Albertina Merci is back in this delightful second book featuring everyone's favorite blues singer turned evangelist!
After Albertina's dear friend Mr. Mario, the owner of Mr. Mario's Downhome Cafe, has a heart attack and then loses his wife to diabetes, he decides that his lifetime love of soul food is over for good. Mr. Mario vows to go healthy, both personally and professionally, and tries to get Albertina on board, but it quickly becomes clear that he may be looking for more than pastoral support. And while he is undeniably romantic, Mr. Mario believes in the power of man...not God.
The only heat isn't in the kitchen, though. Clifford Bloom, a white DJ who has been a fan of Albertina's since her days as a blues singer, is now a member of her church and he always seems to be there just when Albertina needs him. Could this blossoming friendship be leading somewhere romantic?
Caught between two very different men, Pastor Merci also has to battle to save her little church in the heart of Los Angeles as mega-church pastor Bishop Gold wants not only the land where her church sits, but her nephew Patrick's loyalty, as well.
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June 25, 2007
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Excerpt from Stay Out of the Kitchen! by Mable John
Mr. Mario's Downhome Cafe
The fluffy scrambled eggs, the buttered toast, the crisp bacon and homefries on the side smell mighty good. I'm feeling mighty good being served this beautiful platter of food by Mr. Mario himself. Meanwhile, though, I've got stuff on my mind--my nephew Patrick, a minister in our church, is torn up because he broke up with Naomi, a black woman rabbi he met back when they were both undergraduates at Harvard. And my son, Andre, is about to marry Nina, an actress and model I don't trust.
All this is to explain why Mr. Mario's fluffy eggs, attentive service, and radiant smile mean so much to me. Mario is not a smiling man, but this morning he's happy because I gave him a copy of Jet magazine from back in the seventies with him on the cover.
"Lord, have mercy, Albertina," he says, "where in heaven's name did you find this thing?"
"Baby," I reply, "I'm going to pray before this delicious food gets cold. Then I'll tell you. You're always welcome to pray with me."
"Gotta tend to the grill. Give my best regards to that God of yours. Tell him He's doing a helluva job maintaining world peace and harmony among the races."
I ignore Mr. Mario's cynicism--I've known the man for years--and pray. Father, I just love You, I just worship You, I just thank You for being the God that You are. I thank You for the chance to relax this morning and reflect on all that is good in my life. Father, You are what is good in my life. I pray for peace, Father, especially for those who have no peace, for those who don't know You, for those who struggle with temptation and doubt. Grant my son, Andre, wisdom and clarity. Grant me the strength to pray for Nina, my daughter-in-law-to-be. May my own prejudices be lifted. Deepen my understanding so that, like Jesus, I can meet people where they are, accept them as they are, love them as they are, and help them as You help me. I pray all this in the precious name of Jesus, Amen.
Just as I'm about to take my first bite of egg, in walks Justine, my forever friend. I can't say I'm thrilled to see her--I was looking forward to a meal by myself--but I'm not about to hurt her by telling her so. Justine's been through a lot lately. I should know. As her next-door neighbor, I hear every detail of her roller-coaster love life. Whoever invented the term "Drama Queen" was thinking of Justine.
Justine's wearing a large tent dress adorned with drawings of oversized sunflowers. The design makes her look even larger than she is. She seats herself at my table.
"I didn't know you were having breakfast here this morning, Albertina," she says. "How come you didn't invite me to come along?"
"It was a spur-of-the-moment thing, sweetheart," I say. "I didn't know myself until I drove by and decided to stop. I'd been at the hospital visiting parishioners."
"What time you get there?"
"That's just about the time I was seeing Johnny Marbee to the door. Have I told you about Johnny?"
"Is he the man who works with you at Target?"
"The very same. And girlfriend, he was sure working with me last night."
I shake my head in wonder. Justine is incorrigible.
"Nothing builds up an appetite like some good old-fashioned lovemaking," she says.
"You were talking about a diet last week," I say, changing the subject. I never know what's going to come out of Justine's mouth.
"I'm starting that Palm Beach plan tomorrow. So today is my last day before going to Starvation City."
"What's the Palm Beach plan?" I ask.
"I don't know, but all the Hollywood stars are doing it. It has to work 'cause they have to look good for the movies. I got the book. Gonna read it tonight. After dessert."
I can't help but laugh.
"No laughing matter," says Justine. "Doctor Foster says I got to deal with my weight before it deals with me."