Mallory Heart has a serious attitude problem. In spite of her MBA and the fact that sheís the heir to a chain of department stores, she was fired from her job. So, to get revenge she decides to open her own store that will not only offer competition to the stores that had the nerve to fire her but will hopefully give her something to pour all of her attention and love into.

However, Mallory is having trouble getting the stores off the ground. She has a great building that just needs a few modifications before it will be perfect. Unfortunately, she canít find a construction company that will put up with her surly attitude long enough to get the job done. And thatís when she meets Ellis Carson.

Mallory hires Ellisí company to make the modifications to her store and before they even meet each other they canít get along. The start date is confused, Mallory mistakes Ellis for a generic worker and treats him like some sort of peasant and she tries to boss around his workers when she doesnít know the first thing about construction.

In spite of all of this, Mallory and Ellis are unbelievably attracted to each other. They both instantly know that they arenít a good match. Mallory is used to dating Ivy League graduates, politicians and people in her own social league. Ellis couldnít be any farther from that with his humble upbringing and traditional values. Yet, neither can deny the attraction they feel. Can they move beyond their differences and find a way to be together?

Forbidden Heart is the first BET book Iíve read and I have to say that Iím impressed. The story was well plotted and the characters had depth and believability. There also were quite a few plot twists that added suspense and momentum to the story.

The character of Mallory was also particularly interesting to me because she is not a typical romance heroine. Often, the heroines of romances are martyred saints who are saddled with the job of taming their wild male love interest. In this story Mallory was much more difficult than Ellis which was a nice change of pace. And it was nice to see him break down the emotional walls she had erected to protect herself. Malloryís hidden vulnerability was well written and didnít seem unbelievable or contrived in the least.

Quite a few readers (most of whom are white, I assume) have commented that they donít feel like they could relate to characters in a book composed primarily of African-Americans. However, I hope that thinking doesnít stop anyone from reading this book. I think the internal struggles and journey towards love that Mallory and Ellis experience in this book are universal circumstances that can be appreciated by anyone who reads it.

After I read this, I discovered that there is a companion book to this one, called Foolish Heart that is about Malloryís cousin. That one came first, but I donít feel as if I lost anything having read this one first. I plan on buying Foolish Heart as soon as I get to a bookstore again soon and also will look for other books by Felicia Mason. If they are as good as this one, I will be one happy reader!

--A.B.

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