by R. L. Byrd
Paperback: 306 pages
Publisher: Aeon Publishing Inc. (June 2, 2010)
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
Reviewed by Emanuel Carpenter
In “Black Coffee,” the sequel to R.L. Byrd’s “Looking
for Sweet Love,” men take center stage.
In this testosterone-driven novel, characters known as Dr. Houston, D.K., Quentin, Brass, Miguel, Michael, Donnell, and Pastor Lee form what becomes The Brotherhood. Before they can share the male point of view on The Love Forum radio show, they must first travel to Alaska for some male bonding and a bit of therapy. It’s during this bonding that readers come to know these men, including a radio producer and host, a man of the cloth who is not so holy, and a man with big money and an interesting past involving a mistress.
As the men get to know each other, readers learn of their past secrets, career aspirations, and of the emotional turmoil in their lives. By the time the story is over, love triangles will be revealed, past physical and emotional abuse will come out, and unexpected family relationships are revealed. (Think Maury Povich.)
Readers of the previous novel will welcome back familiar characters such as D.K., Jessie, and even the memory of Melissa Morgan, the protagonist of the first book who has left a child behind after her untimely death. With Melissa gone, Jessie must rely on D.K. to pick up where she left off and drive the new direction of The Love Forum’s format.
Kudos to R.L. Byrd for picking up where the very good “Looking for Sweet Love,” left off. He creates some great and memorable scenes and characters while also showing he has a sense of humor. Take for example, the scene below when one of the men’s wives calls into the radio station:
…I’m Malcolm’s wife. You do know Malcolm Crawley, am I right? You did just sleep with him a few days ago, and I right? I’m the woman whose name is on the marriage certificate and on all the birth certificates of his kids. I’m the woman whose mouth you’re stealing food from by living up in that condo he’s helping you pay for. And that cheap-ass Benz you’re so proud of---I would like to point out how low down on the list you are. Baby girl, that’s a C class, okay? I’m pushing the 750. I got handbags that cost more than that bucket you’re driving, but woman to woman, I’d like you to break it off.
It’s relationships like the one in the passage above that will keep
readers turning the pages. And what one man reveals while under hypnosis is
worth the price of the book itself.
On the down side, Byrd’s setups are a bit elaborate; and he uses incredibly long sentences. This style of writing will make you want to skip sentences here and there to just get to the good parts. Also, the first-person point-of-view mixed in with the overall third-person narrative doesn’t quite gel.
Though “Black Coffee” is not perfect, it’s still worth picking up. The ladies will especially love this outpouring of male emotion as the men get their Oprah on, more drama than the TNT network, and even the shirtless men on the cover who appear to be auditioning for the black version of Magic Mike.
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