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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Forever My Lady by Jeff Rivera

Forever My Lady by Jeff Rivera
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full
Heat: Hot
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Dio Rodriguez grew up on the streets and knew all too well the hard, cool feeling of the barrel of a gun tucked down the back of his jeans. But his hard exterior softened when he met Jennifer. Jennifer understands Dio like no one else and makes him want to be a better man. Suddenly a drive-by shooting lands Dio in a prison boot camp and sends Jennifer to the hospital. When Dio learns that Jennifer is pregnant, he realizes that he must find a way to turn his life around and return to his lady. But can trainee Rodriguez get his act together among the hardcases in prison? And will Jennifer be waiting for him if and when he does?

Jeff Rivera’s Forever My Lady is an intense journey for the main character, Dio. Child of the hood, influenced by gangs, Dio is still somehow a likable young man, even at the beginning. He is far from admirable, but Rivera cleverly weaves a tale that reveals Dio’s past and develops great reader understanding of Dio’s emotional make-up and decisions.

The seamier side of life is incredibly realistic, but provides merely a backdrop to the growth and self recognition of Dio. We see him struggle through many changing and difficult circumstances. Jennifer, the woman he loves, is less well-developed as a character, but we cannot doubt his feelings for her. In fact, it is his loyalty that gives this story its romantic quality. That loyalty – that depth of feeling on the part of the main character, is perhaps the most surprising and most touching part of this tale. Rivera subtly reveals a tender side to Dio, that given the tough exterior, angry choices, and overall coarseness, we never expect. It is however, incredibly believable. It’s a little distressing that although we see him develop admirable qualities, jealousy easily remains a great motivator, and simple moral, humanity is not part of the equation. The character study here is indeed very remarkable.

Forever My Lady is very atypical for a book that claims the romance genre, although indeed, love is a motivator. I suspect this work will not exactly be the average romance-fan’s cup of tea, but the depth, writing quality, and evocative elements all contribute to giving it 4 books.