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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

FIRST: Sinners and Saints by Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley (Chapters written by alternating author)

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card authors are:

Victoria Christopher Murray 
ReShonda Tate Billingsley 
(Chapters written by alternating author)

and the book:

Touchstone; Original edition (January 10, 2012)

***Special thanks to Shida Carr of Simon & Schuster for sending me a review copy.***


Victoria Christopher Murray is the author of nine Essence bestselling novels, including The Ex Files, Too Little, Too Late, and Lady Jasmine. Winner of the African American Literary Award for Fiction and Author of the Year, she splits her time between Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

Visit the author's website.

ReShonda Tate Billingsley is an award winning former television and radio reporter, as well as the author of twenty-one books which have appeared on the Essence bestseller list more than twenty times. She is married with three small children and lives in Texas.

Visit the author's website.



Bestselling and award-winning novelists Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley bring their favorite heroines together in a novel that will delight their legions of fans.

Jasmine Larson Bush and Rachel Jackson Adams are not your typical first ladies. But they’ve overcome their scandalous and drama-filled pasts to stand firmly by their husbands’ sides.

When a coveted position opens up—president of the American Baptist Coalition— both women think their husbands are perfect for the job. And winning the position may require both women to get down and dirty and revert to their old tricks. Just when Jasmine and Rachel think they’re going to have to fight to the finish, the current first lady of the coalition steps in . . . a woman bigger, badder, and more devious than either of them.

Double the fun with a message of faith, Sinners & Saints will delight readers with two of their favorite characters from two of their favorite authors.

Product Details:

List Price:  $15.00

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Original edition (January 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451608152
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451608151


Chapter One 
How in the world was Jasmine going to keep her promise to God now?
Two years ago, she had promised Him that if He saved her daughter when she was kidnapped, if He brought her home safely, then she was going to live a life devoted just to Him. Jasmine had vowed that with Jacqueline’s return, she was going to live the life that God had for her as Hosea’s wife, as Jacqueline and Zaya’s mother. She wasn’t going to want for anything more than what God had given her, because surely, He had supplied her with enough.
God had done His part.
And for the last two years, Jasmine had done her part, too.
She’d lived a low-key life, thrilled that her greatest dramas were debates about fashion choices every morning with her seven-year old daughter.
But how was she supposed to keep her promise to God now? After what her husband had just told her?
“So, hold up,” Jasmine said, slipping into the chair across from Hosea. “I thought you were just going to the convention as the keynote speaker.”
Hosea nodded.
“So, explain this to me again.”
With a sigh, Hosea folded the newspaper he’d been reading and placed it on the table. He stuffed his mouth with a forkful of pancake, chewed for a moment, then said, “The call came in from a friend of Pop’s, Pastor Earl Griffith. He thinks I need to submit my resume.”
“To be the head of the American Baptist Coalition?”
Hosea nodded.
“But we’re not Baptist.”
His eyes danced with his amusement. “Get out of here.”
“You know what I mean,” Jasmine said, waving one hand. “I just don’t get it. Why would they call you?”
They didn’t call me. Only Pastor Griffith.Seems like there’re a couple of men in the running, though according to Griffith, the front-runner is Pastor Adams, Lester Adams from the Southern region.”
Jasmine frowned. “I’ve never heard of him.”
“Out of Houston. But Pastor Griffith doesn’t think Adams is the man. Seems that the last four presidents have been from the South and Griffith and a couple of other pastors on the board think that the Coalition needs someone from the North, someone more progressive, to really move the organization forward.”
“And they think that can be you?”
“Not they, darlin’. I told you—Griffith called me.”
“But you said there were others who agreed with him.”
Hosea nodded. “Apparently, they don’t have anyone from the North who they think can go up against Adams. I guess they think my name could win this.”
“That makes sense to me.”
“It doesn’t matter how much sense it makes, darlin’. I told Pastor Griffith that I’m not interested.”
As if she didn’t hear any of Hosea’s last words, Jasmine whispered, “Wow.” Old thoughts, familiar desires came to her mind—of power and prestige and money. How much money would a president receive?
She didn’t know a lot about the American Baptist Coalition, but she knew enough. Like the fact that they were the largest African American religious organization, and wielded major political clout. And as much as black folks loved religion, the head of the ABC would have a boatload of power—and so would his wife.
Talk about being the first lady!
I’d be the first lady of like . . . the world!
“Huh?” Her eyes were glassy with images of her future and it took her a moment to focus on Hosea.
His admonishment came before he even said a word. It was in the way his eyes narrowed and the way he’d already begun shaking his head. “Don’t even think about it.”
“You know what. I’m not gonna do it,” he said slowly, as if he was speaking to one of their children. “I’m gonna go to the convention and speak, just like they asked. But I’m not gonnarun for that office. The little I know about Lester Adams, he’s a good man. They’ll be fine with him.”
“How could he be the one if I’ve never even heard of him?”
“Like you know every pastor in the country.”
“I’m not talking about knowing every pastor. I’m thinking that Pastor Griffith is right. The head of the ABC should be someone who’s known and who can add to the Coalition. Think about what you bring as the pastor of one of the largest churches in the country. Then, there’s your show.” She nodded. “Pastor Griffith is right,” she repeated. “It has to be you.”
His head was still shaking. “No. I don’t want the drama.”
“Who said anything about drama?”
“Any type of election—political or religious—is always about drama.” He stood and placed his plate in the sink. “And then there’s you, my wonderful wife. As much as I love you, darlin’, anytime you’re involved in anything, drama makes its way into our lives. No, I don’t want any part of it.”
“So, you’re just gonna let this huge opportunity pass us—I mean, pass you by?”
“Yup, because it’s not an opportunity that interests me. The church, the show, and most importantly you and the children are enough for me.” He leaned over and kissed her forehead. “Speaking of the church, I’m gonna get dressed and head over there. I have a meeting in a couple of hours.”
“Okay,” she said, dismissing him with words, though she’d already dismissed him in her mind. Jasmine stayed as Hosea left her alone in the kitchen.
You and the children are enough for me.
Until a few minutes ago, she would’ve agreed with her husband. But this conversation was a game changer.
Hosea was right—their lives were without drama, but it had gotten kind of boring. Every day it was the same thing—getting the children off to school, then working on the women’s committees at the church, then coming home to meet the children, then helping Mrs. Sloss with dinner, then . . . then . . .then . . .
Not that she had complaints; she loved her life, her family. But she would still love everyone, and maybe even a little bit more if Hosea were the head of the ABC .
Oh, no. She wasn’t going to sit back and let this opportunity pass Hosea. He needed this position, even if he didn’t know it.
Standing, she moved toward their bedroom, the conniving wheels of her brain already churning. She stood outside the door of their master bathroom, listening to her husband praise God, the spray of the shower, his accompanying music.
“I trust you, Lord!” He sang the words to one of Donnie McClurkin’s songs.
“Babe,” she said, interrupting his praise time. “I’m gonna run over to Mae Frances’s apartment, okay?”
“Don’t you have a meeting at the church?”
“Yeah, but it’s not till this afternoon and Mae Frances just called and she really needs me to help her with something.”Jasmine paused. It had been a long time since she’d manipulated the truth to get somethingshe wanted. But it wasn’t like she was going back to being a total liar again—she just needed to get this done and after Hosea was in his rightful place, she’d go back to being on the side of righteousness. 
“Oh, okay. Is Nama all right?” he asked, referring to Mae Frances by the name their children called the older woman.
“She’s fine. You know Nama. I’ll call Mrs. Whittingham and tell her that I may be a little late for my meeting.”
By the time they said their good-byes and Jasmine grabbed her purse, she already had a plan. But she’d need some help, and Mae Frances, her friend who knew everyone from Al Sharpton to Al Capone and his offspring, was just the person to help her.
“Sorry, Pastor Adams,” she said to herself as she rode down in the elevator. “Whoever you are, you can be the president of the ABC once Hosea and I are done—in, say, ten or twenty years.”
She stepped outside of their Central Park South apartmentbuilding and into the New York springtime sun. Slapping on herdesigner glasses, she laughed out loud.
Oh, yeah, today was gonna be a really good day.

Chapter Two 
Watch out, Michelle Obama!
Rachel Jackson Adams smiled in satisfaction as shesurveyed her reflection in the bathroom mirror. She’d had toleave the prestigious American Baptist Coalition regional dinnerand step inside the restroom to compose herself. After all, shewas about to be the first lady of one of the most prestigiousorganizations in the country. She couldn’t very well be actinga plumb fool because she was overcome with excitement.But Rachel had wanted to do a backflip, front flip, toe touch,cartwheel, and anything else she could think of to express herjoy.
Rachel fluffed her honey brown curls, then lightly refreshedher MAC Oh Baby lip gloss. She had come such a long way. Hermother was probably dancing in her grave at the sight of Rachelas not only a first lady, but a soon-to-be prominent one at that.Rachel had worked hard to garner the respect of the parishionersat Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church. She’d grown up inthat church, so everyone knew her dirt—all of it—and it hadtaken God himself to get these people to respect her. And whileZion Hill had grown tremendously, it still wasn’t considereda megachurch, and outside of Houston there were few whohad even heard of it. As the first lady of the American BaptistCoalition, her status would go to a whole new level. Shoot, if shehad to be first lady, she might as well be the top first lady.
Rachel savored the thought as she dropped her lip gloss backinto her clutch and stepped back into the corridor.
“I was beginning to think you’d fallen in,” her husband ofeight years said before leaning in and lightly kissing Rachel onthe cheek.
Lester Adams wasn’t her true love—that title belonged toher thirteen-year-old son’s father, Bobby Clark. But Lester wasgood for her. Her love for Lester was that agape love they talkedabout in First Corinthians. It brought out the best in her. Well,for the most part anyway. Life with Bobby had been filled withdrama—Rachel admitted much of that was her own doing, but itwas drama-filled nonetheless. And although Bobby still remaineda part of Jordan’s life, Rachel had finally gotten him out of hersystem and was focusing all of her attention on making hermarriage work.
“What took you so long?” Lester asked, snapping Rachel outof her thoughts.
“Sorry,” Rachel said with a slight smile, “but you know I’mabout to be the preeminent first lady, so I had to make sure mymakeup was on point.” She tossed her hair back. “Come to thinkof it, I think I’ll change my name to Lady Rachel so I can havethe title to go along with the position.”
Lester narrowed his eyes and glared at his wife. “Rachel,” hebegan in that voice she hated—the one that he always used whenhe was chastising her.
“What?” Rachel shrugged, already getting defensive.
“I don’t have the position yet,” he said matter-of-factly. “Theregional board just nominated me tonight. There’s still a nationalelection.”
Rachel waved him off. “That’s just a formality. Did you hearthose election results? You beat Pastor Johnson seventy-three totwenty-five percent!”
Lester sighed. “Pastor Johnson also got his sixteen-year-oldstepniece pregnant.” As soon as Lester said it, he looked like hewished he could take the words back.
The smile immediately left Rachel’s face. Lester was no sainthimself. He’d had his own little pregnant-woman-on the-sidedebacle. But thank God, they’d worked through that crisis.“I’m just saying,” Lester quickly continued, like he wanted toprevent Rachel’s mind from traveling down that rocky memorylane, “Pastor Johnson wasn’t that hard to beat. I still have to runagainst whomever they nominate from the North region, andrumor has it they’re bringing out their top dogPastor HoseaBush.”
“That jack-legged TV preacher?” Rachel asked with a frown.
Lester shook his head. “Pastor Bush is not jack-legged. He’swell established, comes from a highly respected family, and heleads one of the largest churches in the country.”
So? He’s. Not. You,” Rachel said, reaching up and adjustingLester’s bow tie. Lester had been an extreme nerd when theywere in high school—which is why Rachel had never given himthe time of day. But he’d pursued her relentlessly and eventuallyhad worn her down. He was willing to be a father to her twokids and he loved her unconditionally. So she agreed to givetheir relationship a try, but not before having him shave off thatred mop of a hairstyle he wore and introducing him to Proactiv.She’d revamped his wardrobe, taught him how to have a littleswagger, and now, even she had to admit, he had it going on. Notto mention the fact that he was an awesome preacher. “Lester,sweetheart,” Rachel said, taking her husband’s hands, “you heardthat emcee tonight. For the past sixty years, the president of theABC has been a Southerner. That’s not about to change. I don’tcare how prominent this Rev. Tree is.”
Lester let out a small chuckle. “Pastor Bush,” he corrected.
“Tree, Bush, Leave, whatever,”she said, flicking her hand.“The bottom line is, that position is ours. God said so.”
He laughed again. “Oh, God said so, huh?”
Rachel nodded emphatically. “He sure did. And if God said it,then it’s so.” She grinned widely.
“Look at my baby,” Lester said proudly. “And to think, youthreatened to divorce me for entering the ministry.”
“Well, that’s because I’d spent my life as a preacher’sdaughter. I wasn’t trying to be a preacher’s wife. But I’ve gottenthe hang of it now.”
“You do make a great first lady,” Lester said, kissing heragain. “And can I say it again—you look lovely in that dress.”
“Thank you. And I’m going to make an even better first ladyon a national level.” She tightened the belt on her royal blueDiane von Furstenberg silk dress. Her attire tonight was justone indication of how far she’d come. Just a few years ago, shewould’ve shown up to an event like this in the latest Baby Phator Apple Bottoms style that she could find. And although she stillloved her some Kimora Lee Simmons, she didn’t have to wear iteverywhere.
“Congratulations, Rev. Adams,” an elderly man said as hewalked past them.
Lester stopped and smiled. “Thank you, sir.”
“I can’t wait until you officially claim that presidency,” theman said as he stepped on to the elevator.
“From your lips to God’s ears,” Lester replied as he wavedgood-bye.
Rachel waited for the elevator door to close. “See, everyoneknows you’re the man for the job. And I’m the woman that needsto be next to the man for the job.”
“Since when did this kind of stuff excite you?”Rachel’s hands went to her hips. “Since I did my homework.Do you know that the last wife of the ABC president wasinvited everywhere? To White House dinners, commencementceremonies, the Grammys—she even cohosted on The View!”
“But wasn’t she a TV journalist anyway?”
Rachel frowned. Lester and all this negativity was about towork her nerves. “That’s beside the point. Everyone knows theABC president is one of the most powerful men in the country,so that means the ABC ’s president’s wife would be one of themost powerful women.”
“I’m just saying, don’t get ahead of yourself.”
“Whatever, Lester.”Rachel rolled her eyes. She’d beeneuphoric since they announced he’d won the election an hourago. Of course, she always knew he would, but hearing itconfirmed was the icing on the cake.
As thoughts of hanging out with Michelle Obama danced inher head, Rachel once again smiled.
“Rachel, I see your mind working.”
“Just trying to determine where I’ll get my dress for yourinduction ceremony.” Maybe she could get Kimora to design hersomething personally.
She put her finger to his lips. “Shhhh,” she said, draping herarm through his. “Let’s just savor the moment tonight. Let’s goback in, mingle with the people, and enjoy ourselves. My dadand Brenda have the kids, so the night is all ours. Tomorrow,we’ll talk about the national election.” Rachel decided to justchange the subject because she didn’t care what Lester said,he would win the national election. And if this Reverend Bushproved to be a problem, well, Rachel might just have to revertto her old bag of tricks—just for a moment—to make sure thathe wasn’t a threat. She wasn’t going to let anything, or anyone,stand in the way of claiming what was destined to be hers.


Did not finish

My thoughts:

Sinners and Saints is not a book for me. I started it thinking I might like it, but I couldn't finish it. It was very boring and I now know I do not like urban novels.

I only read to chapter four, but that was more than enough. There was too much talk about President Obama, Reverend Wright, etc. - I just didn't like that.

I'm sure there are other people that would like Sinners and Saints, but as I said, I didn't.


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