This Time Love, by Elizabeth Lowell

>> Friday, January 21, 2005

Elizabeth Lowell's This Time Love is a reworking of Sequel, a SIM published in 1986. This Time Love was published in 2002, expanding and adapting the original.

Joy Anderson was innocent, young, and trusting when she met Gabe Venture. An aspiring journalist with worlds to conquer, Gabe came to New Mexico to explore the natural wonders of Lost River Cave, with Joy acting as his guide. Surrounded by staggering beauty, they both surrendered to a passion too powerful to deny-and Joy gave herself freely to the most extraordinary man she had ever known. But Gabe was destined for great things, and even the intensity of their shared feelings could not bind him to this place or this romance. And so he left Joy with memories, a broken heart . . . and, months later, a cherished, if painful, reminder of their lost love: a daughter.

Seven years have passed, and Joy -- now a respected professor -- has put what once was behind her, though the memory will always remain alive in the light that shines in the eyes of her beautiful child.

Now Gabe, at the pinnacle of his profession, having tasted the fame and adventure that lured him away, has returned. The opportunity to revisit the endangered Lost River Cave -- and a second chance at the young love he so heedlessly tossed away -- is something he cannot let slip by. But the Joy awaiting him is not the same naive and eager innocent he once left behind. Worldly and independent, she has nursed her wounds and moved on. And he has arrived far too late, she tells him, to be welcomed back into her heart. But is it ever too late for love?
Well, what resulted from Lowell's adaptation was a good read, though the basic structure did feel a bit dated. Still, it was pretty satisfying and avoided most of the pitfalls a novel which is based on a Big Misunderstanding could suffer. My grade would be a B.

What I liked here was that even if the Big Mis wasn't really all that plausible (depended a lot on people miscommunicating in pretty contrived ways), it did mean that the secret baby angle was tolerable. The whole story was revealed pretty early on, plus, both had acted honourably in the past, given what they thought had happened, and their reactions in the present rang true. I wasn't crazy about all the harping on Joy's supposed abortion, but I liked that Gabriel was able to put himself in her shoes and admit the possibility that if she had had one, she might have had her reasons. I hate it when the woman is just demonized, in these cases, and I've read waaaay too many book in which this happens.

In the present part of the story, Gabe and Joy did have chemistry, and I liked that even when they both realised what happened, the obstacles that still remained to their relationship were very real. The past had been very traumatic for Joy, and it was understandable that she would have been reluctant to expose herself to pain again, once she had succeeded in getting over her original hurt. Gabriel's reactions when he realized exactly how traumatic it had all been for Joy were wonderful, and I really liked that part of the book.

There was a lot of info about caving... an info dump, really, which is something Lowell often does. Unfortunately, unlike in other books where this has happened, like the Donovan series, the caving thing wasn't particularly interesting to me, and that detracted a bit from my read.

All throughout my read, I found myself speculating on what exactly had been changed from the first one (does anyone know?). There were some obvious details, like the technology used, for instance, and maybe some of the language, which wouldn't have been there on a series title. Some things felt a little outdated, like the hero being completely out of touch in the Orinoco basin for an entire year in the mid-90s (that would have worked much better in the late 70s, when it would have happened in the original book), but the book as a whole felt pretty good.


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