Black activist Erica Johnson wears her causes on her sleeve—literally. With her class of beloved fourth graders depending on her to represent their concerns, Erica's ready to confront golden-boy conservative senator Mark Newman. And she's willing to suffer through a night in jail and a battle of wits with a real-life war hero, if it will help get the children the money they need.
Mark Newman's a worthy adversary. But there's a more human side to the ambitious politician with the dreamy blue eyes—from the physical pain of his war wound, to his grief over his wife's death. Though they disagree on every hot-button issue, Erica and Mark can't resist their attraction or ignore the unfinished business between them—much to the delight of those trying to use this new relationship against the senator. And when Erica starts receiving some particularly vicious hate mail she has to decide if this handsome dream from the right/wrong side of the political fence is worth risking her heart for . . . and maybe her life.
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About 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.
Read an Excerpt
"Have you got the money?" Erica muttered, glancing around the lobby, orienting herself for the task ahead.
They had just cleared security—without incident, thank God. Now, all they had to do was get upstairs and into the room. If Angelique had the money, it would all be as simple as Mom's home-baked apple pie.
"Money?" Angelique responded from somewhere over Erica's shoulder. "What money?"
Every nerve in Erica's body flared red alert. She stopped short, turning slowly toward her friend. The money was critical. If Angelique didn't have the money . . .
"You don't have the money? Why not?"
Angelique rolled her eyes and shook her head until her long braids danced on her shoulders like marionettes. "Don't freak out. I have it. But I won't need it," she corrected, waving her finger under Erica's nose. "I won't need it, because you're not actually going to do this."
Erica sighed, relief flooding through her body. Angelique wasn't funny—hadn't ever been—but as long as she still had the money . . .
"We're here, aren't we? I'm wearing it, aren't I?" Erica reminded her, keeping her voice low. It felt like every security guard in the place was checking her out as they hurried along the corridor. But that was silly. They didn't have X-ray vision. And, Erica reminded herself, last time I checked, wearing a T-shirt wasn't against the law.
Another flutter of nervousness winged itself from her throat to her heart, and Erica inhaled deeply and swallowed hard, forcing it down. When she focused on her friend again,Angelique was staring at her.
"If you actually do this, you're flat-out crazy," she pronounced. "Crazy."
"I'm not crazy, I'm committed," Erica reminded her.
"Yeah, committed. Committed is exactly what you ought to be, if you ask me." Angelique eyed the light blue blouse Erica had borrowed from her closet of tailored shirts that morning, knowing that the starched cotton was the only thing standing between the world and Erica's offensive T-shirt. "Trust me, girl. If you actually do this, you've lost it. Big-time."
"Oh, I'm going to do it, don't you worry about that," Erica said firmly, and she knew in her heart that no matter how nervous or scared she felt, the words were true. "Now, one more time: Have you got the money?"
Angelique sighed another put-upon-girlfriend sigh, and then nodded. "I've got the thousand you gave me, plus another thousand of my own in cash." She patted the supple leather of her school bag. "If it's more than that, you're SOL."
"It'll be enough," Erica asserted with more confidence than she felt. Angelique opened her mouth for yet another comment, but when Erica cut her mahogany eyes sharply toward the corridor behind them, Angelique folded her lips. They both concentrated on looking innocent and inconsequential for the uniformed Capitol police officer stationed by the elevator doors. He was big, one of those thick-chested brothers with biceps like a normal man's thighs. The thick brother stared them up and down like he suspected something. It wasn't until a big, cheese-eating grin spread across his face that Erica understood that the brother wasn't hating, he was appreciating.
And why not? Erica thought. She was pretty sure it wasn't every day he saw two young, nice-looking sisters exercising their rights as citizens by attending a congressional hearing.
When the elevator doors opened, the dude turned a bit to take in their rear views, but he didn't stop them.
Fortunately, they had the ancient elevator car to themselves.
"Two thousand should be more than enough," Erica repeated as soon as the door closed them into the old metal box.
"Are you sure?" Angelique's voice rose and Erica heard concern mingled with annoyance. "Because I don't have any more money to invest in this venture, Erica, and I have a feeling you won't like jail."
"It'll be enough!" Erica told her and pretended to be fascinated by watching the floor numbers light up over the lift's doorway, so Angelique wouldn't know just how scared she was. Oh Lord, please let it be enough, she prayed quickly. I know it's been a long time since I had a man . . . but I'm sure not ready for a woman.
"You're not going to do it."
Erica's eyes snapped to her friend's face. They were her best feature, Erica's eyes. Not that there was anything wrong with the rest of her. Even though she was smack in the middle of her thirties, she had a good figure and the hours logged at the gym to account for it. True, God had been a little generous on the top and the bottom, but any extra weight was certainly in the right places. And her skin was another blessing: creamy and smooth as an exotic coffee drink. She'd stopped processing her hair years ago and now wore it either wrapped like the women in Africa, or in long natural twists that sprang from her head like curly wires. But everyone always came back to the eyes—big and brown and deep-set in the warm oval of her face. And Erica knew how to use them, too. "Girl, you could sell ice to Eskimos with those eyes," her Gram had always said. Erica fixed her face for maximum appeal as she stared down her longtime friend, roommate and general partner in crime.
"I'm going to do it."
They had once been so much alike, but these days even their clothes bespoke the widening gap. In spite of the braids, Angelique was buttoned up and conservative in a nice suit and white blouse. In her long granny-style skirt and leather-free Birkenstock clogs, Erica looked and felt like a gypsy. Angelique must have been thinking something very similar, because she shook her head again.
"Do you have any idea how serious this is?"Unfinished Business. Copyright © by Karyn Langhorne. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was a great book funny and sad all into one but each to their own.But I AM GLAD (mark saw what love is all about) and did not give up the fight
Loved it as much as I loved A Personal Matter.
Excellent. My new favorite author.
You just never know. This book was romantic, with drama and suspense The book started off a little slow. But after the the first two pages it got hot; with Eric being a black liberal and Mark being white and a republican,this just leads to sparks. loved loved loved!
Washington DC African-American schoolteacher Erica Johnson believes in social and political activism. When her fourth grade students find causes for her to support, she literally wears their concerns with her ¿Books Not Bombs¿ t-shirt as she interrupts a Congressional hearing. Erica confronts conservative senator Mark Newman with her efforts to obtain the funding her children need.----------------- He being a gorgeous war hero, Erica assumes Mark is candy material with political ambition. She is surprised when he proves intelligent and caring even as he still suffers from his combat related injuries and grieves his wife¿s death. He remains accessible as they debate the issues, but she admits to herself Mark is a real compassionate conservative while he acknowledges she is a loving liberal. As they fall in love, his more devious opponents plan to use their interracial relationship to destroy his political career while some of his supporters send her hate mail warning her to stay away from their hero.----------------- - Karyn Langhorne has written an exciting character driven political romance that focuses deeply on the guns vs. butter redistribution issue. The lead couple is a great pairing of two intelligent individuals who believes that their position is best for most of the country each eloquently defends their side of the debate without ¿Cheneyizing¿ the other as demons. The interracial aspects of their respect and love bring out the worst in political activists yet the best in these beloved enemies. UNFINISHED BUSINESS is a winner with its mantra that all blood flows red.------------------- Harriet Klausner
This is the second novel I've read by Karyn Langhorne and as far as IR romance novels go, her writing style just doesn't work for me. The novel pulled you in fast, however it started to go down hill in the middle. Mrs. Langhorne's couples always seem to have way too much hostility towards each other. With all the tension and animosity how can they even build a relationship. A little tension and heated attraction is cute and quite interesting for a while, but throughout the whole novel it becomes tiresome. The novel also seemed a little long for me, the story could have been told in fewer chapters and pages and probably would have turned out more interesting. Once the couple became intimate I thought that maybe things would change, but they were still at each others throats, more times than I personally cared to read about. Both the characters were very hard to get along with, and if it wasn't for the physical chemistry they just didn't seem to have much in common and I couldn't begin to imagine how they could sustain a committed relationship let alone a marriage with their totally opposing views on everything. You can't build a relationship only on physical attraction and sex, especially considering his line of work, just seemed realistically impossible to me.