Tuesday, April 19, 2011
BOOK SPOTLIGHT: He Was My Man First By Nancey Flowers & Courtney Parker
Richard is on the fast track at Jorge Jacob’s, the leading fashion design clothier in the country and Vanessa plans to be by his side as he makes his ascent up the corporate ladder. However, Valentine helped build Rich’s career and was there when he was merely a drug dealer from the ‘hood. Though Valentine works in the corporate world, she maintains her street mentality and will not hesitate to fight for hers.
Valentine Daye is a product of the streets. Raised in Lafayette Garden projects, she lost her father at the tender age of ten and her mother at the age of thirteen. She was pawned off to live with her aunt Zenobia who had enough problems and didn’t want another mouth to feed. By fifteen, the feisty and sexy young Valentine was living the life with drug lord, Colombo. Things were going well until Colombo and his crew are murdered, and Valentine is found alone and beaten by Richard Washington in the apartment from which Colombo operated.
Richard Washington, affectionately called Rich by Valentine is a handsome rugged former thug. Prior to the murder of Colombo, Rich was one of Colombo’s many street runners. However, Rich never cared for Colombo or the way he treated Valentine and doesn’t waste time picking up where Colombo left off by making Valentine his Queen.
Vanessa Knight is a woman who has everything and wants for nothing…except Richard Washington. Vanessa is the heiress to Soul Shine, a multi-million dollar hair care company founded by her grandparents. Armed with a Bachelors degree from NYU and a Master’s in Global Fashion Management from the Fashion Institute of Technology, Vanessa is willing to forgive Richard’s flawed background. Mainly that he attended a college that no one has ever heard of, her parents loathe him and he’s dating a chickenhead who is not deserving of a prize such as Richard. However, her patience is waning and Vanessa tells Richard that he must decide what’s important to him—a flourishing career at Jorge Jacobs, where with her assistance he can become Vice President or a life where he’s constantly dwelling on a scarred past?
Valentine and Richard are a happy couple who have weathered a few minor altercations. Valentine is well aware of the fact that Richard occasionally has flings. But doesn’t every man? Valentine knows that if he has a penis, he’s bound to stray, but he always finds his way home. However, along comes Vanessa Knight, Valentine’s worst nightmare and he’s starting to lose his way.
When Daye meets Knight the plot thickens and someone walks away with a black eye and her dignity while the other winds up in jail. Richard is put to the test and must make a decision. Does he gamble and start a new life with the beautiful and conniving Vanessa who is incapable of love or does he stay with his around the way girl, Valentine who has been with him through thick and thin?
He Was My Man First is the first narrative to intertwine contemporary fiction with street lit. Fast paced and packed with drama, this novel will have a cross over appeal. The characters jump off the page and readers will find themselves rooting for Valentine and Richard to stay together, but not all stories are meant to have a happy ending.
Nancey Flowers is the author of the #1 Essence bestselling novel Shattered Vessels. She also penned No String Attached and A Fool’s Paradise, and contributed to Proverbs for the People and I Didn’t Work This Hard Just to Get Married. Nancey lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, Michael. She’s presently working on the sequel, He’s Still My Man: After I Do.
Courtney Parker is a writer specializing in self-help, inspiration, and fiction and nonfiction. As a celebrity ghostwriter, novelist, and children’s book author, Courtney has written or collaborated with such bestselling authors as Terrell Owens, Nikki Turner, Victoria Christopher Murray, music producer Teddy Riley, and Olympic gold medalist Maurice Green. Her works include a contribution in Twilight Moods and her debut novel, Runnin’ Game. Currently, she works on the Emmy Award-winning Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Courtney is presently working on the sequel, A Man of My Own.
Book Club Discussion Questions:
1. Why do you think Valentine stayed with Rich as long as she did?
2. Do you think Rich loved Valentine? Do you think Richard also loved Vanessa?
3. Do you believe Valentine overreacted when she saw Vanessa and Richard in the restaurant? What would your reaction have been?
4. What is Vanessa’s motivation? Love? Power? Or possession?
5. Like Vanessa’s mother Cornelia, do you feel people should date outside of their social status?
6. Would you take Rich back after he cheated on you? If so, why?
7. Is half a man, better than no man at all?
Excerpt: My Man
It’s 2:06 A.M. My stomach has been uneasy for the past two hours and a rash of goose bumps have taken residence on my caramel skin. I’ve been up since midnight wondering where my man is and when he’s coming home. There’s no acceptable excuse that he could possibly proffer for being out this late on a work night and not calling. I’ve already taken the initiative of contacting his mother in the event that there was a family emergency and she confirmed that everything is copasetic. Calling his friends is pointless, since I know they’ll cover for him. As much as I hate to admit it, I know he’s with another woman.
Rich and I have been together for nine years and have been engaged for three of those years. I’m the one wearing the two-carat, princess-cut diamond and platinum engagement ring on my finger. Rich and I go back many, many years and he was my man first and will always be my man. My friends always say, “Valentine, cut Rich off. He ain’t nuthin’ but a dog.” But they’ll never understand our relationship and our commitment to one another. Those other girls that he used to kick it with on the side weren’t nothing serious. I understand that men cheat and those women out there who think their men don’t cheat, are only fooling themselves. If the notion that your man ain’t sticking his dick in some other chick helps you sleep better at night, then good for you. I like to keep it real!
Richard Washington and I met when I was seventeen years old and he was eighteen. I was messing with this drug dealer named Colombo, who had Lafayette Gardens and Marcy Projects on lock. I was Colombo’s number one chick and life was real good with us, but whenever things went wrong with his game I got the short end of the stick or the thick end of the belt, literally. Colombo was known for his quick temper and being violent. Nevertheless, my options were limited.
My father pulled a Houdini and disappeared when I was ten years old. Three years later, my mother was robbed and stabbed to death on her way home from work, leaving me with her younger sister, my aunt Zenobia.
Aunt Zenobia spent much of her time trying to tackle baby daddy number three. It didn’t seem to matter that baby daddies number one and two pissed on her and left. Aunt Zenobia hunted men for sport and was determined to find her big payday. She barely raised her own two children, CJ and Shaquetta, and definitely didn’t want to be bothered with another mouth to feed. I figured adding me to the picture made it difficult for her to pin down another man. Especially since the majority of the men who visited Aunt Zenobia flirted with me behind her back. Yeah, I had barely entered my teens, but my body was very shapely, which made me look mature for my age. Aunt Zenobia was wise on these men, and though she never raised the issue with me, I knew it annoyed her. Either way, I didn’t stick around very long, and by fifteen I was living the life with Colombo.
Rich was one of Colombo’s many runners. Colombo operated out of an apartment in LG projects, but we didn’t live there. Colombo was a follower of Biggie Smalls’s “Ten Crack Commandments” rule number five: never sell no crack where you rest at. I don’t care if they want a ounce, tell ’em bounce.
I had seen Rich at the headquarters, and we would make small talk, but Colombo didn’t like me associating with the hired help. Although I handled the bookkeeping, I knew more than anything I was his dime piece. However, if he ever caught someone admiring me for too long that could’ve caused trouble. Therefore, I kept communication to a minimum. Rich was different though, whenever he came around, he carried himself with respect. His territory and money were always on point and when his business was complete he left. Rich wasn’t like the other runners who sucked up to Colombo, hung around idly, and made excuses for coming up shortchanged. He’s the kind of brother that you can carry to the club one night and a black-tie affair the next. At six feet, two inches, with burnt caramel skin, sensuous lips, silky eyebrows, and lustrous hair to match, Rich put male models to shame. So even though I didn’t say much, my eyes must have said a million words. Whenever Rich came by my heart would flutter and it didn’t help that he was always so nice. All of Colombo’s workers were polite to me because I was his girl. Most of them even had the nerve to proposition me on the low, but I knew better than to ever mess with any of his men. If Colombo ever found out they were disrespecting him he would have popped their dumb asses, but I kept my mouth shut. I could handle myself.
Colombo and I had a bittersweet relationship. The sweet side was he wined and dined me and bought me anything my heart desired. He spared no expense, because he loved to show me off. After all, I was young, sexy, and hot and Colombo knew that if we split the next big-time hustler would be on standby. He paraded me around like a queen. However, he also had a dark side. He was very controlling and abusive to me and his employees. You never knew what or who was going to set him off. He could be in a room with fifty people and even if he never spoke a word to you, he could recollect the outfit you wore, your hair and eye color, amongst other details that the average person may overlook. His memory was remarkable—he could recall numbers, dates, places, and incidents that at the time may have seemed insignificant, but down the line may have had a major impact on his decision to do business with someone. Colombo didn’t take unnecessary chances with his operation and trusted his team to have similar values and common sense. Unfortunately, that wasn’t always the case.
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