Mama Dearest

( 86 )

Overview


Diva supreme Yancey Harrington Braxton is working her way back to Broadway and beyond—and stirring up drama in and out of the spotlight—in the acclaimed New York Times bestseller from E. Lynn Harris.

After being out on tour, the ambitious singer and actress is fired up to move past her recent setbacks—including an explosive romance with NFL tight end John Basil Henderson—and prove her talents are stronger ...

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Mama Dearest

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Overview


Diva supreme Yancey Harrington Braxton is working her way back to Broadway and beyond—and stirring up drama in and out of the spotlight—in the acclaimed New York Times bestseller from E. Lynn Harris.

After being out on tour, the ambitious singer and actress is fired up to move past her recent setbacks—including an explosive romance with NFL tight end John Basil Henderson—and prove her talents are stronger than ever. What Yancey really wants is to star in her own reality TV series, and she’s even found a rich and well-connected lover to make it happen. There are, however, two women fierce enough to derail Yancey’s comeback dreams: Madison B., a hot new bombshell taking the music industry by storm, and Ava Middlebrooks, who happens to be Yancey’s own mama dearest.

Not even a stint in prison for attempted murder has curbed Ava’s competitive nature. Now she will bring down her #1 rival—her own daughter—by using Madison B. to turn Yancey’s world upside-down. . . .

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Yancey Harrington Braxton returns in bestseller E. Lynn Harris’s (A Love of My Own) sadly last novel (the author died in July) for another sex and betrayal–filled romp. Diva Yancey, fast fading into Z-list territory, is nearly broke and acting in a traveling production of Dreamgirls, reprising her role in the original theater production with a bunch of hacks. Then she meets and is immediately impressed by wealthy S. Marcus Pinkston, who wants to produce a reality TV show he claims will rejuvenate her career. Simultaneously, Yancey’s mother, Ava, is released from prison with a devious plan for revenge. And when Ava’s on the scene, it means deception, trickery and the revelation of Yancey’s innermost secrets. Throw in some ex-lovers along with Madison, the daughter Yancy gave up years ago who’s now back on the scene as her mother’s major show biz competitor, and ride the wave of high drama to Yancey’s redemption and ultimate happiness. Nobody ever said entertainment had to be plausible. (Oct.)
Library Journal
The late Harris's final novel brings back femme fatale Yancey Harrington Braxton (Any Way the Wind Blows), who is determined to get back on top of her game after suffering setbacks in her acting career. She reminds herself that she had been taught by the best diva bitch of them all, Ms. Ava Middlebrook, Yancey's show biz mother and longtime rival. It looks as if Yancey has hit pay dirt when she meets the handsome and successful S. Marcus, who shows a genuine interest in her career. But then her narcissistic mother comes back into her life, seeking payback for Ava's role in getting her locked down for seven years. At the same time, a younger, more beautiful starlet appears on the scene: Miss Maddison B., the daughter that Yancey gave up for adoption when she was in college…or so she thought. Harris offers something for everyone: mystery, romance, betrayal, intrigue, and revenge. He also brings back some old characters and introduces a few new ones to make this a great read. VERDICT Harris fans will anticipate this one, and readers who enjoy other African American authors like Victoria Christopher, Carl Weber, Connie Briscoe, and Kimberla Lawson Roby will be lining up as well. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/09.]—Carol Johnson, Cleveland P.L.
Kirkus Reviews
Delicious diva Yancey Harrington Braxton's grand scheme to make her showbiz comeback is complicated by her newly sprung jailbird mother-and a painful secret from the past. Her career trajectory cooling off, actress/singer Yancey finds herself in Miami starring in a production of Dreamgirls, a gig that offers her a steady paycheck but nowhere near the adulation to which she feels entitled. Acutely aware that she is not getting any younger and contemplating selling the pricey New York City townhouse she can no longer afford, Yancey sees her luck improving when she meets oh-so-fine S. Marcus Pinkston outside a Miami club. Great in bed and loaded (he drives an Aston Martin, no less), S. Marcus certainly seems to be smitten with his new lady and even offers to boost her back on top by getting Yancey her own reality-show deal. Sweet! But while that is being worked out, and unbeknownst to Yancey, her mother Ava is released early from prison, where she was serving time for killing a man. A nasty piece of work who makes the self-centered Yancey seem like a kindergarten teacher, Ava claims she is eager to reconnect with her only child, but secretly plots revenge, blaming Yancey for ruining her life. She moves into her daughter's house and enlists dimwitted fellow ex-con Lyrical and her drug-dealing thug boyfriend Donnie Ray to help with her plan. Meanwhile, Yancey learns that the daughter she gave up while in college has grown into teen singing sensation Madison B, a sweet girl raised well by Yancey's ex. That Madison happens to be worth millions is not lost on Yancey, who tries to respect the girl's privacy, while facing her many regrets. Madison aches for a mother's love, but could she ever trustthe woman who sat out the first 16 years of her life? Ava works her own angles, showing Yancey everything that a mother should not be. This sequel to Not a Day Goes By (2000) delivers plenty of catty dish with a dash of sentimentality. Fans of Harris, who died in July, will lap it up.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451627114
  • Publisher: Gallery Books/Karen Hunter Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/26/2011
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 1,441,491
  • Product dimensions: 3.96 (w) x 6.66 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

E. Lynn Harris

E. Lynn Harris, a #1 national and New York Times bestselling author, wrote twelve acclaimed novels including Basketball Jones, Just Too Good to Be True, and I Say a Little Prayer. There are more than four million copies of his novels in print. He died in 2009 at the age of 54. Visit elynnharris.com.

Karen Hunter is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, a celebrated radio talk-show host, and coauthor of numerous New York Times bestsellers, including Confessions of a Video Vixen, On the Down Low, and Wendy’s Got the Heat. She is also an assistant professor in the Film & Media Department at Hunter College.

Biography

Jackie Collins has kept the literary romance world well stocked with claws-out, upper-crust melodramas. But until E. Lynn Harris came along, the genre lacked a little ... diversity. Harris brought diversity and then some, with his now-trademark "buppie" characters, questions about sexuality, and hopelessly (but deliciously) complicated relationships.

Written from both male and female points of view and featuring recurring characters, Harris's books can be read as a veritable soap opera. The cycle begins with Invisible Life, the story of Raymond Winston Tyler Jr. -- a character Harris has acknowledged bears many similarities to himself. Raymond grapples with his sexuality, developing a relationship with a man he meets in law school and jeopardizing one with his girlfriend. His coming-of-age continues over the next two novels in the trilogy, Just As I Am and Abide with Me, as he struggles with losses of friends to AIDS, the ending of a relationship with an actress, and the beginning of a new one with a man.

Another recurring Harris character, Basil Henderson, is the man readers love to hate. An arrogant, badass football player-turned-sports agent, Basil beds both women and men until he meets up with his female (and later, male) counterparts. His story is mainly told in Not a Day Goes By and Any Way the Wind Blows.

It's true that in the Basil Henderson books, Harris is taking a saucy cue or two from his female romance novel predecessors; but the author claims to be more heavily influenced by writers such as Maya Angelou and Terry McMillan, and it would be misleading to pigeonhole his books as purely guilty pleasures. Particularly in his earlier books, Harris brought to a mainstream readership the issues that many gay and bisexual men face, and added a new voice to the portrayal of black, upwardly mobile characters. And in books such as If This World Were Mine and the young adult novel Diaries of a Light-Skinned Colored Boy, he has addressed issues of race and self-realization.

Given his themes, it may seem surprising that the majority of Harris's readers are straight women; but it's also a testament to his ability to write about love and self-discovery with humor, not to mention a little steaminess.

Good To Know

Harris worked as a salesman for IBM, and earned a following by self-publishing Invisible Life before getting a book deal.

He was tapped to write the screenplay for an update of the 1976 movie Sparkle, to be produced by Whitney Houston's production company. But with the death of Aaliyah, who was attached to star, the project's future is uncertain.

He lived most of his adult life in Chicago, Illinois.

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    1. Hometown:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 20, 1955
    2. Place of Birth:
      Flint, Michigan
    1. Date of Death:
      July 23, 2009
    2. Place of Death:
      Los Angeles, California

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

As I savor the first sip of my second glass of wine, my eyes move to the television and I say to myself, "Yancey, that's the bitch who got your life."

Here I am in a third-rate hotel (it used to be a Days Inn) down the street from the Jackie Gleason Theater near South Beach in Miami. I'm in the second week of my role as Deena Jones in a bus-and-truck company of Dreamgirls. The producers aren't extravagant when it comes to lodging, and I can't wait until this tour is over and I can get my beautiful ass back to New York City where I belong.

I'm sitting here watching the DVD of the 2007 Grammys, and there is Beyonce singing and gliding across the stage with Tina Turner. That should've been me singing with Tina or on the stage alone, but things haven't turned out the way I'd planned. And I don't have much time before it will be too late.

My name is Yancey Harrington Braxton, and I'm a singer and actress. I've been close to stardom and even had a big pop hit at the beginning of the decade, but just as I got near Beyonce and Tina status, something happened that slammed the door in my face.

I'm thirty-six in actress years, which really means I'm a sneeze away from turning forty. At times that scares me, but thank God I still have my looks, especially a body that could compete with a twenty-year-old on the beach and in the bedroom.

I had come to Miami with a plan to make a second comeback but I'm running out of ideas. Maybe I need a stalker; then people would feel sorry for me. I could do the drug thing and go into rehab. It looks like it might work for Miss Whitney and Lord knows it ain't hurting that crazy singer from England, Amy Winehouse. I'm much too vain to put on a few pounds and then become a spokesperson for one of the weight-loss companies like Queen Latifah. But there has to be something legal that I can do to push myself back onto the national scene one last time. This is a time when it seems everybody and their mama has a reality show. Surely there is still room for a legitimate star of my caliber. Yeah, that's the ticket — I need my own reality show.

I took this job even though I hate working with a bunch of no-talent people who've never set foot on a Broadway stage unless they were pushing a broom across it, but I'd run into some tough times with my finances. Besides, I've played the role of Deena Jones since I was in my twenties and could do it in my sleep. Gone are the days when I can demand first-class transportation, suites and car service. Let's not forget my name over the title on the theater marquee. Most producers and directors aren't savvy enough to recognize talent and class in one package.

Thank God I still own a really nice town house on the Upper East Side. I'd always planned to use it as my nest egg but now when I need to sell it, the real estate market has gone to hell in a handbasket. A lot of people were interested in purchasing it, but with the banks tight with money, even so-called rich white folks are having a hard time getting a loan. My real estate agent told me that my best hope for getting my asking price is if some rich Russian falls in love with it and pays cash. I told her that she needs to get her ass on a plane to Russia quick, fast and in a hurry.

If I sell the house, I'll get myself a smaller place and there will still be enough money left over to get new headshots and some new outfits and go sit my ass in some spa where rich men hang out. I just can't take another night in a seedy hotel when somebody with as little talent as Beyonce has all the things I'm supposed to have, including a rich, powerful husband. It should be me who's the toast of the red carpet, with my own clothing line and preparing for yet another world tour.

As I watched Tina and Beyonce complete their performances and take their bows I thought, "I can sing better than both of them." I'd give them a run for their money on the dancing as well. When did it all go wrong for me and why? I was born to be a star.

I'm a statuesque five feet eight inches, 125 pounds with a twenty-two-inch waist. A beige princess with a diamond-shaped face, golden brown eyes and auburn-tinted hair that falls just below my shoulders. My arms are long and slender, almost perfect...almost. I am still as beautiful as any actress, black or white, working today. I just need to remind Hollywood of that so I can move from the D-list back to the A-list.

As I tried to figure out what I could do to get some positive press, I thought back to almost ten years before when I was on Broadway starring in yet another Dreamgirls revival. I guess I should be thankful that Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce made the movie musical. Still, I'm pissed that I couldn't even get a role as an extra in the glitzy film. Maybe the first step for me should be to get another agent and by this I mean a good one. And I don't mean somebody calling himself an agent/producer like the current fool who represents me, Zeus Miller. First of all what kind of name is that? But for now he's the best that I can do.

I finished my glass of wine and looked around the tacky room for the rest of the bottle. Another glass would ensure me of at least a sound sleep and I wouldn't spend the night worrying about how I was going to keep the bank from foreclosing on my home before I could sell it and hopefully make a nice profit or at least break even.

Just as I got up, there was a knock at my door. I figured it was housekeeping finally bringing the extra towels I'd asked for three hours ago. If I was staying in a Four Seasons or the Ritz Carlton South Beach, I would have had those towels before I hung up the phone. I miss those days more than I can say. You get what you pay for.

I pulled together my robe and opened the door.

"You got a corkscrew I can borrow for a few?" It was Violet Smith, one of the understudies for the musical and my next-door neighbor. Violet is an okay-looking young girl when she has makeup on. She'd made it to the top ten on American Star a couple seasons back and landed a small part in the Dreamgirls movie, something she never fails to tell people when she meets them. Now with shows like American Idol and So-You-Think-You-Can-Do-This-or-Do-That, any clown can have a little time in the sun. Gets on my damn nerves. When I first entered the business you had to have talent before you appeared on stage or television, let alone being cast in a movie. I have sold millions of CDs, had a number-one hit and appeared on Broadway countless times. Damn, I was even nominated for a Tony Award. I should have won and would have if Patti Lupone had taken her old ass somewhere and sat down.

Violet stood there impatiently. "Yeah, but I'm not lending it out," I said. "Bring your bottle of wine to my room and I'll open it for you." Maybe Violet will have the decency to offer me a glass and I can save my corner for later on tonight in case I wake up.

Violet gave me an are-you-serious look. "Girl, quit playing," she said, "I promise to bring it right back. I got a real nice man I met at the after-hour's club off Lincoln in my room waiting on me. I know we normally hang out and talk but I can't tonight, hon. I got some catching up to do. Some of the cast is watching the semifinals of American Star in Dalton's room. Why don't you go down there? I think they got some drinks."

I ignored her suggestion that I join a bunch of sexually confused chorus boys watching a bunch of no-talent teenagers and walked over to the desk and picked up the corkscrew I'd stolen from the hotel we'd stayed at in Tampa. It was one of the few times we'd stayed in a hotel that had a wine list and twenty-four-hour room service. Still, it wasn't a five-star hotel, but more like a two and a half.

When I turned around, Violet had let herself into my room and was sitting in the chair making herself at home. I made a mental note to make sure to let Violet know I didn't like people invading my space without my permission. I don't have roommates on the road, no matter how much money it saves.

"Did you hear who was in the audience tonight?"

"Who, Michelle Obama?" I asked, being cute.

"No, honey, but I hope that she and the president will come to this show. That would really put us on the map. It was Nicole Springer. She was one of the Deena Jones that played in the show when it was on Broadway back in the day. Do you know her?"

"No" I lied. Of course I knew Nicole Springer, and if there was one person I despised more than Beyonce it was Nicole "Miss Perfect" Springer. I'd understudied her on Broadway and plotted her demise by spiking her coffee. I don't think she ever found out or suspected me because I was a better actress than she was. I have to admit that the reason I dislike her so is that everything came so easily to her. Talented, beautiful and nice to almost everyone, and to me that took just too much work.

"That's funny, she said she knew you. Dalton and I were going to bring her to your dressing room but we were so busy talking. Dalton used to take voice lessons from her in Atlanta and was a member of her theater group. She was the one who talked him into auditioning for this show," Violet said.

I was not going to engage her in this Nicole banter so I just handed her the corkscrew. "Now don't make me have to knock on your door to get this back."

"Thanks," she said popping up from the chair, "and don't worry, you won't have to. As soon as my company leaves I will bring it back. If you don't answer I'll leave it by your door."

"Don't do that because if it comes up missing, I'm still coming back to you. Understand?" What did it say about my depressed life that I was clutching a corkscrew the way a diabetic relies on insulin.

"I hear you. Thanks, Yancey. You're the best."

I shut the door and thought, I once was the best and very soon I'll be the best again. These bitches better get out of my way!

•

I was sitting at my dressing-room table removing my makeup when I heard a knock at the door.

"Come in," I shouted.

Dalton McGurdy, the understudy for C. C. White, stuck his head in and asked if he could talk to me for a moment.

I like Dalton more than most of the chorus boys but now I was a little apprehensive since he knew Nicole. He was talented and a bit unusual. I assumed he was gay but he was also in charge of the weekly Bible studies the cast held that I never attended. I didn't see how a gay boy could conduct biweekly Bible study. But this was the theater, where conventional rules didn't apply.

"Sure, Dalton, come on in."

Dalton was light brown and on the thin side. He had an unshaven face and had recently cut his dreads, which made him look boyish and not old enough to play the main character, Effie's brother, and my love interest in the first half of the show. Thank God we didn't have any kissing scenes.

"I only need to see you for a few moments. Here's a CD of some of the songs I've written. It's classic R & B kinda like Stephanie Mills and Angela Winbush used to sing. I think you have the perfect voice for the songs."

"Okay, lay it on my dresser and I'll listen to them when I get a chance."

Why did all of these kids think they could write music or choreograph dances just because they were in a show?

"Take your time because I just found out I might have a gig in New York after this show closes and we'll have plenty of time to talk about it."

"I thought you were going back to Atlanta."

"No, hon, I'm from Athens, Georgia, you know, the University of Georgia, go bulldogs."

"What?"

"Don't mind me, I was just making a little joke, or should I say making a little cheer."

"Whatever, Dalton."

"Danni — I told you my good friends call me Danni."

"Okay, Danni," I said, wondering when we had suddenly become good friends.

"See you at the next show or maybe back at the hotel."

"Okay, whatever. Hey, I heard you were really tight with Nicole Springer."

"You mean Nicole Springer-Stovall? Oh, I just love her. She is the greatest. Ms. Stovall said she knew you back in the day."

"What did she say about me?"

"Oh, that you were really talented, beautiful and a real go-getter."

"Really?"

"Yeah, I think she respects you a lot. She encouraged me with my songwriting."

"Then why didn't you give her the songs? I remember an okay voice," I said.

"Nicole is done with that side of the business. She told me she just loves teaching and being a wife and mother."

"Oh, I forgot what they say. Those who can't, teach," I said with a wicked grin.

"Well, let me get out of here," Dalton said with slight disappointment in his voice. If he wanted to really work with me he was going to have to get over his infatuation with Nicole Springer.

"Whatever, Dalton."

Dalton left my dressing room and it was back to my mirror time.

•

Sometimes I don't like what I see in the mirror and this evening before I left for the theater was no different. I decided to do something about it. In the cramped dressing room I looked into the tiny mirror on the wall that was chipped in two places and gave myself a much needed pep talk.

I spoke swiftly and with great conviction. "Yancey Harrington Braxton, stop feeling sorry for yourself. You a bad bitch! It's time to show the world what you're really made of. What you're capable of. It starts tonight when you open the stage door. You're as good as Vanessa L. Williams, Angela Bassett and Gabrielle Union. No! Not as good as, better than all those pretend divas. A setback is a setup for a comeback, bitch. Now let's get to work." Copyright © 2009 by E. Lynn Harris

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 86 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 89 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    About my baby E Lynn Harris newest book Mama Dearest

    Anyone who knows me know that i Love E Lynn Harris,he is my number one book writer.This book like his others did not let me down it was wonderful period.So go buy it and read and start your own book club just from his books.OH HOW I LOVE HIM and miss him already.It has only been a few months since the world lost a wonderful person.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2010

    the final book

    what a great book, it took me awhile to read it because i didn't want it to end knowing it was the last book e lynn harris wrote.... I am hoping that he has some other writings that his publishers have. It was nice to see yancey and her family and friends in print again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Couldn't keep my eyes off this one!

    It was an awesome and exciting read! I read it in a few days, and I absolutely adored the storyline! It was so interesting...I think I'm going to read some more of E. Lynn Harris's books.

    This one is a definite must have for any bookreader's collection!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2012

    Great book!

    Great book!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2012

    INDREDIBLE

    I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!! This has been by far in my opinion E. Lynn Harris's best novel. I loved that Yancey has finally faced her demons and her mother, Ava, well lets just say that she had it coming. I cannot believe a mother could have that much hate for her child.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2012

    Fast read

    I enjoyed this book.

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  • Posted November 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    ughhhhhh!

    OMG this book was so stupid. I could not even get past the first chapter. There was so much name dropping it was a crying shame. I called around trying to give this trash away and no one wants it. Everyone I called says all the author's books are not good. Don't know how much truth there is to it though. From what I know E. Lynn Harris has lot of fans. Well I guess that means this book has a date with the trashman. Thank god I only paid like 3.99 for this. I will never ever buy another book from this author. ughhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This is a great E. Lynn Harris book.

    Like the other books this one was entertaining and fun to read.

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  • Posted December 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Mama Dearest

    I looked forward to the return of Yancy Braxton Harrington. I love the evolution exemplified in her character. Great conclusion to the series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    The Best Book For a sad ending

    The was one of E. Lynn Harris's best books. Even though some of the events are predictable because I read previous books of his, there were still some surprises and interesting moments. This is a book to keep because you will never be able to read something new from one of the best realistic fiction authors of our time.

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  • Posted November 15, 2009

    Another great novel with a plot to hold your attention from beginning to end.

    E. Lynn Harris last novel what a shame. This novel was perfect for a part 2. Yancy and Ava, oh boy what a pair. It explained why she ended up being such a bad friend and mother.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2009

    Keeps getting better......

    I have enjoyed every book E. Lynn Harris has written and have always been satisfied and thirsty for more. This book was thrilling! It left me on the edge of my seat until the very end. He will truly be missed.

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