Smoke and Mirrors by Tiana Laveen Reviewed by Yema Nelson
“SEX, BETRAYAL, SURVIVAL & REDEMPTION…..Smoke and Mirrors” is the latest release by literary Interracial and Multicultural Bestselling Author, Tiana Laveen. This is by FAR the most CONTROVERSIAL and THOUGHT-PROVOKING book on morality and sexuality EVER WRITTEN BY LAVEEN. This book is an emotionally charged and sex-spiced page turner. It is a graphic, awe-inspiring, heart-wrenching and jaw-dropping tale of Sex, Betrayal, Survival and Redemption.
Not many authors dare to delve into subject matters that are difficult to discuss or considered culturally or morally wrong by today’s standards and sensitivities. Most authors choose to play it safe by exploring safe subjects of the heart – romance, love and hate, tragic or happy endings. To write about controversial issues such as prostitution, sex-trafficking, pornography, rape and incest is deemed “literary suicide” for an author. What sets Tiana Laveen apart from other authors however, is that she “went there”. She decided to take the plunge, the green mile, the “dead man’s walk” down that road. But Laveen just may have turned what is sure to be the most riveting and explicitly controversial book of the year into a blockbuster that will be knocking on the doors of the New York Times Best Seller List.
Having read all of Laveen’s books, “Smoke and Mirrors” was sure to plunge me into a world that I have never personally experienced in my life, neither do I have relatives that belong to that life or even relate to it. Take it from me, a good Catholic girl, raised with “the right morals” where everything is either black or white, right or wrong. I had to mentally prepare myself to read this book, because I knew the subject matter was sure to indoctrinate me into an underworld that I would find hard to imagine, let alone stomach or relate to. This book had the capability of sullying everything wonderful and beautiful and romantic about relationships and sex and instead, I was going to get a first class ticket, front row seat, VIP pass to the oldest profession in the world – Welcome to Pimps and Prostitution 101. Laveen once again took me by storm with her unparalleled, almost sleuth-like research skills that she put into writing this book. As green as I am, I took the time to speak with individuals who knew of individuals who can back up and confirm to a “T”, EVERYTHING that Laveen wove into this intriguing story.
“Smoke and Mirrors” resonated with me in three MIND-BLOWING ways. The impact upon me was so great that I intend to share with potential readers, naysayers, critics and conservatives the reason WHY they should read this book. Many have already made up in their minds based on the “blurb” of this book being about a Pimp and a Madam, that they will absolutely, never, ever read such literature because by doing so, it would be tantamount to condoning it and going so far as to consider it blasphemous and morally bankrupt. For the record, Laveen neither supports nor condones prostitution, child sex-trafficking or violence against women in any form, method or appearance. That Laveen is brave enough and open-minded enough to write about a topic that has been around since the beginning of time and puts a human face to it, is a real testament to not only her craft, but her ability to see the good and the human side of people regardless of what they do or the “sins” they commit.
There is a reason for the saying, “Let He Who Is without Sin, Cast the First Stone”. So for all you religious zealots, modern day Pharisees and Sadducees. This book is especially for you. As I mentioned, Laveen’s “Smoke and Mirrors” hit me in three mind-blowing ways: Pimps, Whores, and Madams – They exist and it’s not what you thought it was Brent “Smoke” Patterson is a Pimp – an almost 7 foot White Pimp at that. He was the product of a “family curse” in which his good looks and charm allowed him to carry on the family tradition as passed down from his grandfather to his father and now to him. To many people, white pimps are not prevalent though they do exist. Laveen challenges the status quo and doesn’t go for the obvious easy-to-write-about “Black pimp” or “Hispanic pimp” which is more the norm in the sex-trafficking circles in the United States. No, Laveen introduces us to a white young man, who, for all intents and purposes, given his “white privilege” should have evolved into a smart young man from a good family and gone on to fulfill the “American Dream” complete with blonde wife, two and a half kids and a dog living in a house with a white picket fence! Nah uh! Instead, we get “Smoke”, who is the product of a broken loveless marriage, with a controlling psychotic pedophile for a mother and an absent pimp for a father. His parents choices forced his choices – as ridiculous as that may sound to most, his life was already put on a trajectory of survival mode. Faced with life choices that no man-child should have to entertain at his age, he is faced with the very real circumstances of life. He follows in his father’s footsteps and becomes a Pimp.
Enter Paris, a former prostitute, whose own father was a pimp and her mother a drug-addicted prostitute, decides to turn her circumstances around to do the only thing that she knows how to, to survive. Both Smoke and Paris were abused and hurt by their own flesh and blood, and instead of using the pain of their abuse by inflicting it on their “stable” of whores, we discover instead that yes, there are actually pimps and madams and whores who do have a heart. That threw me for a loop. What amounts to “sex slavery” controlled by pimps is instead totally turned on its head by this Pimp and Madam. Smoke and Paris engage in the illegal, morally reprehensible profession of prostitution and sex-trafficking, but theirs is an establishment that attempts to make the best of a bad situation. A pimp who lets his “bitches” keep most of their money, keeps them clean, fed, clothed, healthy and safe and is never violent with them. A pimp who is compassionate, caring, protective and considerate. A madam who treats her “girls” more like her sisters. Buys them clothes, keeps them safe, provides housing and pays them exceptionally well. I could go on, but I think you catch my drift. An unusual set of circumstances makes the best of a bad situation.
What shocked me the most? These are people, with feelings, hopes and dreams. Of course their profession is repulsive. But Smoke and Paris gave me pause. I had to take my judgmental gloves off. A Love Story – Yes, even Pimps and Whores need “love” too In the truest sense of the word, this was indeed a love story. “Smoke and Mirrors” grittiness and hard-core story into the world of Pimps and Prostitution in many ways is a more believable tale of sex, love, betrayal and redemption than the most popular bestselling romance novel out there today. Again, Tiana Laveen’s uncanny ability to take you by the hand and lead you head first into the sordid history and details of sex-trafficking, is unparalleled. Most people know or are related to someone who is either in the life or has connections to the life. That Smoke and Paris represent “real people” who do this for a living and also deal with the day to day challenges of life only to be blind-sided by love, gave this tale a “human” feel to this. That these two individuals use their pain, abuse and anguish for something “good” challenges the reader to take stock of the choices that we as individuals make based on events we have no control over, and the ramifications of those choices, whether good or bad. One may still ask, “What is good about pimping and hoing?” In reality, nothing.
But yet and still, the moral compass of “goodness” in Smoke and Paris and the lives that goodness impacted becomes the beacon of light in this story. Despite the ugly and tragic circumstances of their respective childhoods, something beautiful is born between them. Yes, out of something so vile and unconscionable, something of beauty and purity emerges. Faith, Hope and Love. One would have expected them to be bitter, violent, pessimistic and soul-less. But instead, these two individuals show you that beneath it all, regardless of one’s station in life, love is at the heart of what we crave. In some way and fashion, being wanted is at the heart of what people desire. Yes, even for the so-called “lowlifes of the sex underworld”. Faith and Redemption This book had me in an emotional and crying mess. I found myself rooting for Brent “Smoke” Patterson and Paris “Pussycat” Ramon. I found myself not only impressed with both these characters, but I also had a strong respect for them. Without giving away too much of the story, the fact that when faced with life-changing adversity, both of them chose not to rely on their pimping and prostitution acumen for survival and sustenance, but both instead relied on their belief in each other, the love for each other in their hearts and faith to turn their lives around. Yes. I said FAITH! You see, to those people reading this book (or those who refuse to read it), this is about FAITH. It is about going through a set of circumstances that not only tests you, but ultimately brings you out of it bigger, better and stronger than you were before. It’s about being baptized by fire, and being face to face with your own personal demons, for the sole purpose of realizing that yes, there are second chances and yes, there is a God and Creator.
The title of my review was chosen carefully. My favorite song (Maria Magdalena – by Sandra) and one of my favorite stories in the Bible is that of the prostitute Mary Magdalene, who was “caught” in the act of adultery and dragged by a mob of men, half naked, to Jesus for him to judge her. Her accusers were those thought to be of a higher moral and religious stock – Pharisees, Sadducees, Sanhedrin and Rabbis. When confronted, these “religious leaders” who were supposedly above reproach quoted that according to the law, Mary Magdalene should be put to death by stoning. Seeking approval and confirmation from Jesus, they asked for his verdict. He agreed with them, that the law was correct in condemning her to death via stoning. However, He also calmly stated that those among them, without sin, should be the ones to cast the first stone. Not a single stone was thrown that day at a prostitute, madam and whore named Mary Magdalene. There is a lesson in this. “We” are so quick to pass judgment on others, be it for their profession, their calling, their preferences, their sexual orientation etc. This story clearly demonstrates that despite the eye-brow raising and illegal profession of Smoke and Paris, because they were inherently good people on the inside, and cared for others and treated others with respect, despite their “sins”, they too deserved and were given a second chance at life.
From a Pimp to a respectable, hard-working Pilot, educated, responsible man and father; and from a Madam who was a former prostitute and raped multiple times as a teenager, to an honest, educated, legitimate business woman and mother – Smoke and Paris are the embodiment of what “Go and Sin no more” means. From being angry at a God whose very existence was questioned, to discovering a greater force at work for them and that they were on a journey of faith all this time. This was a true moment of clarity and absolute awe for me. And just like this author, writing about a topic that most would deem unmentionable. In this case, Laveen chose to write about an eye-opening account of the underworld known as prostitution, pimping and sex-trafficking. Those who feel “too godly or too saved” to read this book, you may be surprised at the lesson and the message that is being gifted to you. I don’t condone any of the illegal acts depicted in “Smoke and Mirrors” and yes at times, I cringed when reading about “Bottom Bitches” and “Ho’s” and “Tricks”. But what
I took away from this is that THIS STUFF IS REAL. It exists and not reading about it doesn’t make it disappear. I applaud those men and women who successfully made it “out of the life” and Tiana Laveen tells their story in the most respectful, realistic and painfully accurate way. “Smoke and Mirrors” is Tiana Laveen’s best work yet. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who has ever thought that their life path and circumstances and doomed them to a future of misery and despair. I also recommend this book to those who seek only to “cast their stones of judgment” on others for their life choices. “Smoke and Mirrors” is just that – not all is as it seems. And if you just take the time to get past the smoke and mirrors of life, you too may one day see the beauty within, regardless of the package it came wrapped up in. And yes, this bestseller would make an outstanding, award-winning Hollywood TV movie! Casting call for Brent “Smoke” Patterson please!