The Accidental Diva by Tia Williams
This fun, sexy novel is about life and romance of Miss Billie Burke, a 26-year-old African American woman working at a major fashion magazine as a beauty editor. Miss Burke is truly "fabulous" (meaning fashionable and attractive) and very successful at what she does, even though she has never been in love and hasn't had sex in five years. When she meets the up-and-coming writer Jay Lane, she falls instantly in love. (Love, lust, whatever. She loses her head.) But the ride is a little bumpy, and she has to learn how to balance her consuming love for this man from the other side of the tracks (and he also has a tragic, troubled past) with having her own life and fulfilling her own responsibilities. She falters, but she eventually begins to figure it all out.
The good stuff -- Tia Williams' first book was a good, fun read. Her writing is clear and funny, the characters are thoroughly likeable, and the story was well developed and thorough. The women in Billie Burkeís circle of friends, with their realistic personalities and character traits, come together to show readers an excellent example of ambitious, positive black women. And the world that they live in Ė Iíll use the word again Ė itís FABULOUS. High fashion, great parties, good conversation. So, if it weren't for the almost random and porn-like sex scene on page 59 (and another one towards the end), and the constant celebrity name-dropping, I don't think I would have a single complaint. It wasn't that they were badly written -- they just threw me for a loop. For at least two pages, I thought that I was reading a scene by Zane. (For those of you who haven't read Zane, it's . . .um . . .really sexy . . .) And few of the celebrity studded passages pages reminded me of the party pages in Vibe magazine. And I don't read Vibe or Zane.
What do I read? I actually read magazines like the one that Billie works for in the book, including the several magazines that Tia Williams has worked for over the years. (I have been a Tia Williams fan myself, admiring her work in the otherwise whitebread world of the fashion industry.) I have been following the fabulous lives of supermodels and various beautiful people since I was in eighth grade. I spend plenty of time as the only Fabulous Black Girl hanging out with Fabulous White Folks who sometimes make strange comments. I air kiss my girlfriends, I can picture the Fendi and Coach bags that they carry, and I am thoroughly addicted to lip gloss. Thank goodness for that, because otherwise, the name-dropping and beauty/fashion industry references would have been totally lost on me. Either that, or totally annoying. I would not recommend this book to anyone who does not enjoy reading Elle, Vogue and the like. WARNING: If your best friend has never worn stilettos (too high) and hates to even think about lip gloss (prefers chapstick), she may not like this book.
While I generally liked and admired Billie's character, there were a few times when her actions seemed out of place. As if she had become a different person entirely, without much explanation. For instance, I had a hard time believing that a girl who had never been in love, who hadn't had sex in five years, and who was described as intelligent, nerdy, careful, and practical, would suddenly get naked in the back seat of a taxi with a man that she had just met. Huh? I have no problems with "wild and wanton," but the rest of Billie Burke just did not seem to fit with the wild, sex-crazed woman in these scenes.
But I can't deny it -- I loved reading about her Diva life, whether it was accident or not. (I still don't get the title.) The book was a fun, exciting read, another page-turner. And if high fashion and rampant air kisses don't annoy you, I think you'll enjoy this book, too.