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Rachel Jackson Adams could remember her mother’s words as if she’d just uttered them yesterday. When Rachel was growing up, it was one of the sayings Loretta Jackson loved most.
Well, God must be some kind of comedian because this had to be the biggest joke of all.
“Why are you sitting there with your mouth wide open?”
Rachel jumped at the sound of Lester’s voice. She’d been so engrossed in the email she’d just read, she hadn’t even heard her husband come in the house.
Rachel didn’t bother to speak as she shook her head in disbelief. “This is unbelievable,” she muttered, more to herself than to him as she leaned back in the leather office chair.
Lester set down his briefcase, walked over, and kissed his wife on the head. “What’s unbelievable? Macy’s is having a going-out-of-business sale? Dillard’s is closing early?” he joked.
The evil eye she flashed at him wiped the smile right off his face. After nine years of marriage, Lester knew when his wife was about to lose it and she was definitely on the verge right now.
“Okay, babe, what’s going on? You look like you’re about to explode,” Lester asked, all traces of laughter gone.
“I am,” Rachel snapped. She spun her laptop around to face him. “Look at this mess.”
Lester peered at the screen. “Okay, it’s an email.”
“No kidding.” She jabbed a manicured nail at the screen. “It’s an email from Yvette.”
“Who is Yvette?”
She huffed and rolled her eyes. “Good grief, Lester, the publicist for the American Baptist Coalition. You know, the woman we hired.”
“Okay, calm down,” Lester said as he continued reading. “I just didn’t immediately realize who you were talking about.” When he got to the end of the email, a huge grin spread across Lester’s face. “That is phenomenal.”
Rachel popped her husband upside the back of his head.
“Wow, what did you do that for?”
“What do you mean, it’s phenomenal?”
He looked at her, confused. “Oprah isn’t phenomenal?” She didn’t answer, just kept glaring at him like he’d done something wrong. “Sweetheart, I don’t understand,” he continued. “The American Baptist Coalition is about to be represented on Oprah and you’re upset about that?”
“You doggone right, I’m upset,” Rachel said, slamming the laptop shut. “Why in the world is she going on Oprah?”
“Lady Jasmine?” he asked, still bewildered.
“Her name ain’t no damn Lady Jasmine!” Rachel yelled. “I told you to stop calling her that. Call her Shady Jasmine, Jas, Jazzy, shoot, call her Pepper Pulaski after the name she used to use when she was a stripper for all I care, but stop calling her that like she’s some type of royalty!”
Lester took a deep breath, trying to stay calm in order to keep her calm. “Okay, let’s back up because I really don’t understand your anger.”
Her husband really and truly could work her nerves sometimes. He could be so naïve. Granted, over the years he’d gotten a little backbone and since he’d become a popular preacher, his confidence had soared. It had gone to even new heights when he’d won the election for the presidency of the American Baptist Coalition six months ago. That had been a brutal fight—not between Lester and the man he was running against, Pastor Hosea Bush, but between Rachel and Pastor Bush’s wife, Jasmine. Things had gotten downright ugly between the two of them, but at the end of the day, Rachel had emerged victorious. Just like she knew she would.
And for the first four months, Rachel had been the shining star of the ABC. She’d increased their visibility, convinced them to hire the publicist, streamlined some of their programs, introduced a few others, and had worked around the clock to make the ABC even more powerful than it already was.
So why in the world was Jasmine the one going on Oprah?
“I’m the first lady of the American Baptist Coalition,” Rachel slowly said. “If O is gonna be talking to anybody, she needs to be talking to me.”
Lester pointed at the email. “But Yvette said Jasmine will be talking about the new community center she’s starting, Jacqueline’s Hope.”
“I don’t care what she’s talking about. It’s. Oprah. The only person that should be talking to Oprah on behalf of the ABC is me! I’m in the driver’s seat. Jasmine is back in the bed of the pickup truck. So why is it that every time I turn around, Jasmine don’t-nobody-wanna-say-all-them-dang-last-names is getting all the attention?”
That brought a small smile to Lester’s face. “Bush. Her name is Jasmine Bush.” He chuckled. “As if you didn’t know.”
Rachel waved him off. “She’s been married thirty times so I can’t keep up. Why are you taking up for her, anyway?” The disdain Rachel held for Jasmine was no secret. The bourgie, over-the-top troll had caused her enough headaches to last a lifetime.
“Rachel, you get your fair share of press, too,” he said, soothingly. “You just did a TV appearance last week.”
“Yeah, on Fox 26 News. That’s local. I’m a global type of woman and I’m resigned to local press? That’s unacceptable.”
“Oh, you’re global now.” He laughed.
Rachel stood, her hands plastered on her hips. Sure, this type of thing didn’t used to be her forte, particularly since she had been a reluctant first lady. But after some rough patches, she’d come to like the power that came along with being an esteemed first lady. “Lester Eugene Adams, I don’t see anything funny.”
He immediately wiped the smile off his face. “Sweetheart,” he said gently, “this really is good news.”
Rachel relaxed a bit, even though her anger didn’t subside. “Why is she always trying to steal my thunder? We won this election fair and square, yet she has been the bane of my existence for the past few months. She thinks because she has Moses’ mama on her side, she can just take over.”
Lester sighed. “You promised to stop talking about Mae Frances like that.”
Rachel didn’t even want to get into a debate with Lester about that crazy old woman who walked around in a matted full-length mink coat that she probably got at an estate sale in 1967. The Bushes claimed that Mae Frances was just a family friend, but something about that old woman turned Rachel’s stomach.
“Lester, I don’t care about that old hag—or Mae Frances,” Rachel quipped.
“I thought you and Jasmine were getting along,” Lester replied.
“No, Jasmine recognized that she lost the election fair and square. And I thought not hearing from her for four months meant that she was gracious in defeat. But she was just plotting to see how she could steal my shine.”
After the election, Jasmine had all but disappeared—thankfully. She’d hadn’t even bothered to reply to the email Rachel sent asking if Jasmine wanted to be her assistant. Then last month, out of the blue, she’d sent the board a press release talking about the center she was opening in honor of her little girl who’d been kidnapped. As a mother, Rachel could sympathize with not knowing where your child was. But they’d found the little girl, and still Jasmine milked sympathy every chance she could.
Rachel felt disrespected because Jasmine hadn’t even bothered to talk to her about the center. Then, she’d gone over Rachel’s head and contacted the ABC ladies’ auxiliary about hosting a fund-raiser. Now, she thought she was about to give the ultimate disrespect and go on Oprah? By herself? Oh, hell no. Not if Rachel had anything to say about it!
“You do realize this is not the first time they’ve done something like this,” Rachel replied. “Do I need to remind you of the article about Hosea on Essence.com last week?”
“That was about his TV show getting syndicated.”
“And did they or did they not mention his role in the ABC? Yet, they didn’t bother to mention your name, Mr. President, at all.”
“Honey, this isn’t about me. Or you. This is about the ABC. One of the things we promised to do was bring more positive coverage. I think it’s wonderful that Jasmine is helping us do that.”
He stepped toward her and tried to take her hand. Rachel snatched it away. Sometimes she wished she could jump into her husband’s body and take it over. He could be so doggone passive-aggressive. But that was okay, she thought to herself. That’s why he had her. Because she was anything but passive.
“Fine, Lester. I’m going to start dinner. My dad will be back with the kids any minute now.”
Lester grabbed her hand and stopped her. “Are you good?”
“I’m great,” she said, feigning a smile. Rachel left the room and instead of going right into their oversized kitchen, she went left, up the spiral staircase and into her bedroom. She grabbed her purse, pulled her credit card out of her wallet, and snatched her cell phone off the nightstand. She punched in the number she knew by heart.
“United Airlines, may I help you?” the voice said.
“Yes . . . I need a ticket to Chicago . . .” Rachel smiled as she leaned back against her headboard. She thought Jasmine had learned that she wasn’t the one to be played with, but it looked like ol’ Jazzy needed to be reminded of that. So, let the games begin!
Posted March 17, 2013
I wasn't crazy about the way it started, but I am glad I didn't give up on Reshonda & Victoria. Thank you ladies for bringing Rachel, Jasmine, and, yes, even Mae Francis together. Ready for the next drama to unfold. Time to bring Cecilia King down!
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Posted June 15, 2013
In the sequel to the awesome "Sinners and Saints", Rachel and Jasmine find themselves caught up in more drama. They both seem to finally get chopped down by their own scheming and scamming ways. If it had not been for Jasmine or Rachel doing xyz, then, mno would not have happened. Both first ladies show some amazing growth in this book though they are slow to show it and admit it to themselves. I laughed out loud so much when reading this book. Jasmine and her wise cracks about Rachel and vice versa kept me rolling! Throw Mae Frances in there to save the day (doesn't she know her stuff???) and you have a dream team for a great story. I loved reading about the newest drama in the first ladies' lives. They have to get themselves out of a murder scandal! When I tell you there are twists and turns through out the book that will keep you guessing....man oh man! I quite enjoyed the story. I can't wait to see what they get into next!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
The lines were drawn in the sand during the first collaboration between Reshonda Tate Billingsley and Victoria Christopher Murray in 'Sinners and Saints'. No matter where your loyalties lie, you will thoroughly enjoy the witty repartee, colorful characters, and madcap antics of the First Ladies you love to root for.
I loved several elements in this novel:
1. At a certain point, I could not tell which writer was writing. It was that seamless. Both Billingsley and Murray know their characters and their "writing twin's" character's voice so well that it was never apparent who was writing.
2. I actually felt empathy for Rachel Adams during her tribulations in the book. She is not someone who I would befriend in real life, but she was in one of those situations that you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. And in this case, Jasmine felt the same way I did and acted accordingly.
3. Oprah. (You gotta read it to know what I mean.)
4. I closed the book and took away this blessing: Pray for your enemies. You never know what the outcome will be. God can turn anything around.
Keleigh Crigler Hadley author of Revenge, Inc.
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Posted May 7, 2013
Storyline evolves around two charaacters written by two authors. Storyline is very seamless in that I could not distinguish each writer 's style. Fast read with sometimes comedic twists as a who dunn it murder mystery.
Enjoyable as profile of women frenemies who are strongwilled and goal oriented. Definitely recommended.
Posted April 28, 2013
Rachel and Jasmine are back. This time they are playing for the same team. Say it ain’t so! And the stakes are much greater as someone has been murdered and all fingers point to Rachel. Working with each other instead of against each other changes things for this duo. Or does it?
Two minds are better than one, so it was great to see authors ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Victoria Christopher Murray team up again to bring readers their memorable characters and their crazy antics with “Friends & Foes.” The premise of the two being forced to work together because of the seriousness of the circumstances was a good one. However, how that premise played out left much to be desired. The book often felt stretched, forced, farfetched and too convenient. It lacked the substance of “Sinners & Saints” and was very predictable. Also, in the copy I read, beginning with chapter 23, the pages were out of order. It quickly became annoying for my reading flow to be hindered by constantly having to check for page numbers and flip back and forth. This went on for several chapters.
On the plus side, I do like how well Billingsley and Murray worked together. Their voices blended so well and complimented each other; one could easily feel they were reading the book of just one author. I’d love to see them work together again for more escapades of Rachel and Jasmine but the next time with a little more depth and plausibility.
Reviewed by: Toni
Posted April 8, 2013
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The lines were drawn in the sand during the first collaboration between Reshonda Tate Billingsley and Victoria Christopher Murray in 'Sinners and Saints' and the war continues in Friends & Foes, this spring. Frienemies Rachel Jackson Adams and Jasmine Larson Bush are back at it again. Rachel and Lester may be the first couple of the American Baptist Coalition, but Jasmine and Hosea are the face of the organization. Whether you’re team Jasmine or team Rachel you’re in for a fun rollercoaster. Quick witted punch lines, snappy jargon, fast paced, and simply delightful are only a few words to describe the latest installment of the series. Outrageous antics will have you laughing so hard people will want to know whats so funny. Grab your popcorn, put your kids to bed, and kiss your husband/boyfriend goodnight because you won’t be able to put this book down. With such hits as The Deal, the Dance, and the Devil (Murray) and The Devil is lie (Billingsley) respectively each author has paved a blazing career that continues to astound readers new and old. Murray and Billingsley are a dynamic duo that keeps readers entertained and informed on every page. Whether you’re just starting the series or pick it up in a book club selection you’re sure to love what unfolds before your eyes. Friends and Foes is a must read and a book that deserves its own place on your bookshelf respectively.
Posted April 8, 2013
Trying times and finding true sisterhood....I love both authors and have now passed the collections and recommended them to fellow avid readers....Ladies this book was hilarious...as usual Mae Francis is a riot...bringing Jasmine and Rachel back at each other full circle and creating a bound between them shows real sisterhood. I can't wait to see what you two have in store for these two first ladies. Ever thought of throwing a little of that Crazy Reverend Black or his daughter in the mix that Kimberla Lawson Roby writes about? A persons faith is always tried but being able to overcome in true adversity shows true dedication. The depiction of that test was evident in this story. The devil is always busy and in our true human forms we also have our own motives of doing things until we figure out that sometimes the best reward is the one that we do not see. Ladies...Kudos anxiously awaiting your next books....Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 6, 2013
The genius collaboration of Victoria and ReShonda continues with the modern day Lucy and Ethel. Jasmine and Rachel are back with their antics which are hilarious and not for the weak (or sensitive). True frienemies for life!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 4, 2013
Jasmine and Rachel make good frienemies. From the beginning to the end those two characters never failed me. It was good to see a friendship start between the two of them.
Jasel (Jasmine and Rachel) really made me wonder on how they were going to pull off the murder. My favorite part of the book is the argument between Jasmine and Rachel. I hope there will be third book with Jasel.
Posted March 26, 2013
Exciting from beginning to end. I wanted to see Jasmine and Hose as first family though. I want to see Cecila GO DOWN DOWN DOWN. Mae Francis, I am still trying to figure her out.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 15, 2014
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Posted April 12, 2013
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Posted May 30, 2013
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