Soulful Serenade
by Linda Hudson-Smith, contemporary (2000)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-140-5

From romance on the ice skating rings to romance on the R&B charts - Linda Hudson-Smith sure knows how to pick up some interesting backdrops for her romance. Soulful Serenade chronicles Hillary AKA the new Diana Ross's budding relationship with superhunk Brandon to her rise to fame as a great songstress. Naturally, while she's on top, Brandon isn't too happy. Jealousy, long-distance, the usual things start to happen. Oh, can love triumph?

(It better - this is a romance novel after all.)

Thing is, Soulful Serenade is just like every single book and movie made about this Famous Diva having to make choices between Money and Love. Jealousy, unreasonable tantrums, difficult choices, check check check. It also doesn't help that Brandon and Hillary (and their best buddies Cassie and Aaron, who are also smooching and are relegated to unpaid cheerleaders towards the later parts of the story) are as interesting as cold pea soup.

I mean, man, she's so talented, impossibly beautiful, utterly independent, poised and charismatic, and oh-so sexy. He's fabulously rich, utterly handsome, very talented in bed, charismatic, intelligent, has a very golden future (get out those shades, people) - ugh. With so much perfection, all this jealousy and what-nots come off as artificial.

Soulful Serenade makes a decent read, but in the sense of reading a Jackie Collins or Judith Krantz on their good days. Stories of perfect, impossibly talented, and utterly fabulous and famous people acting silly, with one or two insecurities thrown in so that the story won't be about three chapters long only - pretty boring if you ask me.

But BET will have a ready-made script for a movie starring - oh, Brandi? - on their hands.

Rating: 75

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