Zion, Illinois, January 2010
My name is Julia Scott Cheeks. I was born in Eighty-Eight, Mississippi, on the 3rd of January, 1934.
I don’t recall a whole lot about life Mississippi, which is probably a good thing, given all the unpleasantness of the era. I only lived there for seven years, with my mother and my paternal grandparents, until Mama and I moved to suburban Chicago. I have no memories of my parents living together—my father was attending the Howard University School of Law in Washington when I was born, then went to Chicago to open his practice—but he always provided for us. In Chicago he met a wealthy white couple who were looking for a housekeeper able to communicate with their deaf teenage son. Since Mama was deaf and knew sign language (she’d learned to sign at a school in North Carolina, which although segregated was one of the few in the South that accepted black students) they agreed to hire her.
I just celebrated my 76th birthday, and to paraphrase the title of that Jimmy Stewart holiday movie, it’s been a wonderful life. My family is at the top of my priority list. I met my husband, Melvin, at a dance back in 1954, when I was living in Chicago with Daddy and attending the University of Chicago. Melvin was attending the Teacher’s College…at that time a person could work their way through. We’re both retired grade school teachers and have three children: Two daughters, Faye and Robin; and a son, Scott. We have four grandchildren. Melvin will be 80 later this year and has had some health problems, and I’m grateful for each new day I get to spend with him. He is truly the man of my heart…
I love all my kids, but when it comes to relating to them, I understand my eldest, Faye, the best. I guess it’s because Faye’s life has been the most like mine. She’s 53, happily married with two grown daughters and has a rewarding career as a wound care nurse. My son, Scott, is a marketing manager. He’s been my wild child ever since he discovered the opposite sex, so Melvin and I were delighted when he finally settled down. He married a lovely girl, whom we knew well because she’s a close friend of our daughter Robin, and had two lovely children, but after a dozen years decided he wanted to be single again. He was well into his 40s at the time, and little has changed. He recently turned 50 and is still chasing tail. I worry about him.
As for Robin, she was particularly affected by her grandmother’s deafness (Mama lived with Melvin and me from the time Faye was a baby) and did us all proud when she became an audiologist. Robin’s hearing is fine, thank God, but she’s always been plagued by female problems, and she wasn’t able to get pregnant. She tried to compensate in other ways...luxury cars, a ridiculously large house on the banks of Lake Michigan…and for a long time it worked. Then Avaughn, her husband, started having an affair. He gave himself away in a most unfortunate manner—he called out his girlfriend’s name during relations with Robin—and she filed for divorce after eighteen years of marriage.
My daughters and I are particularly close. I’m an only child, and even though Melvin always wanted a son, I always dreamed of having two girls so they’d each have a sister. I’m happy to say we both got our wish. Faye and Robin bicker sometimes…I think Robin might secretly be a little jealous of Faye’s enduring marriage and of her two kids—but they always kiss and make up. They really do adore each other.
I never had a sister, but I used to have a friend who was like a sister to me. We met on my first day of second grade the year Mama and I moved to Winnetka, Illinois. Just about all the black kids—we were called “colored” back then—were the children of house workers, and we all stuck together. Lorraine—that’s her name—and I had a falling out just before Melvin and I got married in late ‘55. I’ve seen her a few times over the years and managed to be civil, but we’ll never be real friends again…not after what she did.
I’ll tell you a secret. Sometimes I miss her. But it is what it is. We’re in our mid-70’s and haven’t seen each other since we were in our early 60’s, so I think it’s safe to say that I’ll never lay eyes on her again…
eBook only, published January 3, 2014.
This is contemporary women's fiction and does contain sex.
From the Author: Secrets & Sins contains several plot twists that I hope will come as a surprise to readers. I love getting reviews, but if you choose to write one, PLEASE be considerate of other readers who haven't read the book yet by not divulging these twists in the plot. Thank you so much! -- B.
In this sweeping, 115K-word novel, Bettye Griffin introduces readers to the Cheeks family of Zion, Illinois: Eldest daughter Faye, whose placid, orderly life is about to be disrupted in a way she never could have imagined...middle child and only son Scott, who brings new meaning to the phrase 'midlife crisis'...and youngest daughter Robin, who is divorced from but not exactly rid of her former spouse.
At the center of the story is their mother, Julia Scott Cheeks, who along with her devoted husband Melvin, has tried to keep two scandalous family secrets hidden and has been successful for 55 years...but when Robin mentions the name of the former classmate she has a romantic interest in, Julia fears that the events she has tried so hard and for so long to keep her children from knowing are in danger of being exposed...
Read more about Julia and her family in Secrets & Sins, out now! Kindle owners can get it at Amazon or at Bettye’s eStore. Readers needing EPUB formats for Nooks, Sonys, or other eReaders, or who need PDF formats can get theirs from Bettye’s eStore, where no registration is required and where eBooks always cost $1 less than at other eTailers.
Also, the prequel to Secrets & Sins is a free download! Sinner Man:A Short Prequel is available for download at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and the Bunderful Books website.
Bettye Griffin writes novels about romance in the real world. Her first novel, At Long Last Love, was published in 1998. Bettye expanded to women’s fiction with the publication of The People Next Door in 2005. In 2009, while still writing for a traditional publisher, Bettye launched Bunderful Books and eventually became an independent writer and publisher. In this capacity she publishes both new and backlist titles, including Something Real (2012) and Where There’s Smoke (2013). A native of Yonkers, New York, Bettye now lives, writes, and eats cheese from her home in Southeast Wisconsin. Secrets & Sins is her 24th novel and her first independently published women’s fiction.
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Genre - Women's Fiction, Family Saga
Rating – R
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