This McMillan is no Terry, but her second effort (Knowing, 1996)though fresh and original it's nothas a certain appeal.
Spice Witherspoon is a matriarch to be reckoned with and the owner of Southern Spice, the most popular restaurant in greater Detroit. Spice's two daughters have suffered in different ways from their mother's devotion to her business; and after her husband David died when the girls were teenagers, the situation got still worse. Mink, the older, is a perfectionist, driven to succeed. After years of hard work, she becomes one of the first African- American commercial pilots. But in her quest for even greater success, she neglects her family, her loving husband Dwight and beautiful daughter Azure, and launches an affair with an egomaniac that nearly destroys her. Sterling is even more blatantly self- destructive. Addicted to drugs and sex, she's the classic bad girl. When her ex-fiancé, notorious drug dealer and philanderer Bennie, gets her to make some drug runs for him, she seems headed for disaster. As for Spice herself, her love life's a mess; her brother-in-law Otis has loved her for years, but Spice feels strange dating David's brother. Then she meets Golden Witherspoon, a preacher and community activist who seems to be the man she's been waiting for. Meanwhile, Spice's best friend, Carmen, is an alcoholic: When she goes into rehab, she's forced to come to terms with the true nature of her relationship to Spice and one of her daughters, leading to a surprising but wholly unconvincing conclusion. An overwrought, cliché-laden style doesn't help. By the close, which involves the death of one of the Witherspoons, the intricacies of the family have paled in comparison to the melodrama.
Not a washthe restaurant details are realistic and engaging, and Spice is a complex characterbut, overall, far from a must- read.