Between Friends

Family Affair


Suddenly by Sandra Kitt
(Arabesque/BET, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 1-58314-202-9
When Sandra Kitt’s Serenade was released in 1994 to help launch the Arabesque imprint for Kensington, readers had to wait nearly two years to find out what happened to Alexandra Morrow’s younger sister, Christine. Arabesque/BET Books reissued Serenade last December making the second-chance romance between Alex and Parker Harrison available to a new crop of romance readers. But this time readers only had to wait two months for the re-release of Suddenly, Christine Morrow’s story.

Suddenly begins approximately six years after the close of Serenade. Parker’s music career is extremely successful and the Harrisons are still very much in love. Alex has just given birth to their first child and Parker has taken time off to spend with them. In the meantime, Christine has carved out her own high-visibility career as a supermodel. But Christine has always measured her life against Alex’s. Seeing her sister settled into life with Parker and the baby forces Christine to realize how different her own life and priorities are. Somehow she feels she doesn’t measure up.

Christine is called upon to model at a political fundraiser. After the fashion show, she becomes ill. Dr. D. Maxwell Chandler comes to her assistance, but makes it clear that his concern is professional and that he does not approve of Christine or her high maintenance lifestyle. She is taken aback by the doctor’s rebuff.

“She hadn’t forgotten for a moment that Dr. D. Maxwell Chandler had blown her off. Well, she had news for him. She was famous and sought after. Magazine articles had been written about her, she’d been photographed by Avedon and Lebowitz, film deals had been offered…and all of them turned down. Christine knew she could have just about anything she wanted. No way was she going to let D. Maxwell get away with dismissing her. Just who the hell does he think he is? Christine snorted, working herself into a frenzy of indignation. She poured herself a cup of decaf and made two slices of dry, fat-free toast. And wondered what she was going to wear.”

Sandra Kitt has crafted an engaging story about the attraction between an immovable object and an irresistible force. The characters are extremely credible and well matched. But it’s just a matter of time before Max succumbs to the inevitable. In the meantime, Christine has a lot of growing up to do.

In Suddenly, the author displays a range of emotions and humor not always evident in her later works. There is a funny scene in which Christine demands an “emergency appointment” to see Max, only to discover he is a pediatrician. There are poignant moments as Dr. Chandler treats and improves the quality of life for children with AIDS. It is hard for Christine to remain unaffected as she discovers the many dimensions of Max’s personality beneath his staid exterior. The reader witnesses her journey on the road to maturity and realization of the world outside her own narrow life experiences. For his part, Max can neither remain unaffected by Christine nor wedded to his initial opinion of her.

Suddenly is a worthy successor to Serenade. It is still as fresh today as when it was first released. It shows another side of Sandra Kitt’s romance writing career. It’s worth a look.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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