Book Review: A Love of My Own: A Novel
Book Reviewed by Linda Watkins
Welcome Back Mr. Harris.
Everybody! Yes, I mean, ev-ver-ry-bo-dy gets lonely sometimes and needs a little love. That’s what author, E. Lynn Harris, has been telling us for a while. In his eighth novel, A Love of My Own, we dive once again into the heartache and pain that accompany the search for true love.
The book’s cover almost drips with class and it is apparent that E. Lynn’s publisher spent the big bucks on this one. I was pleased to see my favorite character, Raymond Tyler, Jr., in the prologue, but surprised to find him in a hospital with a life threatening injury. Raymond is a fine brother, who just happens to be freshly out of the closet. Regardless of his gayness he still steals my heart. Thus Harris had me bent from the beginning.
At first I couldn’t stand one of Harris’ new characters, Zola Denise Norwood. I knew she would be trouble cuz sister-girl had it going on. She’s the editor in chief of the hot Bling Bling magazine. She’s got relationships with three highly desirable men: Hayden, her good-times friend; Davis, a captain of industry who is her rich sugar daddy; and Jabar, her personal studly cuddle puppy. Harris developed Zola’s character perfectly, and many woman would love to be in her shoes — but only until they get to know Davis. He’s obnoxious, cold-hearted and deceitful, and not the type of man you want to interact with — sexually or otherwise — on a long-term basis.
Harris, laid the plot well. It pissed me off that Zola was having it a little too good. While I watched her trying to outsmart Davis, I also watched her entangle Raymond into her troubles. Poor Raymond was already in recovery mode from losing his man, Trent. He had barely settled into his new job as CEO of Zola’s publishing company, when she commands his help. Raymond had already peeped Davis’ card, so he was more than willing to assist Zola, but oh what a mess it becomes. And let’s not forget about Basis (the Dog) Henderson, this time on the story’s sidelines. Basil and Raymond try to reconnect, but this is more a cause of confusion than celebration.
Whew! I was reeling from all the relationships, friendships and drama — the staples from which Harris concocts his stories. What I didn’t expect was the sympathetic, almost mournful, undertone of the story. I had a feeling someone would use the 9/11 tragedy as a backdrop sooner or later, but I never thought it would be E. Lynn. A good move.
A Love of My Own contains big time drama and flows well most of the time. As is true in all of Harris’ novels the entertainment is there. There is no way you can’t miss it. There are however, a few rough patches where I think Harris could have smoothed the wrinkles and developed a clearer view. In one instance, Zola flies home for the Thanksgiving holiday. She steps from the plane, starts to retrieve her luggage, then, BAM! She hears a couple reuniting, sheds a few tears because she has no real man of her own and suddenly she can not go home this way. She forgoes a taxi, changes her ticket, gets back on the plane and goes back to New York. Give-me-a break, this was so boring. There was no deepness to the emotion, nor do I know very many sisters who would have reacted this way. Especially one who I have thought to be totally together. This problem of unrealistic behavior was also seen, I feel in, two of Harris’ previous novels, Abide With Me and Not A Day Goes By, and resulted in these stories becoming bland. This time it wasn’t as severe. I also found the "Confidential" e-mails from Bling Bling distracting. And as much as I loved the late singer Alliyah, including her plane crash death seemed rushed and inappropriate. Nonetheless, A Love of My Own ended up being an enjoyable read. Personal Note to E. Lynn: Welcome back, Mr. Harris! You had me worried after the last two novels. I was ready to send out a search party, and to ask, "Will the real E. Lynn Harris please stand up."