Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Butterfly Moments by Renee Bess

Publisher:             Regal Crest Enterprises

After more than twenty years as a Parole Officer in Philadelphia, Alana Blue has decided it's time to retire and try something else.  All she wants to do is tie up loose ends and that includes overseeing the probation of Rafe Ortiz, another PO who has trouble following the boundaries of her profession.  When a college student is murdered, Detective Johnetta Jones comes to Alana's office to check on her parolees and there are instant sparks.  As the action unfolds the murder, family problems and confusion over her future swirl around Alana.  It doesn't help that she finds herself attracted to both Rafe and Johnnie.  Life was supposed to be getting simpler for Alana, but it sure doesn't seem to be happening.

The Butterfly Moments calls to mind the philosophical discussion about a butterfly beating its wings in one part of the world leading to a hurricane in another area.  There are several events in the book that seem to have no relevance to each other, but eventually everything swirls together around Alana.  The coincidences in the book are a little contrived and might have been solved by expanding the story more and disconnecting some of the events.  Bess makes it work in the plot though.

What makes the book especially appealing is that it deals with mature characters who approach the creation of a relationship that way.  Alana and Johnnie don't get sexual three pages after meeting each other.  The reader will get the sense that these women have experienced life and know that there's more to being a couple than getting into bed.  What happens between them develops in a very realistic manner.  Early in the book, Alana is analyzing what she wants and opens with, "At first, I was convinced I wanted to be loved."  Then she goes on through several paragraphs to describe in a very evocative manner the way many older women, especially lesbians who don't have partners, feel.  The way that Bess develops these characters will remind the reader of people she knows.  Rafe, for example, is typical of the child-woman who refuses to admit that she's too old to play the games she can't seem to resist and so she's self-destructive.

The Butterfly Moments is a murder mystery, a romance and a study of character development that's very well written.  It would be difficult to find more reasons to read a book.

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