Review: Love's Serenade
LOVE'S SERENADE - Sheryl Lister
NYLA
BUY

March 2018
Historical Romance
REVIEWER:  Brenda Larnell| RATING: A+
REVIEW: The time is the late 1920’s and the place is Harlem, New York. The heroine, Leigh Jones, escapes an uneventful life in Magnolia, Arkansas and creates a new life for herself by migrating to Harlem, New York to hone her talent as a jazz and blues singer. Upon leaving Arkansas, Leigh, whose real name is Mary Lee Johnson, is accompanied by the equally talented piano player, and the love of her life, Miles Cooper, until he abandons her.

Leigh Jones is a woman on a mission. In spite of being abandoned by Miles, she never gives up on her dream of becoming a successful singer. Whether it’s a rent party, a speakeasy, or sharing the stage with a headliner at her best friend’s club, The Magnolia, Leigh makes it her business to step up to the mic and give her best. Of course, just as she becomes the headliner at the Magnolia, Miles shows up. This is where author Sheryl Lister gets into the heart and soul of the story.

Both of these talented and gifted artists have past family issues that explain their current situations. I like both of these characters, and I like how they complement each other with music serving as the common denominator. Their backstories are credible and pertinent. Leigh and Miles represent the young, gifted, and black performers of the Harlem Renaissance era.

Although Miles and Leigh are not famous, they are nevertheless part of that cultural movement. This era is brilliantly depicted via their story. The reader gets a feel of the vibrant atmosphere of that time in history by references to The Cotton Club, sculptress Edmonia Lewis, A’Lelia Walker’s (Madame C.J. Walker’s daughter) salon that she called the Dark Tower, and such notables as Langston Hughes, and Zola Neale Hurston. Kudos to Sheryl Lister for smoothly linking this exceptional historical period with a great romantic trope of second chance love. Leigh and Miles’ love story is touching. They are two talented individuals, but together they become a “serenade to love”. You’ll get that when you read the story.

The minor characters are well-developed, and they help to move the storyline along. There are good ones and those not so good. However, my vote goes to the dastardly, Percy, who not only stole something of value from Leigh, but also tried to steal her. [Side Note: In the story, Miles gifts Leigh a beautiful sculpture created by an artist named Ava Lydell of San Francisco. Remember that name; you’ll see it again.]

I loved this story! The Harlem Renaissance is one of my favorite periods in history, and it was so gratifying to read about it in a compelling and captivating romantic story. This series is wonderful, and the stories get better and better.
LOVE’S SERENADE is an impressive tribute to the Romance genre and the historic Harlem Renaissance. It is also a valuable addition to the Decades: A Journey of African American Romance series, and I recommend it.

1st March 2018 | romcol@caribsurf.com