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Which Man by Ginny Albert

Book Review: WHICH MAN? By Ginny Albert

Published on iuniverse:

Falling in love and choosing a partner in life is as complex a process as any we experience in life. Where does passion start and love take over? Is it a trick of our minds that fools us into thinking we’re in love? And why do we love one person and not another? Are we fools to even get involved? Surely, smart people should know better.
Ginny Albert probes the nooks and crannies of her main character’s inner thoughts. She presents Sierra Bradford as a sophisticated, intelligent woman who falls for “Mr. Wrong.” She falls hard and accepts his marriage proposal. Albert draws a picture of the irresistible, smooth character who takes advantage of a woman who has stayed on the straight and narrow for what is probably way too much of her life. Vulnerable is written all over her.
With the painstaking step-by-step view of the blossoming relationship as it is presented, the reader hurts for the protagonist. She doesn’t have a chance in Hades of escaping her fate. She has never experienced the passion that Wade inspires. She doesn’t understand what is happening to her and can’t sort it out. She is innocent.
All the while, Sierra’s long-time friend, James, is looking on, watching and going through his own “****, what have I done?” trauma. Wade was a friend of his from college and James is the one who introduced Wade to Sierra.
James’ feelings for Sierra are dragged to the surface in a situation worthy of any major soap opera. Yet, in spite of the soap opera situation, there is a depth and sense of real life experience. James didn’t reveal his feelings for Sierra earlier. It’s something people do in real life. They’re scared. They’re shy. They’re not confident enough – whatever it is that holds them back, they don’t make the moves the way people with no conscience and no real feelings are more apt to do. We hate that they lose the heroine, but it happens.
There are a couple of major, defining events. James has a brother who is seriously ill. He lives out of town and James does the decent thing. He leaves and goes to stay with his brother. It’s a long absence, long enough for Wade to establish a relationship with Sierra. It’s also long enough for Sierra to start to examine her feelings for James and realize that she is feeling disloyal to him by getting involved with Wade. If there were nothing here except a friendship, why would she feel this way?
Then, there is a mysterious murder that is another disruption of their lives. None of them are the cause or the blame, not like a genuine soap opera, but close enough to disrupt their otherwise very mundane and perfect worlds. There is no warning that there could be a murder in the picture. But, then, that is just about the way they happen in real life. If anyone believes in the random happening of events in our lives, the random theory lives.
The reader has to have patience with this manuscript – it is definitely detailed. We get a boat load of Sierra’s feelings. But in the end, patience is rewarded. The characters are much more rounded than the typical romance novel – James with a sick brother who calls him out of town, Wade who is a cad down to his heels and Sierra who slowly awakens to what she really needs in a partner.
It is interesting that Albert has created characters who are African American. She is African American, so it is a logical direction. However, were this book made into a television show or movie, it would make little difference if the characters where Caucasian or African American. There is no distinction other than the descriptions of their color. No, I shouldn’t say no distinction at all. Perhaps there is a sense that Sierra is a bit more wary of men than her Caucasian sisters. Perhaps not as much of the princess, not as ready to assume that she is worthy of being put on a pedestal. This area is for a sociologist to explore, not this reviewer. Nevertheless, it does come to the surface.
The beauty of Sierra is that she explores her feelings without ever once pretending to be something she is not or failing to be honest with herself. As the story progresses, we are likely to ask ourselves how we rate our own lives and emotions next to this woman’s standards – and James’ standards. Having Wade drop in was a good thing for Sierra and James. The Wades of this world are a wake-up call. If they treat people badly, they don’t deserve to have the key to the palace. In this case, we are asked to do more than look for the pretty face. We’re asked to examine our values. Again, much more than we get in the run-of-the-mill romance.
It’s a reminder that the nerd, the quiet person in the corner, the unsung hero is a much better bargain for the long haul than the flashy, unscrupulous individual who has the appeal of a movie star on a big, gaudy poste