Personal Matter

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Overview

Crossing the line ...

Alayna Jackson's dream is to be a lawyer — and not even being the only African-American paralegal in a high-power, lily-white law firm will hold her down. Sure it's not the perfect job, but if it helps her reach her goal — and gets her younger sister through college at the same time, Alayna will work for the devil himself — namely Ben "Ice Man" Richards, the firm's arrogant, brilliant, insufferable, and unpredictable rising star.As long as Richards curbs ...

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Overview

Crossing the line ...

Alayna Jackson's dream is to be a lawyer — and not even being the only African-American paralegal in a high-power, lily-white law firm will hold her down. Sure it's not the perfect job, but if it helps her reach her goal — and gets her younger sister through college at the same time, Alayna will work for the devil himself — namely Ben "Ice Man" Richards, the firm's arrogant, brilliant, insufferable, and unpredictable rising star.As long as Richards curbs his famous rudeness and treats her with respect, Alayna should be able to cope. But there's more to Ice Man than meets the eye, a fire smoldering beneath his hard, cool surface. And when personal disaster threatens, Alayna finds herself unlocking the doors of her private life to the last man she ever dreamed she'd let enter. And once inside, he may just alter Alayna's world and her outlook in glorious, frightening ways.

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Editorial Reviews

Romantic Times BOOKclub
“Langhorne pens a wonderful debut novel that flows smoothly, is original and has supurb character development and several meaty subplots.”
Romantic TimesBOOKclub
"Langhorne pens a wonderful debut novel that flows smoothly, is original and has supurb character development and several meaty subplots."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060747732
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/31/2004
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Karyn Langhorne is a graduate of Harvard Law School and a former law professor. No longer practicing law, she is now the host of the weekly talk show The Book Squad on WMET 1160 in the District of Columbia. When she’s not interviewing other authors, she writes. Her publications include articles on writing for Writers Digest and a weekly American Idol column (during show season) for a popular website, as well as several books of nonfiction, a dozen screenplays, and an off-Broadway play. She lives in the Washington, D.C., suburbs with her husband and two daughters.

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First Chapter

A Personal Matter

Chapter One

Lord, she was one ugly white woman.

In her sixties, probably, though with white women,who could tell? The chick's lank, bleached hair was running away from her forehead like it stole something. Skin leathery yellow from cigarettes and drawn tight around her lips like the strings of an old laundry bag. Trixie McCoy frowned deeper into her computer, attacking her keyboard ... anything to avoid giving Alayna the common courtesy of looking up.

Didn't matter, since Alayna already knew what she'd find in Trixie's flat, hard-featured face anyway: the image of a hundred Confederate soldiers on the march, whistling Dixie with every step, ready to lay down their lives for slavery and the virtue of white womanhood. You could dress up the Trixie McCoys of the world, educate them, sit them outside or inside the offices of the powerful. But if you turned their collars ... their necks were still red.

And of all the legal secretaries in the city of Atlanta, this particular model was sitting outside the office of the managing partner of this law firm and had been ever since Alayna had joined the firm five years before.

Kinda made a statement, so Alayna folded the corners of her mouth a little tighter and gave the hag a "she who must not be ignored" look that would have made Queen Nefertiti jealous.

"He in?" Alayna shrugged toward Mr. Boss Man's closed door.

Trixie lifted a scrawny shoulder: universal trailer park code for "Don't know, don't care." Alayna's fingers twitched to slap the woman's tongue loose, but she just muttered, "Thanks. Thanks a lot," and turned to find out the answer her damn self.

Of course, when Alayna raised her cocoa-colored fist to rap on lily-white Boss Man's door, Trixie remembered her job was to keep the uninvited out. She heaved herself away from her terminal and snatched up the phone.

"What you want to see him for?"

None of your damn business.

Trixie read it in her face, but Alayna answered sweetly, "A personal matter," and Trixie dialed.

A personal matter. Of about nine thousand six hundred and eighty dollars, Alayna added to herself, thinking again of the tuition bill folded at the bottom of her purse. Martine's college tuition and my own personal contribution to the United Negro College Fund.

From the crimson flush burning the tips of her ears, it was obvious Trailer Trixie was annoyed as shit that Mr. David R. Weston, Esq. acquiesced to Alayna's admittance.

Alayna swung her round, young hips a little as she stepped across the corridor. Take that, you shriveled old prune, she thought, and pulled on the handle of the managing partner's heavy wood door.

With a last-word mutter, Boss Man slammed down his phone and wiped a hand over his temples as if mopping up the remnants of his annoyance. He was one of those Humpty Dumpty-shaped white men: all soft in the center, with big jug ears and thick brows over fox-quick brown eyes. When he was in a good mood, his voice was syrupy with Southern "good ol' boy" charm. When his mood wasn't so good, his voice dropped to grunts and barks that would have made many an impatient New Yorker envious. And when he was mad, he sounded like he'd been raised in the jungle with Tarzan: "Me boss, you ... work!"

"Six o'clock. All hell's breaking loose. As usual," he grunted as Alayna let the door click shut behind her. "Glad you came by. Wanted to talk to you anyway."

"Oh?" Alayna approached his desk, arranging her face in pleasant solicitude so her dislike wouldn't show. "Something new with the Williams matter?"

Weston grimaced. The Williams matter was one of those cases: big-buck potential at the early stages, nothing but headache and trouble by the end. Scheduled for trial in a week, the opposition's sudden interest in settlement had ground Weston's patience and Alayna's trial preparations to an absolute halt.

"No, no." The pricey black leather of his chair squished wetly as Weston leaned back."A new matter."

At his nod, Alayna perched on the arm of a side chair opposite his desk and gave him a faceful of what she hoped was deferential "you first." But the truth was ... now that she was sitting here in the Boss Man's office, she was in no great hurry to launch into the I-need-a-raise song and dance. Almost automatically, her mind ran through the arguments she'd been practicing for days: how hard she worked, the number of big cases she'd managed alone, the strength of her last performance review. And, as an absolute last resort, she'd play the "race card." Remind him that of the paralegals who had worked at the firm five years or longer, she -- the black one -- was the only one yet to be promoted to senior paralegal.

But mentioning race would give him permission to bring up the ugly incident with Greta Jennings two years ago. Of course, Greta was an idiot who would have been fired eventually if Alayna hadn't helped her quit, but Alayna wasn't sure she'd come out on top with Boss Man if that was going to get tossed into the mix. Slender white girls with long blonde hair and doe-wide blue eyes always got away with being ignorant in ways a Sister never could.

Lord ... we need this money. Mama, if you're listening ... ask Jesus to send a few dozen angels to help me bring this crazy white man around ...

Boss Man still hadn't spoken, just sat there, staring at her, those shrewd brown eyes narrowing in his tired, fifty-something face. Measuring her, that's what he was doing. Running her skin tone against a paint store colorwheel. Ginger brown? No. Nutberry? Maybe. Pricing her white off-the-Macy's-sale-rack blouse -- $19.99, two for $29. Slipping a mental tape measure from her waist to the widest curve of her hips beneath the navy blue skirt ...

A Personal Matter. Copyright © by Karyn Langhorne. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 15 )
Rating Distribution

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(13)

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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2007

    A Personal Disappointment

    Not exactly what I expected. This is the first novel I've read by Ms. Langhorne. I purchased this novel because of the interesting book description and the great reviews it received. I was very disappointed! I personally couldn't get pass the bad attitudes and then the mention of the hero having B.O., YUCK! Totally lost me on that one. I have nothing against interracial relationships, but I couldn't imagine a fine sister taking up with a guy like 'Ice' with his sarcastic and cynical personality, although Ms. Alayna gave as good as she got with the witty dialogue. The relationship between the two of them just didn't work for me, their was no deep passion, no sizzlin' heat. The debut novel had an interesting plot and some interesting characters, but the romance between 'Ice' and Alayna just fizzled between the pages.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2013

    Great read.

    Great read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2010

    Great Characters and well written

    This is a great subject and continues to be an issue all over the world. This book is well written and makes the listerner think about how they view the world. Great job and this book should be a must read in high school as well as book clubs.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2007

    BLOCKBUSTER written all over it!

    this book is the most believable the best well written story (since 'color of love' by sandra kitt)!!! a dynamic read!!! i strongly urge you to read this one. watch out JJ MURRAY you have some true competition. this book do follow the everyday reality of joys and sadness, heartbreaks and humor, feelings and emotions. this book got it all and then some. i read alot of books of this subject matter. SANDRA KITT got me started then followed by JJMURRAY now five thumbs up for KARYN LANGHORNE! needless to say everyone else should read these authors and go back to the drawing board and start over. THIS BOOK IS DAMN GOOD!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2007

    BLOCKBUSTER II

    this book has Sequel written all it!!!! 'SOMETHING NEW'-- now 'A PERSONAL MATTER' in theaters soon.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2007

    A Great Read!!!

    The story hooked onto me and didn't let go until I hit the last page. This one is a constant page turner from the start. There were a couple of parts in the book that slightly lost me but it wasn't enough for me to put the book down.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2006

    A Great Interracial Love Story

    A Personal Matter takes us into the lives of Alayna, a hardworking Paralegal who lost her Mom at a very young age, and takes on the responsibility of a younger sister named Martine. The story begins where Martine is on the verge of graduating High School and going to college. So her Sister thinks. But Maritine finds that she has other plans which include getting her boyfriend to marry her. Alayna still short of the funds to get her to college is offered at her job to work with one of the toughest Lawyers in town nicknamed 'Ice Man' And as an incentive, a very large bonus. Should she dare take the risk of working for a man everyone hates and yet she finds instead of ice, a burning desire? This was a great read and the passion between them is hot. I enjoyed this book and have fallen for 'Ice' myself. I hope this Author decides to do a follow up and let us see them a year from now. A must read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2006

    One of the Best Interracial Romance Novels Out There

    I read this book in one day and a half working an extremely demanding job. I practically closed my office door and read all day then went home to finish this book. This book was humorous and real. Alyana and Ben were the perfect match for each other. I couldn't imagine anyone else for the sarcastic and cynical character that was Alyana than Ben who was just as bad. In the end they came through for each other when personal matters appeared to destroy what little faith in the world they had left. One was not overpowered by erotica, but there was enough passion here to keep one reading. Very, very entertaining. I would like to read this authors other works.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2006

    AN EXCELLENT READ!!

    This book was extremely well written and captured my attention from the very first page. I couldn't put the book down. I found myself hoping that the hero and heroine would work out all their problems and live happily ever after. Great diagolue regarding issues facing interracial couples and stereotypes that both blacks and whites have. This book will not disappoint!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2005

    LOVED IT!

    This novel was incredible. I mean right from the beginning you knew the stress that the star character, Alayna, had to deal with. But also you knew that star character, Ben, had his own dealings too. I mean this relationship was just open and honest, especially because Alayna knew how to speak her mind to anyone. Not only was the novel smart and witty, and was funny as all hell. I found myself laughing out loud. I recommend this novel to anyone trying to find them a good, no, excellent read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2005

    I would love to see this book become a sequel

    I loved the story. It was written so realistic and not real syrupy. I like the fact that Alayna wasnt afraid to speak her mind. It was also gratifying to read a story that depicted the fact that African American's sometimes have difficulty with race and tend to put White's in stereotypical roles. I would love to read a sequel of this book. Maybe explore the relationship between Martine and Jamal. This was an excellent book and I commend Ms Langhorne for getting right the first time out!!! I would definitely refer this book to others.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2004

    Incredible Debut Novel, 5+ calibre

    This book blew me away. Incredibly well written, it involves you with the characters right from the first because they are both smart and attractive, yet full of very real attitude and personality issues, and they have real-world problems and challenges that just make them that more charismatic. The conflict between the 2 main characters is fabulous and echoed by little side conflicts that make up part of life. So many things about this story struck me -- how Alayna and Ben, despite a contract not to get personal, get involved in each others' lives at deeper and deeper levels in terms of intimacy and commitment, before getting to sex. Even though the sex scenes did not start until four-fifths of the way through, make no mistake this is a sexy book. You can call this an interracial romance, but take race away and the writing and characters still stand up strong. It's a plus that Langhorne uses race brilliantly to advance the story. I enjoyed this book so much, I stayed up late to finish it, I am dopey-eyed today, and brought it with me to re-read enjoyable snippets. Being a huge Regency and thriller fan, I read very little contemporary romance, and this is the first romance I have read with an interracial theme. What an incredible debut -- I can't wait for Langhorne's next book. Hope Harper sets her up with a web-site so she can get encouraging feedback.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2004

    A Great Read

    I enjoyed this book and I liked the main character Alayna. She was dependable, smart, sassy, no-holds-barred woman. What an unlikely male lead but they worked well together. I definitely enjoyed this book.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Great debut

    In Atlanta, a partner offers paralegal Alayna Jackson a promotion if she agrees to work for hot shot attorney Ben ¿Ice Man¿ Richards on the Software International case in Alaska. Alayna would prefer to say no as Ben has a reputation for eating associates and assistances for lunch. Still Alayna needs money to pay for her younger sister¿s college tuition at Howard as she promised her dying mother......................... Alayna receives a stunner when her sibling Martine informs her she is not going to school as she will marry her boyfriend Jamal Preston, who has no future plans beyond getting a job. As Alayna copes with her sister¿s devastating decision, she refuses to take any garbage from Ben. He quickly admires her spunk and tries to be there for her during her family crisis. As they work together, Ben and Alayna fall in love, but interracial relationships let alone marriage is not a way to move up the corporate ladder........................... This is an entertaining legal romance that moves on several subplots that ultimately tie together through the heroine. The story line provides an intriguing look at a legal firm sort of mindful of The Associates and makes a poignant point on interracial couples. Though the Martine piece is cleaned up to nicely as she has choices to make, fans will appreciate this fine contemporary tale because of the delightful lead couple, flaws and more to deal with as a pairing........................ Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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