For Love’s Sake by Rochunda Lee
(Arabesque/BET, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 1-58314-052-2
Saying good-bye to David was closure to a chapter in her life and the opening of another. It was like going to the bookstore to buy a new book. If the first couple of pages didn’t grab her attention, she didn’t buy the book. So far, the first couple of pages in the new chapter of her life almost made her want to return the book to the shelf.

- From For Love’s Sake

For Love’s Sake is Houston writer Rochunda Lee’s debut novel. It is an interesting story about living within the parameters of other people’s expectations and about taking charge of one’s life. For Love’s Sake is also a commentary on relationships between fathers and sons.

Tonya became the Locksley family’s overachiever by default. Her two brothers were such a disappointment to their parents that she became the focus of their attention and aspirations. Unlike her siblings who were high school dropouts, Tonya not only completed college and law school, but passed the bar exam on the first try.

Despite her academic achievements, Tonya hasn’t done very well in the relationship department. Her engagement to David, whom she had dated through undergraduate and law school ended abruptly when she caught him in bed with one of his fraternity brothers. This revelation did wonders for Tonya’s self-esteem. She has since has sworn off men to focus on her legal career as a new associate at the law firm of Freeman and Reynolds.

Tonya does well at the firm, earning the praise of her supervisors and senior partner Tyler Freeman. Everything is falling into place until Tonya meets the boss’ son, divorced Atlanta attorney, Dexter Freeman. Dexter is, according to Tonya’s best friend, “Atlanta’s and Houston’s most wanted man.” The two are attracted to one another and soon begin the love affair from hell. Dexter’s ex-wife, David and Tonya’s next-door-neighbor each have an interest in seeing the relationship derailed.

Machinations by these characters are lightweight when compared to Dexter’s overbearing father. He thinks Tonya is unsuitable and is determined that Dexter and his ex-wife are reconciled. The elder Freeman will stop at nothing to accomplish his goal.

Many of the secondary characters -- particularly the Locksley family -- are very well drawn, warts and all. Likewise, the scene in which Tonya’s brother defends her honor is both touching and funny. The development of this complex family shows what Rochunda Lee can do. Dexter and Tonya are developed more as caricatures than as multidimensional characters. He is such a Milquetoast, it was often hard for me to champion his cause with Tonya.

For Love’s Sake begins with a good premise and strong underlying themes. And, in the hands of a more seasoned writer and a more demanding editor, might have been more successful. The narrative is extremely colloquial and gives the novel the feel of a very long conversation among girlfriends. There were instances where the author could have expanded on the humor in her scenes.

Finally, For Love’s Sake contained far too many occasions when things just didn’t add up -- both figuratively and literally. For example, a child was conceived several months prior to her parents’ wedding. Her mother had already begun to show. However, when this same child celebrated her first birthday, “it had been almost two years” since her parents were married.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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