One Special Moment
by Brenda Jackson
(Arabesque, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-7860-0546-7
****
Sterling Hamilton is a superstar, a Hollywood actor that loyal Jackson readers first met in "Cupid's Bow," a novella in Arabesque's 1996 anthology, A Valentine's Kiss. He is businessman Kyle Garwood V's best friend and godfather to the ever increasing Garwood brood. The next Sterling Hamilton sighting came last year in Eternally Yours as he escorted actress and frequent co-star Diamond Swain to a Madaris family gathering.

One Special Moment is Sterling's story.

Sterling Hamilton's attorney has summoned schoolteacher Colby Wingate to California from her home in Virginia. Colby recently submitted an advertising proposal for the actor to endorse "Awesome," a new fragrance her brother's cosmetic company has developed for men. The superstar's involvement with the promotional campaign is just what the fledgling company needs to remain competitive. Although Sterling has shied away from product endorsements in the past, he seems uncharacteristically eager to work with Colby when they meet to discuss "the proposal."

While Colby thinks she has come to California to discuss her brother's business, Sterling mistakenly assumes that she is among the hundreds of women who have responded to his anonymous ad for a surrogate mother to have his child. The agreement calls for the mother to agree to a marriage of convenience, give up her baby to Sterling six weeks after giving birth and relinquish all ties to the child. There has been a big misunderstanding!

Colby thinks Sterling is cold, self-indulgent and arrogant and she doesn't hesitate to let him know it. For his part, Sterling can't understand why any woman just wouldn't want to have his baby ("the old-fashioned way") and walk away with $1.5 million and memories of him. He makes her an offer she flatly refuses.

But the superstar won't give up, he has decided that no other woman will do and Colby eventually will agree to have his baby. After his investigators learn that Wingate Cosmetics has been targeted for a hostile takeover, Sterling presents Colby with the evidence and she relents in order to help her brother who has sacrificed so much for her.

Sterling's carefully constructed plan unravels when he falls in love with Colby. He realizes he cannot let her go any more than she can walk out of her child's life.

When One Special Moment begins, neither Colby nor the reader think very much of Sterling Hamilton. Is this the hero, we've been waiting for? But Brenda Jackson skillfully allows Sterling to develop and makes the transition through Colby's eyes. The reader knows that special moment of his conversion and redemption.

One Special Moment is classic Brenda Jackson where love, passion and family values prevail. There is good interaction between the main and secondary characters and touches of humor. Brenda Jackson's fifth novel also provided a new challenge. Could she develop strong lead characters readers readily would embrace without the familiar presence of the Madaris brothers? Colby and Sterling are more than up to the task of carrying their own story. Old friends like Kyle and Kimara Garwood (who now have six children under the age of four) and Jake Madaris and Diamond Swain stop by. We also meet new secondary characters who could eventually spin off into new stories.

Brenda Jackson is one of my favorite authors. She doesn't merely write novels. Brenda Jackson organizes reunions that reconnect her readers with the solid, multifaceted characters they have come to know and to care about. It's always good to get together with the Madaris family, the Garwood clan and new friends like Sterling and Colby Hamilton. It's One Special Moment, indeed.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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