Winner of the Reader Views Reviewers Choice Award
Two love stories intertwine: one black, one white….
In 1950, in a world before #MeToo, charming Jake plays fast and loose with the women — until the conservative Alice stops him short. Their romance changes the rogue … or seems to.
On the other side of the tracks, a brain-damaged teen in the “crazy house” delivers a mixed-race baby. Her sister Ruby races to rescue the child — and find the white man who did this.
When the baby brings them all together, each one — Jake, Alice, and Ruby — has secrets to preserve, as they wrestle with rage and fear, doubts and suspicions.
Victims and villains merge and morph in this deeply emotional story of competing and intertwining motives.
Can racism be right? Can sexism be acceptable? Can violence be justified?
“I gobbled it up — every word, every twist — Bravo, master wordsmith and phenomenal storyteller!” —artist Miranda Updike, daughter of the legendary John Updike
“Brendel’s characters glow with humanity, just one of the many reasons this is a book worth reading. Need another? You’ll ask yourself over and over, What would I do? The answer will be illuminating. A story as old, and as new, as mankind. In Pleasure and Power, the reader is captivated by flawed individuals as they struggle to be their best selves. And at the center of their journey is a baby.” —posted on Amazon by Joanna Campbell Slan, national bestselling and award-winning author of the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series
“An inherently fascinating and skillfully crafted read from beginning to end, PLEASURE AND POWER showcases author Doug Brendel’s genuine flair as a novelist for originality and narrative driven storytelling — making it very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Contemporary General Fiction collections.” —posted on Amazon by Clint Travis, Reviewer for Midwest Book Review
5.0 out of 5 stars — Great read! “A captivating read. Although set in the forties this book touches upon the social struggles many are faced with today. Entertaining, thought provoking and gave me the “I can’t put it down” feeling. A must read.” —posted on Amazon by Nicole Morin
5 stars — Powerful Novel, Pleasure To Read “The grey areas of life, the tough moral decisions in seemingly unimportant moments, unintended consequences both for good and ill: the challenges facing the main characters in Doug Brendel’s debut novel, Pleasure and Power are much like our own – unpredictable, sometimes tragic, sometimes beautiful and sometimes redemptive. Alice, Jake and Ruby’s interwoven lives and motives play out in the racist and sexist world of 1950s America. Some would call it a period piece, and yet the issues facing the protagonists are still with us today; so much so that in their stories we are forced to recognize the harsh truth that, in too many ways, not much has changed. We are forced to ask what would we do if we were there?
The author tells his story with an economy of language that is both effective and lyric. His voice is clear without being intrusive, allowing readers to bring their own experience and insight into the narrative. His characters are well-drawn, eliciting, sympathy, frustration, anger and admiration. It’s a page-turner with a kick, but not a simple beach read. Pleasure and Power is a deeply human story that provides reflective nourishment for mind, heart and soul.” —posted on Amazon by vh
5.0 out of 5 stars — Is fiction just life waiting to happen? “Author Doug Brendel’s novel takes place in a small town in Ohio in the early 50s and deals with race, secrets, sex and justice. It’s a painfully beautiful read. In its heart, the book is about two love stories: one white, one black. On the one hand, it’s how a smooth-talking womanizer falls for a conservative woman. On the other, it’s how a helpless young black teenage girl tries to protect her brain-damaged sister. All their lives get interwoven, and in the end the book asks you, “How far will you go to protect the one you love — or punish the one who hurts you?” I read this book in two days, snatching time to do errands and feed my cats. I was mesmerized, appalled, captivated and deeply touched. Doug Brendel is a great writer. Highly recommend this book.” —posted on Amazon by P. Wright
5.0 out of 5 stars — Brutally Honest Depiction of Diverse Characters Makes for Fascinating Reading! “The sheer physicality of long-standing author and popular public speaker Doug Brendel’s latest novel, Pleasure and Power, is overwhelming at times. His brutally honest depiction of his diverse characters is so tangible that you can sense their vulnerabilities and are made aware of their human frailties from the very first page. The immediacy of his text is graphic in the extreme, so that you feel immersed in their world from the start of this poignant and deeply moving tale of warped love and emotions.” —posted on Amazon by L.C. Henderson