on June 16, 2010
"In My Father's House" was to be the first in a new series by author E. Lynn Harris. In this novel he introduces Bentley Dean, Miami resident and owner of a modeling agency. A former resident of Detroit, and in fact nearly Detroit royalty, Bentley left Detroit and his father behind when he broke a family-approved engagement to live life with his male partner. This decision left Bentley estranged from his family and still struggling to build the life and success his wants.
Having reconstructed a family of his own based on business partners and friends, Bentley is struggling to make a go of his business due to the recession and his love life due to a man who is not as ready to live life openly gay as is Bentley. The struggles he is facing cause him to make some tough decisions - both financially and personally. The book follows his life during these life-altering decisions that bring both promises of success and danger to Bentley.
I suspect that in some ways, E. Lynn Harris may have still be fine tuning the novel before his death, yet it is a satisfying story in many ways. Unfortunately as it was planned as the first in a series it ends in a less that satisfying cliff hanger and almost abruptly.
That aside, I mourned the loss of this genre-changing authors as I read this, presumably his last novel
Bentley L. Dean III abandoned his life of wealth after being ostracized for his same sex preference. He and best friend Alexandria established an up and coming legitimate modeling agency. A lucrative business proposal glistens in its presentation to Bentley although his intuition tells him that this request poses a dark and dangerous threat to his health as well as his business. The business venture requires gorgeous gay friendly models that have to sign a disclosure promising to never tell who or what happens at this party with big name celebrities attending. Jahron Anthony Borden is a young gay man that Bentley's welcomed into his world as a brother and tries to steer him from the evils of the world. All the while Bentley's yearns for his father's love and to be welcomed back into the fold.
E. Lynn Harris' latest literary project is as fulfilling as his previous works. He dares to tackle the subject of homosexuality by portraying it in a fashion that is discreet, truthful, as well as dignified. Young Bentley chose to live his life without apology and separated himself from his family and their wealth, was it really worth it? Is true love truly an option for a `gay' man when so many wants the fruits as long as it's behind closed doors? How real is the danger that lurks in the shadows? Will Bentley's intentions be enough to shield young Jah from the evils that await him and his sexual preference? Will Bentley humble himself and chose his father's love over the love of the clandestine lifestyle? Or will Bentley's father release his biased opinion and accept his son as is before it's too late? In My Father's House, Mr. Harris depicts choices, reactions, misery, love, hate, cruelty, callousness, prejudices, disgrace, perseverance, faith, death, and courage. Mr. Harris did a thorough job in eliciting real and raw emotions as well as believable scenarios that pique the reader's curiosity. As usual, Mr. Harris mos def delivered in all aspects of this charming novel. 4.18****
I happen to have cherished reading E. Lynn's latest, In My Father's House. It's parallel to a modern day, African-American soap opera.
Former model, Bentley L. Dean is the proud owner of a modeling agency in the luxurious South Beach area. Due to the economy, business has stalled. Bentley is then approached by Sterling Seed, who's in dire need for male models for his wealthy client's party.
Bentley's dream of revitalizing his agency has him walking on air until he learns that his impressionable pal, Jah, has naively fell in love with Seth Sinclair, the most powerful African-American in Hollywood.
As business begins to escalate, Bentley realizes that he's doing business with the devil. In My Father's House is filled with unsavory and sickening characters and loads of suspense. In truth, I'm deeming it my favorite E. Lynn Harris read.
Favorite Character(s): Bentley (I loved his fatherly treatment of Jah)
Least Favorite Character(s): Seth Sinclair (closet, married gay men infuriate me)
What did you enjoy about the book? I loved that it rivaled a soap opera.
What didn't you enjoy about the book? The ending was shocking and a bit disheartening. I truly wanted to witness the destruction of Seth Sinclair.
Final rating: 4 / 5 stars
First of all, I'm sorry to know that E.Lynn Harris has passed away. I thank God for him because if it wasn't for him, the fiction that he wrote wouldn't have brought the awareness that we have of gay life as we know it. He will truly be missed and in this last offering, I kind of didn't want to see the book end. You have this young man, Bentley Dean the Third, who comes from privilege, but alas, he's gay. He tells his fiancee the truth, and in spite of it, she STILL wants to stay with him mainly to save face. His father gives him the boot, and he starts life as a model in New York, then move to Miami where he co-owns a model agency with Alex, who he also considers a friend. He is also mentoring a young 18 year old Jah, who was in foster care, but is doing well and in college. The story opens with Bentley and Alex's business in trouble due to the recession and a breath of fresh air(or stale depending on the reader)comes in the door offering Bentley mega bucks to produce fifteen men to come to an exclusive, all male private and pricey party with a hint of "something extra" if all agrees. To Bentley, though with scruples, it is the answer to his prayers until the evening of the party, one of the men back out and not knowing who else to ask, gets Jah, to come in at the last minute to round out the set. Well, it worked. Too darn well, because Jah is taken in by THE highest roller in the party, a guy named Seth Sinclair, an African American actor, very married with kids but with a penchant for young boys and Bentley's antenna goes WAY UP!! then also at the same party is Bentley's former lover, Warren, an ex football star/commentator who is in deep denial over his own sexuality but has the fondest of feelings for Bentley. The stakes get real high when Jah gets seduced by Seth's lifestyle and begin to neglect his own. Bentley is forced to play mama bear to his cub to prevent any mishaps but it all falls on deaf ears. When he tries to distract him with a plumb assignment in another city, it is then he finds out inadvertantly about another ex-boyfriend of the same lover Jah has who is now in a deep coma after being beat up pretty bad, which raises Bentley's antenna through the roof. Caught between his protegee, his business and his own life, Bentley has to come his own way on how to proceed. Won't spoil it for those who love and admire E.Lynn, and I won't. But I tell you, the book kept me glued most of last night and I didn't get unglued until I finished it this afternoon so whether you want to or not, get a copy. One more thing. I kind of wish there were more installments. I know that is not possible but I do.
on July 27, 2014
Bentley has been disowned by his father for choosing an alternative lifestyle, but he is determined to make it on his own. He is met with numerous twists and turns, as well as a secret society that might be detrimental to all who get involved.
I could not put this book down and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good read. The literary world definitely misses E. Lynn Harris. Rest In Paradise!
on August 21, 2014
I rarely read fictional drama, but I always turn to E. Lynn Harris when I want to indulge. "In My Father's House" is a glossy, glamorous, exciting and fun read. Not sure if the title is befitting, but oh well. I've read this book several times and love it more each time!
I know some will jump on my review because I've given it just two stars and because it's E. Lynn Harris' last book due to his death but I have to say this was one mess of a book. The description of the book gives the impression that this book will be about a black man dealing with his sexuality which creates tension and conflict between him and his father. That's even the impression you get from the title of the book alone. In actuality, the main character's daddy issues is reduced to a subplot. The description of the book even makes it seem like this may be a book about 'down-low' culture with the main character, Bentley, being caught between his love for a woman and a man. Well, that plot alone is wrapped-up in the prologue. What this book's really about: Bentley comes from a life of privilege and money. He realizes he's not straight, accepts it, his father seemingly disowns him. He moves to Miami to make a life for himself and doesn't want any help from his father. His desire to make it on his own leads him to a business deal that lands him and people in his life in a curious, dangerous situation. The plot is a lot like 'Showgirls'and 'Noah's Arc' meets 'America's Next Top Model' except it features mainly black men, lots of sex, and little plot. I guess on that last note, it's a lot like 'Next Top Model'.
The Good: As with most E. Lynn Harris work, the best thing about the book is that it's written with a gay African-American reader in mind. The main character is black, his family is of course black, the guys he encounters are black and the language of the book is really ... black. I don't think this book was written for women or people outside of the African-American community. It seems very focused in on delivering language, drama and a culture that gay/bisexual/down-lo black males would get and understand. It really holds nothing back, really putting in print what a gay male may encounter without any niceness of censorship: the sex, the thoughts in the characters minds, the feel of the book is very street/urban and real. If you're tired of reading gay novels written just for white audiences, then pick this up because you'll no doubt find it entertaining and refreshing.
The Bad: Here's where my complaints come in. First, what I liked about E. Lynn Harris' work in the past was that while it was written for African-Americans and GLBT audiences, the novels had a plot, something of a message or something that's really being examined and explored, all wrapped into a soap opera-like plot. While there were erotic or sex scenes in those novels, nothing felt over-the-top. Well, this book felt very explicit just for the sake of rescuing a rather dull plot. I mean, even being a gay male, I felt a bit turned off by this novel because the sex scenes felt as if they were injected into the book to liven it up and cover-up the fact that the main premise of the book wasn't that strong. If you take out the graphic sex scenes (and I mean graphic, as in nothing at all is left to the imagination) then you're left with a rather lame and 'been there, done that' plot. Another complaint is that the big plot of the book felt unfinished and dropped. The majority of the book dealt with Bentley either having sex, looking at men, or trying to save a foolish youth character. The whole plot dealing with Bentley trying to rescue and protect a young man he's taken under his wing whose become jaded by the promise of fame and love has been done to death in books and it takes over the entire book. There was a point toward the end when things perk up ... but then everything is quickly wrapped up in a nice bow-tie in the final pages and left me going, "That's IT?!" Considering Harris' death, I doubt this book will go through many revisions (I read an advance copy) and if it does, then I doubt Harris was the one to do it.
In all, I was let down by the book. It felt very amateurish, rushed and just sub-par for E. Lynn Harris' standards. Yes, perhaps his health and untimely death had something to do with it but the book I read was definitely not worth purchasing. Skip it.
Readers will miss E. Lynn Harris even more after reading In My Father's House. His talent for story telling is undeniably uniquely delivered. Harris penned a story of betrayal, love, and a secret society.
Bentley L. Dean is the sexy co-owner of Perfect Picture, a modeling agency. Due to the economy, business is not booming like it would be normally. During these times, Bentley misses his father more and more. No, his father is not deceased, but he wants nothing to do with Bentley while he is living the life that he is living. Doing as his father wishes could alleviate all his financial woes. Will Bentley forget the lessons he learned from his father? Or, will he continue to struggle causing him to do things he never saw himself doing? But is not every person entitled to love in all aspects of their life?
Jah is a college student Bentley has taken under his wings. Bentley encourages Jah to focus on school because something is missing from his life. However, when Jah has the opportunity of a lifetime, he jumps at the chance. He believes he will finally have all that he has been missing and much, much more. Is it really the thing he has been looking for? Or, will this be the final straw that will break him down to nothing?
There are so many layers to this book. Harris created characters whose emotions were raw and real. I got mad when they were mad. The relationships seemed so real. The thing that saddens me is Harris is no longer here to complete the lives of the people he created. I recommend In My Father's House to fans of E. Lynn Harris's work and to readers who have no issues with reading about homosexual relationships.
The publisher provided a copy of the book for review purposes.
IN MY FATHER'S HOUSE by E. Lynn Harris is about Bentley L. Dean, owner of one of the hottest modeling agencies in Miami, FL. Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, from a wealthy family, he could have had the world at his fingertips. Bentley, was engaged to a beautiful woman that adored him, but Bentley felt he was living a lie. He was in love with someone else...a man. When Bentley "came out" he was disowned by his father. Haunted by the hurt he inflicted on his father he flees to Miami to make a name for himself, without the backing of his father.
Bentley has literally been struggling to make ends meet. With the economy the way it is, it has been affecting business and with the bills rolling in he is desperate to get some business generated. That is until an opportunity walks through the door, offering him a lucrative deal, that deep down he knows is just "too good to be true." Desperation will make you overlook certain things though.
IN MY FATHER'S HOUSE by E. Lynn Harris is one of several of his novels that he was working on right before his untimely death. It is a story of love, forgiveness, lies and deceit. Apparently, this is one of the first in this series. IN MY FATHER'S HOUSE was a quick, entertaining read. I hope we will get the chance to read more of this series.
Reviewed by Leona
Total Eclipse Magazine
Final Rating: 3.5 stars
on December 28, 2010
Let me start by saying I am a HUGE E.Lynn Harris fan and I am still shocked and saddened by his untimely death. However, that being said, this book was a great disappointment. The story line was very incomplete. The relationship with the main character's parents was not developed well, and the storyline with the damsel in distress Jah, wasn't quite believable...well Jah's troubles weren't quite believable. The book never addressed the "what happened factor"...how did things work out between him and his dad? What happened between his parents? What happened to his company? What happened to the Emperor and his crew? Heck what happened to the Diva Gabriel? (and why wasn't his story expanded upon?) What happened with Alexandra's quest for for motherhood? You get the point....a lot of unanswered questions...Also, Mr. Harris usually does a great job in creating appropriate, tasteful, sex scenes, but I found this book to be very graphic, to the point of making me cringe and fast forwarding...Lastly, it would have been nice if certain dialogue used in the book was explained a little better for those of us not privy to its meaning! lol...example the use of "bois or boi...instead of boys or boy".
Do not get me wrong, the book is a page turner...you want to know what is happening in the story...the problem is you never the get the answers you seek....sorry....