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Cheatin' in the next room

GLENN TOWNES Special to the AmNews | 5/27/2011, 2:24 p.m.

The tired cliche of "two's company and three's a crowd" reverberates with grit and attitude in an edgy new book with the greedy title, "He Was My Man First," written by New York-based writers Nancey Flowers and Courtney Parker.

The book tells the story of two women: Valentine Daye, a bad girl from deep in the heart of the 'hood-the mean streets of Brooklyn-with too many skeletons in the closet to count, and Vanessa Knight, the proverbial good girl with rich parents from the nice part of town. They are competing for the eternal love and affection of the ne'er dowell serial player Richard Washington. It's Valentine who nabs Washington first.

In the book, she says, "Rich and I have been together for nine years and been engaged for three of those years. Rich and I go back many, many years and he was my man first and will always be my man. Those other girls that he used to kick it with on the side weren't nothing serious. I understand that men cheat and those women out there who think their men don't cheat are only fooling themselves. I like to keep it real."

Throughout the book, readers will be reminded and perhaps even perplexed by the naivete of Valentine. With the familiar hard luck story of losing her parents at a young age and, by the ripe age of 15, living the gang life and kickin' it with one of the biggest drug kingpins in Brooklyn, Valentine comes across as a painfully gullible and inexperienced little girl when it comes to dealing with men-namely Richard.

Now enter into the mix a diva named Vanessa Knight and the story takes an even more interesting twist. A manipulator with a dynamite body, class, looks, style and sophistication that could wear down even the most stoic of men, Vanessa sets her sights and claws on Richard.

She writes, "When Richard was promoted to co-director, I felt it necessary to open my bag of tricks and do whatever it took to gain full access to Richard's every thought-both personal and professional. How the manipulation of sex had turned into the potential of something more was beyond my imagination."

Perhaps the most unflattering character in the entire book is Richard- but that depends on your point of view. With his Herculean performances in the bedroom, endless stamina and killer rap skills, male readers will call him "phat" and "my dawg" for playin' two women against each other at the same time. However, female readers will likely see him as nothing more than an abuser and user-a liar and a cheater.

"He Was My Man First" is a hardcore, urban contemporary novel that is blunt and raw. With plenty of steamy and passionate scenes between the key players, the book is indeed a lascivious read that will require completion in one or maybe two sittings. The storyline will hit home with thousands of men and women caught up in simillar love triangles. Lyrics from the old Mtume hit from back in the day, "You, Me and He," echo in the background throughout the book. By the way, Flowers and Parker are a literary combination that definitely works. They will have readers scrambling through the 300 or so pages of the book to find out who ends up with the "prize," if you want to call him that: Valentine or Vanessa?