||Dec 12, 2009
The book is about two people, Edward and Gladys, who meet and are attracted to each other almost immediately, but have difficulty in resolving their feelings for each other, especially because of Edwards past. Just when they have finally got around to declaring their love for each other, a crisis arises that tests that love to its limits.
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Sheltered Gladys Eborah has spent most of her life in a suburb of Enugu brought up in a deprived single parent household after losing her father as a young girl. After finishing her education, she moves to Lagos to seek a job and moves in with an estranged aunt who now wants to be forgiven for all perceived wrongs. Gladys suspects Aunt Isioma abandoned them out of disdain for their poverty, and has the uneasy role of the bridge between both families.
Her new friendships and career achievements gradually transition Gladys into an independent young woman. Soon, she begins to fall for wealthy Edward Bestman who, though physically attracted to her, is emotionally unavailable. Edward is very wealthy, but he is haunted by the past of his illegitimate birth and other secrets he will not share.
The themes of premarital sex, social class mobility, and romantic ups and downs that mark a budding love are fully explored. However, Myne Whitman takes the story even further. Some unnamed people are about to take over Edward’s business empire and Gladys is implicated. Who are these people who want to betray him and destroy their happiness?
She clutched at his broad shoulders as he moved back to her lips. Their tongues meshed, dueling in the warm cavern of their open mouths. His hand left the zip to push her skirt up her thighs and she lifted herself till it was bunched around her waist. Both hands moved once more to her aching breasts, lifting both together as he sought the pouting nipples. Gladys pulled him closer and ran her nails down his back. The deep suckling dragged the moans from her again. His hands moved to her hips and brought her closer to feel his hardness. The ringing phone vibrated under her, they were lying on top of her purse. She pushed his hands away and scrambled up.
“Just ignore it.” Edward mumbled and tried to pull her back.
“We have to stop.” Gladys mumbled. She stood up and did up the buttons of her blouse.
“Baby we don't have to, come here.” He lounged back with open arms. A quick glance around the room showed his jacket on a chair, his tie draped on the coffee table. Gladys smoothed down her skirt, picked up the fallen ruffle and began to put her hair in order.
“Don't tell me you're ending this here, now?” Edward ran a hand over his head and looked down at himself. His shirt buttons were all undone and his erection was throbbing.
“Darling, you've said how much you care about me several times, but it's not enough. I'm sorry to bring this up again but frankly, we're both adults. We should...” He stopped.
Gladys prompted him after a while. “What?”
“Don't you want to see how this ends? Can you just imagine the two of us together fully? I know I want to fill you, make love to you completely…”
The muscles in her stomach jumped but Gladys tamped them down. “I would like that a lot Edward, but we've not planned for it or any of the outcomes.”
“Well there's a way to resolve this. I want us to get married.”
“How do you mean?” They'd never talked about marriage in relation to themselves.
Edward said the first thing that came to his mind. “Will you marry me?”
Gladys was confused at first. This evening that had started off so well had not worked out in any way she could have imagined. What he'd just said made no sense at all, and then it sank in.
“Is this a ploy to get me into bed or are calling my bluff?”
“No, I am serious Gladys. It's time to take this relationship to the next level.”
Gladys considered him in silence for several minutes. What kind of proposal was that? If she had fantasized about how this would go, this was no way near it. He still hadn't said how he felt about her. “Based on what?” When he didn't reply she added.
"I love you Edward, but how do you feel about me? I know you find me attractive but do you love me?”
Edward came to stand before her. He took her hands in his. “Doesn't it matter that I'm attracted to you? I really care for you Gladys and I want us to be together.”
“If we're to think about marriage, it has to be more than that. For goodness sake we'll be planning to spend the rest of our lives together. Edward, marrying someone means being exposed to them, trusting them with your emotions.” She paused and considered his words. “Can you be sincere and give me an answer from your heart? Can you do that?”
That was crux of the matter, Edward wasn't sure if he could do that. He'd thought about marriage to Gladys; they got on very well and after the dream on the beach, it was like - why not? But he hadn't considered love. He still didn't know if he was ready to trust his heart to someone else. He cared deeply about Gladys but he didn't want to label it. He came to stand before her.
“Let's not make this such a big deal. OK, I admit I may have brought up the topic the wrong way but I mean it. Maybe you need to go away and think about it?”
Gladys stood up and picked her bag. It was very plain that Edward did not love her. If he couldn't say it, marriage was out of the question. She would be deceiving herself to think seriously about his proposal, if one could even call it that.
“I love you Edward, but it is now obvious that you don't feel the same way.”
She ignored him and walked towards the door.
Edward's mind was in conflict as Gladys left the room and closed the door quietly. He sighed heavily and picked up his phone. He called the driver as he walked to the window and looked out. Almost immediately, Bonny came running from behind the house and into the garage. When he backed out the car, Gladys walked into view and Edward noticed that she had begun to cry. While he debated whether to run after her, she got into the car which then drove out of the compound. He allowed the curtain to drop and slammed his right fist into his left hand. Things had not gone well at all. Damn!
Gladys cried all the way home even after assuring Bonny that everything was alright. He kept glancing at her through the rearview mirror and murmuring “Madam sorry, e don do. E don do.” For her, no tears would ever be enough, at least not as far as she could see. What she had thought was a solid foundation had now proved to be only castles in the air. Her first major relationship had just crashed down around her ears. Edward had not even bothered to explain himself or follow her to the car.
A Heart to Mend, a novel recently published by Myne Whitman, is a new addition to the sparsely populated field of Nigerian romance novels. It is the story of Gladys Eborah, a young girl who has recently moved from Enugu to Lagos in search of work after completing her education. It describes how she meets and falls for the successful, yet emotionally distant Edward Bestman, and the turbulent relationship between them as she struggles to deal with his unwillingness to commit to a relationship. The novel also has two sub-plots: one which deals with her attempts to build a relationship with the estranged aunt who she stays with in Lagos, and another which reveals a sinister attempt to sabotage Edward’s business empire and ends up creating a huge rift in his relationship with Gladys.
The author immediately engages us in the first chapter by painting a vivid picture of Gladys’ feelings of apprehension on arriving in the busy, bustling city of Lagos. She also quickly sets the stage for the budding romance between Gladys and Edward. Thereafter, she gradually develops the story, and by degrees, we get to see how the relationship between the two protagonists develops. She paints a fuller picture of both characters; we get to see how driven and successful Edward is as she describes his business interests in realistic detail. But we also see conflict in Edward’s mind as he is torn between his desire for Gladys, and the mistrust of people planted in him from earlier experiences of betrayal. Gladys’ evolution from a simple girl new to the city to a young urban professional is also realistically chronicled, as is the turmoil she faces as she is uncertain of Edward’s feelings towards her.
The author also skillfully weaves in the sub plot involving the takeover of Edward’s business interests. It is clear that she has spent a lot of time researching to paint a realistic picture of business practices in the Nigerian financial industry; but what is more compelling is the drama that she conjures up as the identities and motives of the main actors in the takeover become clear, and the relationship between Gladys and Edward is threatened. The other sub plot involving Gladys’ aunt is not as integral to the story, but it does forms an interesting backdrop.
The author has used a writing style that is simple and direct, with lots of descriptive detail. On the one hand, this allows the reader to follow the narrative with ease, while at the same time immersing them in the story; on the other, readers who are more interested in the story rather than the setting may find the overly descriptive nature of the prose a distraction. As for the plot, the story is billed as a romance, so there are no prizes for guessing how the story ends. However, it is the journey, not the destination that entertains in this novel, and the author has done a great job of creating a story of two characters who engage our sympathies and who we find wanting to triumph over the odds that are thrown their way.
OlaMild Entertainment Weekly
When you pick up Nkem Akinsoto aka Myne Whitman's debut novel, A Heart to Mend you wont drop it till you have reached its last page. A story of the relationship between a young woman, Gladys, who falls in love with a rich businessman when she moves to Lagos, A Heart to Mend would take you through emotions of love, angst, passion, happiness, pity, and irritation all at once.
And many would relate to the book as it is about a young woman, Gladys who moves to a big city as much as it is about an Oil company executive...it is also about family ties and the challenges families often face; as we would find how Gladys' gradually resolves the mystery of why her aunt cut all ties with their family.
More than anything this book is a breath of fresh air - very different from the stereotypical images portrayed in most books regarding the continent. Far from stories propagating wars, disasters, poverty, anger, or colonization...this is just plain easy feel good read like a top selling novel sitting on the Romance aisle at Borders or Barnes and Nobles.
Nigerian author Myne Whitman has written a captivating first novel that presents the gripping tale of a young woman finding her feet in the world and how her life intersects with that of the wealthy egoist she meets. This main story line runs through the subplots of a tear-soaked family reunion and high-powered company acquisitions. A HEART TO MEND narrates the relationship between Gladys and Edward and offers a unique reading experience. Direct and action packed, the masterful use of emotion and suspense will keep readers totally engrossed and guessing till the end.
A HEART TO MEND will bring tears to the eyes and cheers at the end especially for those who have experienced the search for a career or tumultuous family and emotional relationships. Readers will be pleasantly surprised by the description of Lagos, the Nigerian stock market, and other business intrigues.
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