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Man of the House

I Promise by Adrianne Byrd
(Arabesque/BET, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 1-58314-019-0
Adrianne Byrd's third novel, I Promise, is part of Arabesque/BET Books' new Bridal series. The publisher is releasing three contemporaries and an anthology in celebration of June, the traditional month for weddings. June is dominated astrologically by the sign of Gemini, the Twins. I Promise is a story about twins Jordan and Malcolm Williams and their pursuit of true love.

The Williams twins are relationship challenged. Malcolm has too many; Jordan has too few. Jordan has earned a master's degree. Malcolm washed out of community college and has what one character calls, "a Ph.D from PITT University...Players' Institute of Terminology and Technique." Jordan has been too busy working in Opulence, the family jewelry business, while covertly starting his own computer business. Malcolm has shown no interest in the family business except for dating the models hired to promote it.

For several months, Malcolm has been dating Christian McKinley, a recent college graduate. By Christian's definition, she and Malcolm are "just friends." But Malcolm has taken the stage at a family dinner to propose to her. Christian temporarily accepts to help Malcolm save face at the public gathering.

Of course, Jordan has missed dinner, the announcement and an introduction to Christian. He's been too busy trying to break the news to his father that the Williams heir apparent wants to leave the family business to devote his time to his fledgling company.

The Williams brothers' declarations have not been well-received by their parents. Rosa Chavez Williams is mortified that Malcolm wants to marry "that McKinley girl." Noah Williams cannot understand why Jordan is giving up his legacy "to play with computers."

Jordan goes out into the garden to gather his thoughts. It is dark and Christian, mistaking him for Malcolm launches into a non-stop speech breaking the engagement. Jordan tries to tell her who he is and then becomes intrigued with her. He asks for and receives a good-bye kiss...as Malcolm discovers them in the garden.

I Promise is a wonderful story about friendship and family love and loyalty. It is about rising to the challenges life presents and about giving others an opportunity to help and to love when the chips are down.

Adrianne Byrd doesn't fall into two-guys and a girl trap that bog down romantic triangle stories. There is no revenge, no evil twin. I liked the alternating tale of two brothers style of the novel. There is a secondary romance that promises a spin off.

I Promise has moments of laugh out loud humor and a road trip from hell. I don't want to mislead readers into thinking that I Promise does not focus on Christian's story. It does. Hers is a very poignant tale that deals with an issue many women face. The author deals with it succinctly, without being preachy.

The plot line could have been very inconsistent, but Byrd deftly handles most of the questions readers are likely to have. However, there are some reality gaps I simply chose to ignore because I enjoyed the rest of the story so much.

Adrianne Byrd is another in a growing group of Atlanta writers that includes Carmen Green, Shirley Harrison, Gail McFarland and Bridget Anderson. The writers have produced several wonderful romances.

I Promise has earned Adrianne Byrd a spot on my "Emerging Authors List." I recommend I Promise and a look forward to its spin-off romance.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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