesque/BET, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN1-58314-136-7
Carissa “C. J.” Cartel is a chip off the old block. As head of the company her father founded, C.J. is every bit as myopic and ruthless as he was. She is a take-no-prisoners kind of gal. Competitors quake in her presence - and worse.

Take Travis Edwards, head of Edwards Electronics. One afternoon, while arguing with C.J. in her office over her firm’s hostile takeover of his company, Edwards has a heart attack and lapses into a coma. C.J. is horrified. Not only is she guilt-ridden over having caused Edwards’ heart attack, she is reminded of her father’s fatal illness. And that she refused to see him in the hospital before he died.

When no one comes to visit Travis Edwards, she attempts to locate his son. In the meantime, C.J. holds a vigil at his bedside. Although she is not related to the man, she lies to hospital personnel and convinces them she is the fiancée of a man old enough to be her father. When Edwards’ estranged son, Nathan finally arrives, he has no trouble believing that the attractive and attentive young woman at Travis’ bedside is his father’s lover. The introductory exchanges are curt, to say the least.

Nathan is a photographer. He and his father have not seen each other since Travis left the family many years ago. His parents divorced and Nathan was raised by a stepfather whom he adores. Given his non-relationship with his father, Nathan is hard pressed to explain his presence at his father’s bedside. However, it is a task made all the more pleasant by C.J.’s visits.

C.J. and Nathan get to know each other. She knows that Nathan and his father are estranged. She knows that he was hurt by a woman years ago and guards his heart. She knows that she is falling in love with him. C.J. is in love with a man who detests liars and her relationship with him is based on a lie.

Once Nathan discovers that she is not really his potential stepmother and that the engagement was a ruse to get the hospital to allow her to visit, he acknowledges his own attraction to her. However, he who knows C.J. as “Carissa” does not know that she is the same C.J. Cartel his father was meeting with when he had his attack. He has assumed that the allusive C.J. Cartel is a man, a man who is never around when Nathan goes to confront him. It is only a matter of time before C.J. is found out.

Love’s Deception is an entertaining story about the lengths to which people will spin a web of deception in the name of protecting those they love. It is a big lie story that flows smoothly. The main characters are likeable, but it is C.J.’s oft-married paternal aunt who steals the scenes in which she appears. Nathan does an excellent job of chipping away the facade of the frosty “C.J.” to release the “Risa” within.

In Love’s Deception, Adrianne Byrd has crafted a solid story about love, loyalty, forgiveness and family secrets. It’s worth a look.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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