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Other Men's Wives: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – June 26, 2007

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Review

“When it comes to the black male voice, Freddie Lee Johnson III’s got perfect pitch.”
–CHRIS BENSON, author of Special Interest


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

ONE


Today's Wednesday, and it's our wedding anniversary. It's been five years since Sierra Darcelle Montague agreed to marry me, Denmark Vesey Wheeler, a battle-hardened street warrior from one of Cleveland, Ohio's most dangerous neighborhoods. I'm still amazed that my beautiful uptown princess said "Yes!" she'd spend her life with me, but she did, and made me the happiest man in the world. So whenever our anniversary rolls around, I always do something extra special to show her how much I love and cherish her. That's why I got up this morning at 4:15 instead of my usual 5:00 to run three miles. I wanted to be back early enough to wash up and surprise Sierra with breakfast in bed.

I step back and admire my preparations. The tray's sitting on a large white marble-topped island in our kitchen. Along with a rose in the vase on the tray, there's a small bowl filled with cantaloupe, strawberries, grapes, and passion fruit; three strips of turkey bacon cooked to the exact crispness Sierra likes; a slice of wheat toast, both sides lightly buttered; Sierra's favorite blend of Colombian mocha decaf coffee (when Felipe at Cafe Nuevo told me that he'd run out, I got on the turnpike and drove like a madman for two and a half hours from Cleveland to get some from his other store in Pittsburgh); and a small bowl of raisin bran with a cup of soy milk on the side.

This breakfast wouldn't satisfy me. I'd prefer a big bowl of grits, three sizzling pieces of scrapple, scrambled eggs with cheese, and a big mug of caffeine-rich Maxwell House. But forget my tastes. This is the food that Sierra likes, and I'm glad to fix it for her.

I glance at the big green digital numbers on the stove's clock. 6:22 a.m. It's time to get moving.

"She's going to love this," I say softly to myself.

I've got a whole day of sweet surprises planned for my baby. I've even maxed out a credit card to make sure that this anniversary is one she never forgets.

I won't start tripping about how it seems just like yesterday when we said our vows, but my love for Sierra has only gotten stronger in the past five years. I'd dated lots of talented, beautiful, smart, and accomplished women, but none of them could compare with her. Like a ray of light splitting the darkness, she stepped into my life.

Some nights when Sierra's lying in my arms and snuggled up against my chest, I look at her and relish the peace she's brought me. No matter how deeply she's sleeping, she'll stir and snuggle closer.

I pick up the tray, step off briskly for our bedroom, and review the things I need to accomplish before this evening. Tonight when Sierra and I get together I don't want any work-related Speed Shift Auto Parts business distracting my thoughts from her. So I'm going to stop in at work and see how things are going.

After that, I need to double-check with the travel agent about the party I'm throwing for Sierra in a few days at the luxurious Vegas hotel where we had our first date. Coordinating to get her family and friends to arrive there before us took some doing, but it'll be worth the effort to see the smile on Sierra's lovely face. It'll be even better the morning after the party, when I tell her that we're flying to Hawaii. Sierra's visited some of the best vacation spots on earth, but she's never been to Oahu. For her, it'll be a thrill. For me, it's a miracle, especially after growing up in the Brownfield District.

My last task will be handled when I meet the guys--Harry Bancroft and Gordon Wilhite--for breakfast down at our favorite greasy spoon, the Hog Jowls restaurant. I haven't seen them for a while, so it'll be good to catch up. We'll also need to discuss finding a fourth person to run with us in the 4 ´ 100 relay in this year's Greater Cleveland Community Sports Challenge. It's only a few weeks away, so we'll have to find someone quick. Last year, Harry's dud brother-in-law ran with us, and he was a disaster. Another good friend of mine, Mason Booker, owner and operator of the Second Shadow Enterprises private detective agency, had been training with us but had to stop with apologies when he ended up with the good problem of having too much business.

I end my list as I step quietly through the living room on my way toward the stairs leading up to the bedroom and Sierra. The stonework in the fireplace catches my eye, and I once again admire the skill of the contractor who did the job. That part of the living room remodeling project was a hassle, mostly because Sierra kept changing her mind. She'd worn the contractor's nerves thin, and mine weren't much better, trying to deal with the stress of watching our budget hemorrhage with each modification. But I'd promised Sierra a remodeled living room and fireplace for her birthday and meant to see it through to the end.

The contractor saw things differently, which explains why the fifth time Sierra called him he said: "Not on your life, lady! I've already wasted too much time on this fiasco. The plans stay the same!"

Sierra called me at work and had barely hung up before I was dialing that sucker. I appreciated his frustration, but he had to understand that I wasn't letting him disrespect my wife. When he got nasty with me, I knew we had to have a heart-to-heart talk. At dawn the next morning, when he pulled up to the trailer that was his office, I was waiting in the shadows. Twenty minutes later he was on the phone, trembling and talking through a bleeding lip as he apologized to my baby. He not only made the changes she wanted but did the work for free.

I ease quietly into our bedroom and stop, taking a moment to savor Sierra's loveliness as she lies on her side, sleeping like an ebony angel. Soft rays of bluish purple light cut through our partially open vertical blinds, stretching across Sierra, blending with her smooth, dark skin into a wonderful portrait. Her shoulder-length hair swirls over her head, the soft unruly strands melding into chaotic beauty. The peach-colored satin sheet clings to her, rising along the smooth arch of her hip and dipping back into the tight curve of her waist. The soft morning light, the peach linen, Sierra's dark skin, and her shiny hair combine into making my sweetheart look like a goddess.

I tiptoe over, set the tray on the nightstand, and sit quietly down on the edge of the bed beside Sierra. She stirs and rolls onto her back. I kiss her cheek, wrap my arms around her, and cradle her close, rubbing my nose against hers.

"Hey, sleepyhead," I say softly.

She smiles. I kiss her lips, eyes, forehead, and cheeks; the tip of her nose; and then her lips again. "I love you," I say.

Her eyes crease open. "I love you too."

"What right thing did I do to deserve you?" I ask, pulling her close and rubbing my cheek against hers.

She massages the back of my neck. "You loved me with all your heart and made me your one and only."

"I do love you, Sierra, with all my heart and strength." I kiss her neck and hug her tight. "And you'll always be my one and only."

She sighs sweetly. "I thank God for you."

God is one of those areas where Sierra and I struggle. For her, God is an omnipresent deity, possessing boundless love, power, and glory. For me, He's a lazy pot-smoking bum who's been laughing Himself silly while watching humanity stumble through a house that was on fire the day He created it.

I grew up in a household with a God-fearing mother and a Bible-thumping father. When crisis came, all their worship, prayers, and faith couldn't move God to act in our defense, so I ditched Him just like he'd done us.

"Happy fifth anniversary, darling wife," I say.

"And happy anniversary to you, darling husband."

I set the breakfast tray down in front of her. "Have some breakfast."

Sierra's eyes widen with delight. "Denmark, this looks fabulous," she says. She sniffs the rose and smiles. "Thank you, honey. Everything's just the way I like it."

I watch in satisfied silence as she closes her eyes, says a quick prayer, then tastes a spoonful of the fruit salad. "This is delicious."

I pull a lilac-scented card and envelope from my robe pocket and hand it to her. She swallows a bite of turkey bacon, cleans her fingers with a napkin, takes the card, and reads it. Her eyes mist over as she reads down each line.

She sets the tray off to the side and opens her arms wide. "Come here."

I lean over and into her embrace, wrapping my arms around her as she encircles me with hers. "You feel so good," I say.

I've never found the words to describe for Sierra the way electricity bolts through me every time I hold her. I don't know how to explain the heat that spreads through me, or the sudden dryness in my mouth. Every part of me wants to get close and love her in all the delicious ways I know how. But my baby's not an adventurous lover, preferring the tried-and-true, achingly predictable and prudish missionary style. At least she's never been stingy.

Sierra reaches inside my robe and rubs along the contours of my solid wide chest. I slip my forefinger beneath the spaghetti strap of her lavender silk gown, moving it out of the way as I kiss her shoulder. I lick along its roundness, kissing from her shoulder to her neck and back, moving my hand along her flat stomach up to her breasts. She sighs, lies back, and pulls me toward her. I stretch out beside her, kissing her tenderly and rubbing my hand back and forth along her thigh, caressing her behind, and then moving along her stomach and down to her lavender silk panties. She lifts up slightly, giving me room to pull them off, and then she helps undress me. I move over her and slowly lower myself into her passion, uniting us in the ancient ritual.

Sierra bites her lower lip and closes her eyes tight, her nostrils flaring with each inhaled breath. She wraps her legs tight arou...

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: One World/Ballantine (June 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345494962
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345494962
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,763,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J.C. Wallington on June 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
What would you do for revenge? Is revenge always the best answer? What if you avenge the wrong person? These are questions that will make you ponder as you read Freddie Lee Johnson's novel, Other Men's Wives. This novel takes a complex look at love gone wrong, the lack of communication and the ramifications of taking things into your own hands.

Sierra Wheeler is the wife of Denmark Wheeler and he loves the ground she walks on. They have been married for five years. In these five years, Denmark has been faithful, choosing only to give himself to his wife, even though temptation is rampant. Nothing could have prepared Denmark for the surprised he received via Federal Express on the day of his anniversary. The surprise sends him spiraling into a rage. Believing that one of his best friends, either philandering Harry or Gordon is the culprit, he vows to take out his anger and frustration on them. He plans to seduce their wives and destroy their relationships as his has been destroyed. His plans also include claiming as many women as he can, cause as the saying goes "Misery Loves Company.".

Denmark, in my opinion was not the most likeable character; however, Johnson did a good job in portraying him as a man with several personas. There is the businessman, regional manager of Speed Shift's Auto Supply, then the thug that climbed out of the Cleveland ghetto, the friend and the enemy. I found I enjoyed the female characters, Gordon's longsuffering wife, Alice; Harry's drunken spouse, Inez; and the attorney, Hilda. Each of their interactions with Denmark gave the story a different point of view. The ending was not quite what I expected. I was intrigued by the suspense and had to keep reading to find out the answers to all my questions.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Joan B. Stanford on August 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
Summer reading would not be complete without a light, suspenseful book to keep you entertained while relaxing by the pool. Other Men's Wives by Freddie Lee Johnson is a fast-paced read that fits the bill.

After growing up in Cleveland's dangerous Brownfield District, Denmark Wheeler, has made it out of the hood and is now a regional manager of an auto parts store and happily married to Sierra Montague Wheeler, his "beautiful uptown princess." He adores his wife and is planning several extravagant surprises for her to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. But when he receives a DVD sent anonymously, it is he who is surprised, as the images on the disc show his beloved wife engaged in explicit sexual acts with a man whose face is blurred.

After the initial shock, Denmark is livid and hell-bent on finding out the identity of the man on the DVD who is doing uninhibited things with his wife that he himself had never done. Naturally, he confronts Sierra and files for divorce, but that's not enough. Her moving out of their home is not enough. The man on the DVD must pay and feel the full wrath of his revenge. Upon re-reading the note that accompanied the disc, Denmark decides that the top two suspects are his best friends, Harry and Gordon. Harry is married to Inez, but their marriage is on the rocks because she wants kids and he doesn't. Could Harry be the unidentified man in the video? Gordon is a popular television personality, who has been known to cheat on his wife, Alice. Is it possible that he added Denmark's wife to his list of female conquests?

Although he has no concrete evidence, Denmark sets out to sleep with Inez and Alice because he's convinced that one of his boys has crossed the line.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers on April 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
Denmark Vesey Wheeler, is every woman's dream: a hard worker, nice looking and a faithful husband. He is also very much in love with his wife Sierra Montague Wheeler, and would do anything to make her happy. Denmark has never felt a love as strong as that in which he shares with Sierra. He can't believe he was able to hook such a beautiful catch. Sierra has Denmark's nose wide open and his friends can't believe the change they have seen in him since marrying Sierra.

Denmark is on cloud nine as he prepares for his wedding anniversary; he can't wait to surprise Sierra with a very romantic evening. But the surprise is on him, when he learns his princess has been cheating. Denmark is devastated and can't believe that the one woman he chose to love, cherish and honor until the end of time, has betrayed him in the worst way.

Denmark devises the ultimate plan of revenge: he plans to sleep with the wives of the husbands who have slept with Sierra. It seems like the perfect way to impart hurt upon those who have hurt him, but in reality the plan backfires and Denmark is in for the shock of his life.

OTHER MEN'S WIVES by Freddie Lee Johnson III is a wonderful read that touches on controversial topics such as: infidelity, lying, betrayal and revenge. What I enjoyed most about the book was the character development. My heart went out to Denmark, who in an effort to be the ideal husband was bitten by the infidelity bug. I could see how much he cared for Sierra and was willing to do anything to make her happy. And as much as I loved Denmark, I couldn't stand Sierra. She didn't know a good thing when she had it and had the nerve to place blame on Denmark. The realism of the story was on point: some people sure know how to mess up a good thing. Having read all of Mr. Johnson's previous novels I was eager to read this one, and I must say, he didn't disappoint.

Reviewed by Eraina B. Tinnin

of The RAWSISTAZ™Reviewers
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