Street lit often deals with crime in the streets. Those streets can be in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Harlem, D.C., Baltimore, or almost any urban setting. Where there is crime, there’s also jail, aka the big house, the slammer, or the joint. Treasure Blue has written some of the most powerful jail scenes in recent street lit in his reissued Get It Girls. His female characters survive a seven-year bid locked up in a women’s penitentiary. It ain’t Club Med.
Of course there are the usual street lit settings like strip clubs, beauty parlors, hip-hop recording studios, and even lawyer offices. Street lit‚ it’s everywhere.
Pick of the Month
Campbell, Sasha. Scandals. Dafina: Kensington. Apr. 2012. 352p. ISBN 978075826942. pap. $14. F
Monica Houston finds herself broke with two daughters to support. Ex-hubby Anthony is rolling in cash, but he slacks off in paying child support. What’s a girl to do? Scandalous Gentlemen’s Club is advertising for dancers. Monica has a bangin’ body, but does she have the nerve to work the stage and pole? Sure she does. Adopting stage name Deja, Monica pulls in $300 on her first night and is on her way. An alternating story comes from Robin, an experienced stripper who calls herself Treasure. Robin likes her cash, turns tricks on the side, and is totally independent. That is until she becomes guardian to little Kyle, her nephew, because sister Deena is in jail on a murder charge. If that isn’t enough plot to handle, romance blooms with sexy Trey (for Robin) and Tremayne (for Monica). Inside a strip club is not for the faint of heart. As Robin informs Monica, Stripping can be nasty business. Preach it, sister!
VERDICT Part street novel, part sappy romance, and part crackling mystery, this novel is chockful of complicated story lines. Campbell (Confessions) keeps it moving with realistic action in and out of the club and laces her scenes with sharp street talk. It’s a page turner and is far different from the usual Kensington romance paperbacks.
Blue, Treasure. Get It Girls: A Harlem Girl Lost Novel. Cash Money Content, dist. by Atria: S.&S. Feb. 2012. 336p. ISBN 9781936399246. pap. $14.95. F
In 1981 before crack blew up the ‚Äòhood, Harlem was a mixed community of housing projects and the upper middle-class Strivers Row. Jessica Jones, 17, lives in the latter location but hangs with Tiny, Vonda, and Lynn as one of the Get It Girls. Around the block are the Lenox Avenue Girls, a mean gang of lesbians who confront the Get It Girls on prom night. A knife, a bloody murder, and courtroom lies all lead to jail on manslaughter charges for the four tight friends. Going by the motto It’s better to be judged by twelve than carried by six, the girls cope with seven years of hard time. But those Lenox Avenue Girls need to watch their backs. When Jessica gets out, crack rules the streets and she has a long memory of being done wrong.
VERDICT This repackaging of 2011’s Harlem Girl Lost 2 may serve as a replacement copy for libraries who can’t keep the original title on their shelves. The opening pages and ending are somewhat vague, but the author hits his stride describing the appalling violence behind bars.
Brown, Tracy. White Lines II: Sunny. Griffin: St. Martin’s. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9780312555238. pap. $14.99. F
Sunny Cruz has it all‚ at least on the surface. Just shy of 40, this Manhattan girl still can bring it on the modeling runway, and business ventures allow a lavish lifestyle. But she mourns Dorian, the love of her life who died ten years ago. A movie offer brings her to L.A. where she meets Malcolm, a sexy lawyer who brings in a six-figure salary. So what’s the problem? Nothing that alcohol and Percocet can’t fix. That is until Sunny stumbles onto her old love‚ cocaine. Now living two lives, Sunny struggles to keep her dark side a secret. She finds that Malcolm is all wine, cheese, and jazz, while she knows she’s Hennessy, chicken wings, and hip-hop. Opposites attract but only to a point.
VERDICT Brown’s (White Lines; Aftermath) latest is more of an intricate romance than a street novel; relationships grow complicated as jealousy builds. Still many of the characters, although they live in luxury, have a street background that comes out under pressure. When Sunny lets loose her inner Brooklyn side, look out! Brown has a big following. Buy multiples.
Chase, Naomi. Deception. Dafina: Kensington. Mar. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9780758253224. pap. $14. F
In this sequel to Exposed, ‚Äòhood attitudes continue to clash with old money. Hot mess ex-porn star Tamia Luke still wants to sink her claws into sexy Houston lawyer Brandon Chambers. Sure, she was acquitted of murder charges, but that five months in jail hasn’t cooled her loins. There’s lots of creepin’ around here. Tamia wants Brandon, Brandon is living with Cynthia, Addison throws herself at Brandon, Fiona (Tamia’s sister) is up for any guy wearing pants. Whew! These wealthy folks have loads of sexual drama swirling around like a high-octane soap opera. Throw in a secret hookup between an escort and a super-wealthy society member and, well, the drama never ends.
VERDICT There are flashes of street talk and attitude from Tamia and Fiona, but this title is more about using sex (lots and lots of sex) as a weapon and passing it off as romance. A cliff-hanging ending promises more complications in Tamia’s quest to be Brandon’s wifey. Purchase where Exposed was popular.
Genovese, Ni’chelle. Baby Momma. Urban Bks. Feb. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9781601624833. pap. $14.95. F
Rasheed is a major dealer in the Virginia Beach area, and oh, hey, female readers? Get ready to hate this street thug Lothario. He claims to be in love with Michelle, his baby momma, but he’s always running off to sex up Honey, a stripper from The Hot Spot, a club Rasheed owns. Ego oozes from this dude who claims he didn’t get where he is by being dumb. Fool! Does that include butt dialing your baby momma while in a car with Honey? Still, sex with the talented Rasheed must be awesome. He has Michelle gasping she loves him in between calling out for Jesus during a particularly sweaty session. Come to think of it, Michelle might be a bigger fool‚Ä¶or does she have an agenda?
VERDICT Although her debut has an overly complicated ending, Genovese knows street slang and effectively uses it. Yet Rasheed’s self-centered lifestyle and nastiness to women will have female readers bristling and ready to throw down this book. The title alone will draw patrons. Buy more than one copy.