Author: Suzette D. Harrison
Welcome to the sleepy, all-Black southern town of Bledsoe, where Colored residents proudly declare “ain’t nothing white here ‘cept milk and teeth.” It’s 1935. A press-and-curl costs a quarter. Records play on phonographs. And a telephone is a luxury.
Meet twenty-three-year-old Taffy Bledsoe Freeman. She doesn’t need her gift of second sight to know her “mockery of a marriage” to a man twice her age is far from good. After a seven-year exile Up North, Taffy travels down-home to the small town bearing her family’s name, plotting her escape from a marriage not worth the price of a press-and-curl. She only needs to retrieve the son her husband banished to her parents’ care, before boarding a train headed for the Windy City filled with liberty and opportunity. Instead, Taffy stumbles into Roam Ellis: the man Taffy meant to marry.
Twenty-six-year-old Roam Ellis is a “broad-shouldered, hard-bodied” Pullman porter riding the rails coast-to-coast, outrunning the bitter heartbreak Taffy left behind. Now, after a seven-year absence, Roam is face-to-face with his first love. Anger ignites. Old wounds are exposed. But when pain subsides, passion rises, thrusting Taffy and Roam into a hurricane of buried secrets and lies.
Reminiscent of the works of Bernice McFadden, Bertice Berry, and Andrea Smith (The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner) this Historical Romance is bathed in southern lore and sweeping imagery. Lyrical and powerful, Taffy is a story of restoration and redemption that you won’t soon forget.
Suzette D. Harrison, a native Californian and the middle of three daughters, grew up in a home where reading was required, not requested. Her literary “career” began when her poetry appeared in a volume of creative writing published by her junior high school. While Ms. Harrison pays homage to Gloria Naylor, Dr. Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, and Toni Morrison for initially inspiring her creative spirit, it was Alex Haley’s Roots (which she read at the age of fourteen) that unveiled the tremendous power and importance of African American literary voices. In addition to being the wife of a university professor and mother of gorgeous children, Suzette is a cupcake proprietor who loves singing gospel-with-a-hint-of-jazz. An elementary school librarian, Suzette is currently working on her next novel…in between batches of cupcakes.
Taffy made ready to fuss him out only to reconsider. That steel-headed man won’t move. She would. Taffy eyed the fence, knowing she’d earlier hopped it with ease. But she couldn’t hike her dress up before present company.
“Go ahead,” Roam goaded, popping peppermints in his mouth, ready to enjoy the spectacle. “I’d like to see you try.”
Options were few with the opposite side of the road lined by a ditch and a frighteningly out-of-control briar patch. Taffy could reverse her path. I’m not! Taffy had long ago learned how to do what she had to.
“You ‘bout to break something,” Roam warned, shaking his head as Taffy prepared to climb. “Gal, quit acting up and walk this way.”
Ignoring Roam, Taffy hoisted herself onto the bottom rail. Fumbling, she tried climbing with shoes in hand, finally dropping them over the fence, onto the other side.
Roam moved quickly before Taffy, too, was beyond reach.
Taffy felt an arm snake about her waist, effortlessly hauling her backward as if it didn’t cost Roam a thing. “What’re you doing?!”
“Whatever I want,” Roam responded, setting Taffy on her feet, anchoring an arm about her waist when Taffy spun, spitting heat.
“Move, Roam.” Taffy strained against Roam’s iron hold. “Get off me before I hurt you!”
Her fire fizzled. Voice softened, tongue tasted regret. “Roam, what do you want?”
“You.” Taffy stilled. Roam reinforced his hold. “Two things I won’t do with you: mince words or waste time.” Lifting her chin, claiming her mouth, Roam proved his point.
His lips were hot, soft, sweet. Taffy got lost savoring them and him, and the bombarding emotions of mere moments before became nonexistent. Oh my blessedness, Taffy inwardly purred, feeling a slow, unsanctioned melting. They’d shared quick, quaint kisses in adolescent sweetheart days. Never this. Never with man-to-woman savoir faire. Resuscitated passions exploded and multiplied. Taffy could barely breathe let alone think, so she followed love’s lead and held on for the ride.