The Ties That Bind
by Eboni Snoe, contemporary (2002)
Arabesque, $6.99, ISBN 1-58314-338-6

This, people, is a simple kiddie mathematical romance book. It's all about linear equations and very simple sums. The main characters act in a very simplistic way from A to B, but there's no point trying to figure out why they want to go from A to B, how do they go from A to B, or whether there are other alternative places to go. Because if we attempt to tackle that sort of questions, that would be derivation of mathematical equations, calculations of premutations and probabilities, and hypothesis testing, and that is way out of a simple romance reader's league, right?

So this is a story about a woman, Essence "Essi" Stuart, whose mother tells her in dramatic overtones that her father is actually Cedric Johnson, a well-respected politician, right before Mammy croaks. Mammy still loves deadbeat dadda and begs daughter to promise to let it go. Yo, Bitch Momma, this is just like giving the starving daughter a huge chunk of Kentucky Fried Chicken and then asking her to give it away to the neighbor - bitch. But why does Bitch Momma still love that useless man? Ms Snoe doesn't care, it seems, and I guess, neither should we. Just remember, this is another typical Arabesque favorite cliché plot: forgive that daddy who dumped your mother after he refused to believe that momma was preggers with you. Why should we forgive, you ask? Again, Ms Snoe doesn't want you to care. Let's just go from Point A to Point B, people.

And it has the cheek to put in a female villain.

So, is that it? Dump on woman, forgive even the vilest of man unconditionally?

"Sssh! Just keep moving," Ms Snoe shushes me.


Cedric doesn't trust Essence. So he asks a PI named Titan Valentine (Point A to Point B, people - don't even laugh), who is also handsome and hot and all, to spy on her. Titan believes her to a money-hungry slut who just wants to trap poor Mr Cedric. Why? Even after she has behaved in no way that brands her one?

"I said stop asking why!" Ms Snoe shrieks furiously. "Just enjoy my beautiful philosophy of love, following your heart, forgiving Daddies no matter what, and yes, just SHUT UP!"

Indeed, there is quite some fancy New Agey yammerings about faith, love, open hearts, and other whimisical but vague and soft-hitting philosophy being bandied around. Hey, she's Essence and he's Titan, and these names aren't just names, people, they are Heavy and Deep Imageries, TM Eboni Snoe.

Titan and Essence are very understanding despite their bad second-guessing of each other, because let's face it, the author wants me to accept unconditionally that these two have the Inner Bond and they are Soulmates. But why? I don't see why they should click like that. It's just two pretty people in lust to me.

With all telling and no showing, all exposition but no character motivation or development, The Ties That Bind is all linear, trundling towards the finishing line like a cart-pulling donkey entranced by the carrot dangling before it. It asks and answers no questions, it offers no options, just lots of hot air. Sort of like a TV evangalist, really.

But one good thing about this though: unlike Geri Guillaume and Shirley Hailstock who penned the previous two books in this Family Reunion series, Ms Snoe wisely keeps the Johnson family clan where they belong: in the background. They never overwhelm the main couple.

Alas, in this case, their thoughtful staying in the background only expose the stick figures that are the main characters. This story is so dull and linear, it makes filling the blackboard with "I will not..." lines look like an exercise in spiritual enlightenment.

Rating: 50

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