So Amazing by Sinclair LeBeau
(Genesis/Indigo, $8.95, PG-13) ISBN 1-58571-038-5
***
So Amazing, the third novel by Genesis author Sinclair LeBeau, is a spin-off of her debut work, Glory of Love. It is the story of Jenny Martin, a secondary character and friend of Glory of Love’s main characters Drs. Nina and Addison Wagner.

Nina and Jenny met as children in a foster home where they both were placed. Nina was older and took Jenny under her wing. But their foster mother did not like Nina and had her sent away. While Nina was able to attend college and become a doctor, Jenny fell in with a bad crowd. She became pregnant by a man who was killed as a result of gang violence. Alone and afraid, she married his best friend. Her husband abused her until he was arrested and sent to prison. Jenny later divorced him.

When So Amazing begins, the Wagners have moved away to Chicago. Jenny and her daughter Chloe, now seven years old, have remained in Harper Falls, Virginia. The Wagners have arranged for Jenny to work as an office assistant for their friend, architect Laurence Strong.

Laurence’s business is headquartered in Chicago, but he has returned home to Harper Falls and set up a temporary office to be near his ailing father. The elder Strong and his son have been estranged since Laurence was the sixteen-year-old inexperienced driver at the wheel the night his older brother Gary was killed. Nearly two decades later, Laurence is still grieving over the loss of a brother he idolized and the demise of the relationship with his father. “Dad thought of Gary as his son, not Laurence’s brother.”

Jenny’s prior employment experience has been limited to work in department stores and as an office volunteer in a women’s support center. But Laurence Strong is a demanding, short-tempered, foulmouthed boss. The inexperienced assistant makes many mistakes in her first weeks on the job. Jenny is intimidated by her abrasive employer whose mannerisms remind her of her abusive ex-husband.

However, when Chloe unexpectedly is taken to the hospital, Jenny gets to see Laurence’s compassionate side and he is drawn to her. As he learns more about her life and courage, he falls in love with her. They become lovers on a business trip together, but their romance is short-lived after she overhears one of Laurence’s friends ridiculing her. Jenny leaves his bed, his employ and his life.

Laurence and Jenny’s romance seesaws as a result of several misunderstandings and personal insecurities each character harbors. Jenny is actually the stronger of the two characters. It is a fact Laurence acknowledges as he attempts to gain strength from his relationship with her. The secondary characters are well-rounded and give much needed support to the main story.

There are a few inconsistencies, loose ends and one of my favorite new euphemisms - “his pulsating center of power.” Although So Amazing is a stand-alone, it is necessary to read Glory of Love to understand Jenny’s personal development and her fear of Laurence’s temper. So Amazing is an interesting story about love, forgiveness and the various forms abuse can take. It marks continuing development in Sinclair LeBeau’s work as a writer and is worth a look.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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