Commitments

Keeping Secrets

Wine and Roses

 
Endless Love by Carmen Green
(Arabesque/BET, $5.99, PG-13), ISBN: 1-58314-135
****
“Michael pinched the bridge of his nose. He wasn’t supposed to think like this. If the men in his family found out, they’d rib him until the day he died. He was a Crawford. A strong man who was proud and honest and decent to women, children and small animals. Strengthened by the reaffirmation of his manhood, he went into the kitchen and refolded all the dish towels.”

Vivian and Julian Crawford, Sr. must have the most incredible genes. A former Emory University professor and a federal judge have produced six successful and studly sons. There’s a doctor, a dentist, two lawyers, an ambassador and a Marine captain.

The family was introduced in Carmen Green's 1997 romance, Silken Love and revisited in Keeping Secrets. Endless Love is a stand-alone, but I strongly recommend the other two romances in the series.

Naturally, men like these have special women in their lives. Attorney Michael Crawford, the second son, was no exception. Throughout his twenties, he and April were a couple. At 27, they married. But marriage began to show signs of strain when the couple failed to have children as a result of his low sperm count. They spent countless time and money trying to have a child. But Michael and April eventually separated.

As Endless Love begins, he is hoping that a trip to Puerto Rico with April might get their marriage back on track. Before he could invite her to go, he receives divorce papers. Ten years of marriage ends with a signature. Michael takes the demise of his marriage hard. According to his grandmother, he is the first Crawford since the beginning of the 19th century to be divorced. Mentally, he conjugates his new personal verb: to be divorced.

Michael tries to make the transition from married man to single man with more than the average bumps in the road. Women have changed a lot since he’s been married and he finds some of his discoveries somewhat shocking. His comic metamorphosis from “Michael” to “Mike” includes a wardrobe update and a trip to the mall. One of his finds is a pair of $400 leather pants that his doctor-brother later calls a “cow” and threatens to remove surgically.

April has retained the house, so Michael finds an apartment in a state-of-the-art complex. The complex is managed by graduate student Terra O’Shaughssey as part of an Emory University management course. Successful completion of this project could mean a chance to manage an upscale living community in Cobb County.

Terra needs to study a little harder. Early on, she is reviewing the ten points of settling conflicts from a text called Interpersonal Communication Skills. In addition to problems with Michael Crawford and his penthouse apartment security system, Terra is constantly put-upon by her what-have-you-done-for-me-lately family. Her marriage ended because of the demands made on her by her family. The O’Shaughsseys of Brunswick are light years away from the Crawfords of Atlanta. But, as Michael’s relationship with Terra evolves, he never belittles her or her family.

Endless Love is about families: good, bad and indifferent. As Jade Houston-Crawford explains: “Honey, we’ve all got skeletons we want to nail in the closet and cement the door shut on, but we can’t pick our relatives. We can only tolerate and love the ones we have.”

The relationship between Michael and Terra develops logically. Most of the secondary characters are Crawfords. They give much needed support to the main characters -- whether they’re asked to or not. The Crawford brothers’ intervention after Mike’s wild bachelor party is a classic. Carmen Green’s sense of humor shines. It is one of the funniest scenes with the liveliest dialogue I’ve read in a while.

Of course, I’ve got a few nits to pick. Terra is a bit of a wuss as Crawford women go. But I have no doubt that Ann, Keisha, the diva Lauren and Jade, the bounty hunter will have her up to speed in no time. If not, there’s always Nick to put her through basic training, Crawford-style. I also missed the Crawford’s weekly basketball game.

I have been told that this may be our last visit with the Crawfords. Endless Love is worth the trip.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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