Fire & Desire

One Special Moment

Secret Love

True Love by Brenda Jackson
(Arabesque/BET, $5.99, PG-13), ISBN: 1-58314-144-8
True Love is a tale of family secrets and unsolicited revenge.

When Shayla Kirkland found her mother’s diary shortly after her death, the entries outlined a period of extreme personal humiliation. Eva Kirkland worked for Chenault Electronics nearly 30 years prior to the start of True Love. She was fired after she was falsely accused of corporate espionage. Eva had had an affair with Thomas Jordache, head of TJ Electronics. She was unaware Jordache was Chenault’s biggest competitor. However, it was assumed that, given their relationship, Eva had passed company secrets to him. Months after she left the company, her innocence was proven.

Weeks later, Eva learned she was pregnant. But Jordache was married and refused to divorce his wife. He suggested she terminate the pregnancy. Eva stopped keeping the diary when she married Glenn Kirkland. Glenn knew of Eva’s short-lived affair with Thomas Jordache. He also raised Shayla as his child. Reading her late mother's diary sparked a need in Shayla to avenge her mother’s shame.

She vows that Thomas Jordache will pay and, although Alan Chenault has been dead for three years, so will Chenault Electronics. Chenault has a son, Nicholas and the sins of the father . . . Shayla ignores her aunt’s prophetic warning: “Sometimes revenge can be like a double-edged sword. You can taste a little of it yourself while you’re trying to dish it out to someone else. I don’t want you to be the one who gets hurt in the end. “

Nicholas Chenault was introduced in Brenda Jackson’s One Special Moment as the half-brother of Hollywood actor Sterling Hamilton. For the last three years, Nicholas has run the company his father began more than 35 years ago.

When True Love begins, Shayla has applied for a position as manager of international affairs for Chenault Electronics in its Chicago office. At only 26 years old, Shayla is highly qualified. She has glowing references from Howard University, where she managed the business department and a Harvard MBA. She is fluent in Swahili, Spanish, French and Chinese.

However, after interviewing Shayla, Nicholas refuses to hire her. He was very attracted to her during their first meeting and fears she might be a personal distraction. Shayla is eventually hired only after Nicholas is persuaded to do so by his confidante and security chief. The other man recognizes that she would be an enormous asset either to Chenault Electronics - or to its competitors.

Before Shayla can complete her company orientation or plot her revenge, she is called into action at Chenault. A very important deal is in delicate stages of negotiation and Shayla is needed for her knowledge of the Chinese language and culture. She must travel to Hong Kong with Nicholas Chenault. It is an excellent opportunity to sabotage Chenault Electronics. The question is: can she do it? Shayla and Nicholas’ relationship erupts and neither can believe nor understand the intensity of their feelings.

Old friends and business partners like Jacob Madaris, Sterling Hamilton and Kyle Garwood make brief appearances. A host of new characters are also introduced. But Jackson manages the traffic well. Each character has a function and does not get in the way of the main plot. Readers will be able to tell the players without the proverbial scorecard in this very busy book.

There is a secondary romance and a whisper of another. Juggling both stories slows the pacing of the novel somewhat. There are several unanswered questions the author has indicated will be resolved in the next novel. Brenda Jackson fans will enjoy the ninth connecting story in the romances about the Madaris family and their friends.

There is also a teaser for Surrender, the next installment in Jackson’s continuing saga. It is the story of restauranteur Netherland “Nettie” Brooms and Marine Colonel.Ashton Sinclair.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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