Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Art of Deceit by Fabiola Joseph

I'm not going to discuss the men in this book because, simply stated, their actions/reactions are based on physical attraction and their penises. The prime example is Tay's telling Tangie that she's "just a star fucker." He knows this about her, but his attraction to her and his enthrallment with her sexual prowess override this. He tells his bodyguard "She got a nigga hooked and there's nothing that I could do about it." Well, there is something he could do about it -- walk the other way.

But I digress...

I've read books before where a character did or said something that was so overboard it made the character ridiculous. That's not the case here. The characters in this book are very well developed and realistic. Their words and actions are consistent and in sync with the characterization the author has set out to show the reader. The women characters in this book intrigued me.

The main character set off a rollercoaster of emotions for me.

1. Admiration - She's a go-getter who lets nothing get in her way. When she sees something she wants, she goes after it. No matter what else she has going on, her eyes remain on her ultimate goal. She is a master manipulator/charmer and no one she comes across is immune to it.

2. Hate - I hated her for the things she did to get what she wanted - Seducing Carl and rubbing it in his face that they'll never be together because he doesn't make enough money for her. Taking the groupie to the hotel room as a "gift" for Tayvon and her rejection of Amira because leaving Tay would be walking away from what she'd aspired to all her life and losing the material things that it represented.

3. Sympathy - Her sexuality rules her. She uses sex to control and manipulate, with the exception of Amira. She found true love with Amira, but was afraid of what others would think/say. Her grief over Amira's death was heartwrenching. The author vividly paints the picture of the denial phase and the reader can't help but feel sorry for Tangie.In different places in the story, we get brief glimpses of a sad little girl who feels like she's on her own with no one else to look out for her well-being and happiness. This is where her "get him/her before he/she gets me" attitude stems from. I would be interested to know the kind of childhood she had. Her mother instilled a lot of her attitude in her. It would also be interesting to know her mother's story. 

4. Finally, I must admit that Tangie is a woman that I fear. The insecure part of me quakes at the thought that a woman like her might decide she wants my significant other, whether it be for money, sex, or whatever. Someone like me would have not no chance whatsoever in trying to stand up to or fight against the ruthlessness with which she operates. 

While on the surface, Shamika isn't a nice person, I sympathized with her character. Not because of what Tangie did to her, but because of who she is. She's a hood chick struggling to fit in. Her actions are a desperate attempt to come up from the lower ranks to the upper eschelon. With her preoccupation with trying to fit in and be the person she thinks she should be, she doesn't realize that she's trying too hard and pushing Black to look elsewhere. It's obvious that she comes from a background of poverty or just barely making it. She wants a big house like Tay and Tangie's instead of the simple townhome that she and Black share. She envies Tangie's jewelry and clothes. The material things that she sees Tangie with is what she wants for herself. It's hard for me to determine whether she truly does love Black or whether she's holding on to his potential. In her words, they have a "thug love," not a kissy, kissy love like Tangie and Tay. In my opinion, she doesn't know what love is and is simply looking for a method of come-up.

This character was only in the book for a short while, but her presence had the greatest impact on the story by bringing out the other side of Tangie's character. Amira was a tragic character. Because of her career in the spotlight, her personal relationships were affected. She was having to suppress who she was to keep her fans happy, but in meeting and falling in love with Tangie, she was willing to risk her career. When Tangie wasn't brave enough to admit to reciprocal feelings, Amira wasn't emotionally able to cope with it. Tangie was her downfall.

***** SPOILER ALERT! *****

Once I sat down to read, I couldn't stop until I finished the book. I can't wait for the sequel to find out what happens. Part of me hopes that Tay isn't really dead, that maybe it's one of the body guards or Carmello. I want to know whose baby Tangie is carrying. I'm a little surprised that with her mindset of sex as a tool, she wouldn't make sure the men wrap it up or that she wasn't on some type of birth control.
While the story is entertaining, I'm a little disappointed that she didn't get any punishment for her actions. Yes, she lost Amira, but that loss doesn't seem to have changed her. It's as if she cried it out and now she's moved on with her life. She uses and abuses people and it doesn't seem to affect her at all. Her character remains consistent in her "all about me" attitude. She doesnt' seem to grow from that. Maybe in the sequel she will.

I applaud the author for a well-written story. She is certainly a wonderful storyteller. This was my first time reading her work and I look forward to reading more. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

A copy of this book was provided by the author for review. I received no compensation.