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Crescent Blues Book ViewsBerkley Publishing (Paperback), ISBN 0425185753
Whether you love or hate romance novels, Laura Castoro's Crossing the Line accommodates. Befitting its title, this book crosses the line between romance and contemporary fiction. With unpredictable twists that place it steps ahead of predictable romance novels, hardcover-worthy "Crossing the Line" could easily hold its own alongside titles by heavily marketed authors.

Book: Laura Castolo, crossing the lineWithin the cover, Thea Morgan crosses the racial line. An African-American who appears white, Thea's complexion -- and the reactions it elicits from both black and white people -- make her feel out of place not only in her own community, but also in the white one into which she married and works. A widow raising a blond, blue-eyed, typical teenager, Thea deals daily with race as an in-her-face issue. From feeling conspicuous in a congregation full of African Methodist Episcopal worshippers to anticipating a colleague's comments about her dining with a black man, Thea feels so genuine that the revelation that Castoro's own life inspired this story comes as only a slight surprise.

When race, family drama and career challenges seem like enough to keep the book moving, Thea bumps into Xavier Thornton, an ex-NFL star turned celebrity preacher who scored huge points with Thea decades ago. Much to the dismay of Xavier's large congregation -- particularly the single, female parishioners -- no first lady supports the man behind the pulpit.

Wondering what type of romance novel features a minister? I asked the same question, quickly followed by another: "Will this author 'cross the line' and write another book about a shady preacher?" Worry thou not. Xavier feels down-to-earth (he listens to slow jams on the radio), hip (he filmed a music video in New York) and romantic (flowers make up only part of his game). And, believe it or not, integrity intensifies his sex appeal. Best of all, you won't feel the need to repent for getting sucked into this book.

Stacey Carter-Lane

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