"An intriguing premise and a good start to the new Hattersville series."
Reviewed by Maria Munoz
Posted February 20, 2011
Romance Contemporary | Multicultural African-American
What do you do when your mom doesn't like your fiancée and
will do anything (and I mean anything) to make sure you
never marry him? This is the dilemma facing Erica Sanders.
Erica is a descendant of the families who founded
Hattersville, Ohio. As such, her mother believes the family
has an obligation to meet a certain social standard
regardless of the sacrifices required. This obligation
includes marrying a man of standing within the community
(even if that man has his eye on Erica's best friend from
the other side of the tracks). Erica is not cooperating, as
she is engaged to marry Brian Lawson, her soul mate, and
leave Hattersville to live with him. Karen is determined to
stop the wedding and even hires a private detective to dig
up any real or imagined secret from Brian's past that will
turn Erica against him. Will she succeed in tearing them
apart? Or will Erica see the truth of her mother's betrayal
and believe in Brian and their love?
I found the premise of A SLIKEN THREAD intriguing. Given
that the couple has already met and fallen in love, this
book is less a traditional romance and more about the
machinations of Erica's manipulative mother, Karen.
However, there are sufficient moments of love and passion
between Erica and Brian and a secondary love story which
should satisfy readers looking for a romance. Fans of Ms.
Jackson will be happy to know this is the start of a new
For Erica Sanders, finding a soul mate was the easy part.
Brian Lawson is the man she wants, and everyone agrees
they’re the ideal couple. Almost everyone. The one
exception is Erica’s mother, Karen, who prefers her
daughter marry another man. Karen even hires a private
detective to investigate Brian, but the truth he uncovers
is the last thing she expected—a devastating betrayal that
rips both families apart.
Convinced that her relationship can’t be salvaged, Erica
ends her engagement. Yet she has lingering doubts over her
decision, especially once Brian’s attractive single
neighbor starts pursuing him. A chance meeting proves that
the passion between Brian and Erica hasn’t dimmed—but
neither has the determination of others to keep them apart,
or the shocking lengths Karen will go to in order to
undermine her daughter’s relationship.
As secrets old and new are revealed, Erica and Brian find
themselves caught between the bonds of the past and an
uncertain future, each making painful discoveries about who
to believe and trust. Masterfully told and laced with the
sensuality and drama that Brenda Jackson does best, this is
an unforgettable story of relationships at their most
complex, and how hard it can be to choose between living
separate lives—or holding fast when love hangs by a silken
Excerpt"Jo, tell me. Have wedding jitters taken a toll on you yet?"
Erica Sanders glanced across the table, thinking that only
April, her close friend since junior high school, would have
the nerve to ask her something like that with a straight
face. April North knew her so well. She could tell Erica's
anxiety and stress were mounting, only a couple of weeks
from the engagement party at which the couple's families
would officially meet. Erica was so not looking forward to
that affair— unless her mother's attitude changed drastically.
"Yes, I'm a little stressed," she admitted. "My
sanity is barely holding up. But it's to be expected of
every bride, isn't it?" She figured if anyone should know,
surely April would. After all, her best friend had walked
down the aisle three times already.
"Umm, a little stress is to be expected of every
bride. But in your situation…" April left the words unsaid.
Erica's mother was driving her crazy.
With one breath Karen Sanders would rant and rave about
Brian Lawson not being good enough to marry her daughter,
and with the next breath she'd give the wedding planner hell
because she intended for Erica's wedding to be the social
event of the year.
It would be a wedding befitting the
great-great-granddaughter of one of the founding fathers of
Hattersville, a small town of seven thousand, noted in the
history books as one of the first cities for freed blacks in
Ohio. Erica had lived in Hattersville all twenty-seven years
of her life, except for her college years in Wisconsin.
Living in another city those four years had opened her eyes
to a lot of things, especially how closed-minded and
snobbish some of the residents of her hometown were. But not
all of the citizens were privileged. Her friend April had
been born on the other side of the tracks, in the Fifth
Ward—something Erica's mother liked to remind her of every
chance she got. But to Erica, what side of the tracks
someone was born on didn't matter, and her close friendship
with April had always been special. Besides, April, who had
always been a beautiful person, had gone from rags to riches
and was now a world-famous model. That proved that anyone
who put her heart and mind to it could become successful,
despite her humble beginnings.
Needing to escape the oppressive atmosphere of the town even
more than Erica did, April had traveled west to attend UCLA,
where she'd met husbands one and two. Husband number three,
whom she'd divorced a year ago, was someone she'd met in
"You know as well as I do," April continued to say while
eating her salad, "that Ms. Karen's idea of a dream marriage
is one between you and Griffin."
Erica knew that was true. Griffin Hayes's family, like hers,
represented old money in Hattersville. Naturally some
people, especially her mother, assumed she and Griffin would
grow up and marry. There were those, again namely her
mother, who figured that doing such a thing was not only
politically correct, but would destroy some curse reputed to
have been placed upon the two families that could only be
broken by a marriage between them.
Unfortunately, nobody bothered to inform her and Griffin's
hearts, since they just weren't feeling it. Their families
had thrown them together so often when they were growing up
that eventually they began thinking of themselves as sister
and brother, rather than as a couple whose lives were
destined to end in holy matrimony.
Although they'd tried dating while in high school, the fire
was simply not there. Griffin had recognized it and so had
she. That was when they'd made the decision to be nothing
more than friends.
"Mom might as well get used to the idea that I will not be
Mrs. Griffin Hayes," Erica said. "I most certainly have.
Trust me. Brian is all the man I want and need." She doubted
anyone, even April, knew just how much she meant that.
"Will he be flying in this weekend?"
A huge smile spread across Erica's lips and she held up two
crossed fingers. "Let's hope. They've hired two more
attorneys at his firm but he still has a large caseload."
She and Brian, an attorney at a prestigious law firm in
Dallas, had met last summer while vacationing in Myrtle
Beach. He had been out fishing on the pier one morning and
she had been jogging along the shoreline. They had struck up
a conversation, and he had invited her to breakfast the next
day. A few weeks later, they had become lovers.
When the summer ended they decided to keep the affair going
and, beating the odds, their long-distance romance had
survived. Over the Christmas holidays Brian had asked her to
marry him. She had accepted and now looked forward to her
August wedding and her move to Texas.
Her mother had been in an uproar at the thought of her only
child marrying someone other than a Hayes and moving away.
Even now, months later, there were days Karen Sanders had
problems coping with the inevitable.
"So how's your dad holding out?" April asked, breaking in on
Erica's thoughts. "Has your mom convinced him to disown you
Erica thought about her dad, with his soft hazel eyes so
filled with love and understanding. He had given her his
full support—although he kept it low-key so as not to get
her mother riled. But it was the little things he would say
and do to let her know he admired the fact that she was
doing the very thing he hadn't done, marrying for love
instead of for the sake of preserving some legacy. It was no
secret her parents' marriage had been arranged.
"You know as well as I that won't be happening," she
replied. She and her father had a close relationship and
things between them would always be that way.
A short while later she and April were walking to their
parked cars, promising to get together several more times
while April was in town visiting her grandmother. It was the
first week of March and there was definitely an Ohio chill
in the air, which made Erica tighten her shawl around her
shoulders. The shawl, a Giorgio exclusive, had been a
birthday gift last year from April.
Up ahead Erica saw the town's square, brightly lit and
rimmed by a well-maintained lawn. The parks in the Fifth
Ward might look deteriorated and in need of care, but here
the statues of the city's forefathers were in perfect
condition. It almost sickened her when she thought of the
good citizens' priorities.
She glanced at her watch. It wasn't even eight o'clock and
already the retail businesses had closed, leaving the area
looking like a ghost town. The town had survived what would
have been rough economic times when a few wealthy residents
had come in and bought out the small, struggling businesses,
which made the rich even richer and gave them tighter
control and ownership of the town.
Even her job as head librarian and accountant at the town's
historical library was nothing more than a cushy position
created by her parents—mainly her mother—to assure the
history of Hattersville was well preserved. Erica was
constantly reminded that if it hadn't been for the
forefathers—those free blacks who'd come from Canada—the
town wouldn't exist.
For generations there had been a distinct line between the
two groups of people living in Hattersville, the haves and
the have-nots. Those that had money—the Hayeses, Delberts,
Sanderses, Carters, Heards, Bakers, Cobbs and Stonewells—
were those who owned major manufacturing corporations that
employed thousands of people who drove into the city to work.
After giving April a good-bye hug, Erica slid into her car,
a cherry-red Mercedes two-door that had been a birthday gift
from her father a couple of years ago. After strapping on
her seat belt, she was about to turn the key in the ignition
when her cell phone rang. She smiled when she saw the caller
was Brian. She wasted no time answering it. "Hi."
"Hi, sweetheart. Where are you?" he asked.
"About to leave Ryder's Steak House. April's in town so we
did dinner." She paused a moment and then asked, "So, do you
think you can get away for the weekend?"
She heard his chuckle and the sexiness of it carried through
the phone. She immediately recalled the first time she'd
seen him, shirtless and wearing a pair of cutoff jeans with
a fishing pole in his hands. He had given her a flirty smile
and she'd turned to mush. She had actually felt that smile
in every part of her body, every pore and every single cell.
That smile had transformed her into one hot and achy mass
and on that day she'd discovered that the whole concept of
lust was as real as real could get.
"Yes, I think I can get away," he said, interrupting her
thoughts. "By the way, there's something waiting for you at
A smile touched her lips. He had been known to send her
thinking-of-you gifts through the mail. "There is?"
She wondered what he'd sent her this time. Last week it was
a CD on which he'd recorded "Rock-a-bye Baby" in his deep
voice like Barry White's as a way to lull her to sleep each
night. "What is it?" she asked.
He gave her another sexy chuckle before simply saying, "Me.
And now that you know, don't speed getting here."
How could she not, Erica thought after a quick gasp escaped
her lips. They hadn't seen each other in over three weeks
and she was filled with a deep longing that she knew would
be getting satisfied in a big way when she saw him. Sensual
shivers danced up her spine when she envisioned how that
would be accomplished.
"Make yourself comfortable until I get there," she told him.
"I've done that already and I can't wait to see you, baby."
She couldn't wait to see him, either. "I'm on my way."
Before Brian could give her a hot response, one that would
probably make her detonate, she clicked off the phone,
started her engine and pulled out of the parking lot. With
Brian in town her plans for the weekend had definitely
changed. Everyone would understand.
Everyone but her mother.
Brian Lawson held his mobile phone in his hand a moment
longer than necessary before putting it on the table. He
released a satisfying breath at the same time that he felt
flutters in the pit of his stomach. The same thing always
happened to him whenever he heard Erica's voice.
If anyone had told him that falling in love with a woman
would be this way, he would not have believed them. But he
was convinced he had fallen in love with Erica the moment
he'd seen her that day on the beach, and somehow he had
known she was different from the other women he'd dated.
He had been a man comfortable with being single. A man who
enjoyed dating when it suited him, with no plans to settle
down anytime soon. However, after spending time with Erica
that summer, he had known in a short period that she was a
forever kind of girl. But the thought hadn't scared him off
like it really should have. Instead, the more he'd gotten to
know her, the more he'd wanted to become her forever kind of
Sighing deeply, he took another swallow of beer and glanced
around his future wife's eat-in kitchen. It was large,
spacious and it suited her since she enjoyed cooking. So did
he. That was one of the first things they discovered they
had in common.
The walls were painted a pale yellow and her appliances, all
white, actually made the room appear larger. His stainless
steel kitchen back in Dallas, although it might look more
modern, seemed depressingly sterile compared to hers. And
then there was that huge picture on the wall, the one of
Myrtle Beach beneath a sunny South Carolina sky. It was nice
to look at while sitting at the kitchen table, especially
during a frosty Ohio winter. Even better, it was a drawing
of the exact place they'd met that summer. Right down to the
actual pier. When he'd seen it in a gallery in Texas, of all
places, he couldn't miss the chance to get it for her. For them.
He sat down at the table to wait for Erica to come home. If
he remembered correctly, Ryder's was twenty minutes away on
the other side of town, and although he'd warned Erica not
to rush, he knew that she would anyway. That meant she would
be arriving in ten minutes or so.
He glanced around the kitchen again, and from where he sat
he had a good view of her dining room and living room. His
condo back in Dallas wasn't nearly as large. It was the
perfect bachelor pad, but they had decided that they would
move into a bigger place after they married, one closer to
They had also decided to keep this condo so they would have
a place to stay whenever they returned to Hattersville to
visit her parents. Of course there were plenty of guest
rooms in her parents' monstrosity of a house, which could
easily be considered a mansion. But he appreciated Erica's
intuitiveness in knowing he'd be uncomfortable spending even
one night under Karen Sanders's roof. It was no big secret
that he wasn't exactly her choice for a son-in-law.
Erica's mother was definitely nothing like his mother. Rita
Lawson had to be one of the sweetest and most down-to-earth
women to walk this earth. She had raised him after his
father died of an aneurysm when Brian was fifteen. Putting
him through college and law school hadn't been easy, but she
had done it without any complaints. For that he was
exceedingly grateful. And now he was proud that she was
doing something she'd always wanted to do. She'd always
loved the outdoors and was now a landscape architect for a
major corporation. Her job entailed a lot of traveling,
which was something she'd always dreamed of. Just last week
she had returned from Beijing. It had been her first trip to
China and he couldn't help but recall how excited she was
when she'd shared the experience with him.
She had officially met Erica months ago and had immediately
fallen in love with the woman who was to be her future
daughter-in-law. He took another sip of his beer wishing
Erica's mother had been that accepting of him.
He tried not to let the thought bother him, but every once
in a while he couldn't help but dwell on it. Didn't the
woman know that the time when parents selected spouses for
their offspring was over? Erica had her own life and was old
enough to determine just how she wanted to live it and with
Brian heard the sound of a car door closing and knew Erica
was home. He stood up and a feeling of anxiousness flooded
him. Anxiousness and love.
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