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A Romantic, Spiritual Journey

The idea for a book about the lives, romance and Christian faith of married actors Courtney B. Vance and Angela Bassett came up at a gumbo party at the apartment of jazz musician Wynton Marsalis, who lives in their New York City building.

Vance told RBL he had been chatting with some of the other men there for a couple of hours. Then, "This guy said to me, 'You know, you and your wife should write a book.'" The guy was literary agent Manie Barron. The book, "Friends: A Love Story" —- co-written with Hilary Beard —- will be published Feb. 14 by Kimani Press as one of Harlequin's first big ventures into inspirational nonfiction.

"We don't really know how to write a book; we're not writers, so the thought never really crossed our minds," Vance said. Barron set them up with Beard, and Bassett and Vance spoke with her together and separately over the next year.

As the book was written, the actors, who had undergone in-vitro treatments and two miscarriages after their 1997 marriage, became parents of twins through a surrogate mother. Son Josiah Slater and daughter Bronwyn Golden were born Jan. 27. 2006.

"Friends" also charts Vance and Bassett's spiritual journeys. Vance said, "Christ is the center of our lives. Angela was raised in the church. I was raised in the church, but my parents moved away from it." And so had he. Vance recommitted and was baptized when he was cast as the minister wed to Whitney Houston's character in the 1996 film The Preacher's Wife.

After Vance married Bassett, he said, some of his favorite advice came from his personal trainer, who also happened to be a marriage counselor with a Ph.D. in psychology. "Men are not born learning to be a husband. You have to watch and learn. You have to talk," Vance said.

While celebrity biographies are plentiful, said Mavis Allen, Kimani associate senior editor, it's unusual for a high-profile couple to detail their relationship in a book. "The other side is I don't think we necessarily see stories about Christian couples of color in a romantic relationship, and then a family relationship," Allen said.

Vance and Bassett come from unpretentious backgrounds, met at the Yale School of Drama, and moved in the same circle for years before love bloomed. Vance said he and Bassett tried to be open about their lives, mistakes and all. "We just hope people can see our walk and our journey, and take the good and let the bad go, and go on with their lives."