What You Won't Do for Love (novel)

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What You Won't Do For Love
First edition cover
Author Wendy Coakley-Thompson
Cover artist Jesse Reisch
Country United States
Language English
Genre Novel
Publisher Kensington Books
Publication date
Media type Print (Trade paperback)
Pages 419 pp
ISBN 0-7582-0747-6
OCLC 62928969
LC Class PS3603.O145 W47 2005

What You Won't Do For Love is a 2005 novel, the second book by author Wendy Coakley-Thompson. The title for the book was inspired by the Bobby Caldwell hit of the same name. Rainy Friday Films, a Chicago-based independent production company, optioned the film rights to the novel in December 2006.

Set in Washington, D.C., circa 2002, What You Won't Do For Love explores age disparity in sexual relationships through the reverse May–December affair of Chaney and Devin.

Plot summary[edit]

A failed engagement and an instructional design doctoral degree from Syracuse University lead Chaney Braxton, 36, the youngest of three sisters of West Indian descent, raised in Brooklyn, NY, to the Washington D.C. area in early 2002. She is one-fourth partner in Autodidact, Inc., an 8A government contracting firm that specializes in developing paper-, computer-, and web-based training for government agencies. Devin Rhym, 28, half-black half-Korean veterinarian, has come home from exile in Seattle, where his mother moved after leaving his father, K.L. Rhym, 70, retired JAG Corps Marine. Devin and Chaney meet when Daisy, Chaney’s flaky middle sister, asks Chaney to take care of Tony, Daisy’s massive yellow Labrador Retriever. Daisy has left her home in Los Angeles and run off to join her latest lover, a musician in the band of a black deadlocked rock star. Chaney likes Devin, but doesn’t see her lot in life taking on a “tadpole” – code for the younger lover of an older woman. Randy Tyree, 46, ex-Navy lieutenant, is more her style. He is a bright spot in her sojourn through the seamy world of Government contracts.

Devin is also has issues. Despite the fact that he is living a charmed life, with his own veterinary practice, a Georgetown, Washington, D.C. townhouse, and a Lincoln Navigator, he is dealing with his aging and increasingly hostile father, with distant relationships with his two older half-brothers, Chauncey and Eric, and with his lack of suitable companionship. His life takes another blow when another competing practice moves into town at the same time his father’s health begins to deteriorate.

Devin and Chaney become a couple just as life around them is unraveling. Devin’s business is suffering. Because of a spurned Randy’s overtures, Chaney is ousted from her partnership at Autodidact. Her relationship with her older sister Anna Lisa fabulously implodes. Belatedly, he discovers that she is expecting Devin’s baby at a time when marriage has not even been discussed and she has no gainful employment. Moreover, as Devin and Chaney are at a crossroads, a sniper lays waste to the Washington D.C. area. Just as the sniper’s reign ends with lives in Chaney and Devin’s orbit mercifully intact, K.L. succumbs to Alzheimer's disease and dies.

In a tense context, Devin and Chaney find each other and solutions to life’s complexities that seem to work for them. Devin realizes that, though he could not come home again to the same life he left, there is a more fabulous life waiting, if he can be patient. Chaney comes to see that a painful past maybe the ticket to a wonderful future, if one believes. Through death and war, Devin and Chaney nourish themselves and each other with their love and that of their family.

Publication history[edit]