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Summoned home to handle family affairs, a successful author finally faces the past she once gladly left behind in the debut novel from Cassandra Darden Bell.

WASHINGTON, DC December 5 2003-- BET BOOKS, publishers of the contemporary imprint Sepia, introduces readers to an unforgettable tale of devastating loss and unexpected gain in Cassandra Darden Bell’s January 2004 release Mississippi Blues.

After her father’s death eight years ago, Beverly Lamark had no desire to deal with her toxic siblings. As kids, they’d do anything for each other, but as adults they had nothing in common- though each had their own special gifts. Her jailbird brother Bobby got their daddy’s good looks, Andrew got the brains, Mabel got pregnant, Grace got to be mother hen-and Beverly got the hell out of Mississippi. But despite her success as a bestselling author, her two lovely children and beautiful house, after seventeen years in an unsatisfying marriage, Beverly understood the old saying: Be careful what you wish for- you just might get it.

Left on her own most of the time by her workaholic husband, Beverly’s days and lonely nights are usually spent writing-and drinking. And lately, the drinking is exceeding the writing. There’s no end to her sad routine in sight-until she gets word that there’s important family business to take care of. Soon an apprehensive Beverly is on her way back to Vicksburg, with her cranky teenagers in tow. But once she arrives at the local inn-and runs into a handsome fan - Bev’s mood brightens. Strangely enough, now that she’s away from her husband, she’s starting to feel like a woman again.

Meanwhile, Beverly prepares for what is guaranteed to be a tense reunion with her brothers and sisters. But none of them can begin to imagine what’s in store. For as the rivalries and misunderstandings of the family’s past unravel, a shocking event will change the future for

them all.

“As much as I dreaded walking into Grace’s house, it was time. The two-day drive had all boiled down to this one event: dinner at Grace’s followed by a meeting that would either settle the issue with the land and leave the Tayloe family in tact or tear us apart forever."

“I wrote Mississippi Blues with a desire to delve into the issues of a family in crisis...families who have lost their way, and are forced through tragedy to re-connect to their roots to find answers,” declares author Cassandra Darden Bell. “My hope is to shed light on the importance of communication in all relationships. We are often destroyed because of what we don't talk about and subsequently what we don't understand. Mississippi Blues in it's purest form is a message of encouragement to everyone to talk about difficult issues before it’s too late.”

“Cassandra Darden Bell has written a captivating novel that will surely strike an emotional chord with readers,” states senior editor Glenda Howard. “ Her book takes an unflinching look at the miscommunication problem one family is facing, which has led to years of silence. When they are all forced to face each other, the sparks fly, and their lives will never be the same again.”

Raised in Falkland North Carolina, Cassandra Darden Bell graduated from East Carolina University. Throughout her career Cassandra has worked in a variety of media professions including radio disk jockey, news editor, reporter, and anchor person. Cassandra is a member of the Southeast Black Writers Group. Cassandra Darden Bell currently resides in North Carolina with her husband and three children. This is Cassandra’s first BET novel and she is hard at work on her second.

Cassandra Darden Bell is available for book signings and promotional events -- for further information contact Kicheko Driggins at 202/608-2160.

Mississippi Blues will be published in January 2004 in trade paperback format (1-58314-481-1. $14 U.S./$20 Canada).

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