To Love and To Cherish, by Joan Elliott Pickart

>> Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Years and years ago, before I could order books online and get exactly what I wanted, not what my bookstore thought I should want, I'd torture myself by reading the promos for other books that were printed on the last pages of whatever I was reading. I didn't have a hope of finding any of those, since the odds that they'd turn up in in any of the bookstores here were slim to none, but I enjoyed daydreaming about being able to actually send in those order forms and receive the books I was wanting to read.

The worst torture by far was reading the promos in Loveswept books. There just was something about those descriptions that made them sound so good! Plus, I'm still convinced Loveswepts were, as a rule, much better than other series books, and even better than much of what I was reading in single title (Catherine Coulter et al).

So anyway, I was clearing out some of my bookshelves a while ago and found some Loveswepts. I immediately leafed through the last pages, and one of the descriptions was one I remember really, really wanting to read all those years ago: To Love and to Cherish, by Joan Elliott Pickart. So what the hell, I just went and ordered it. It gave me such a pleasure to be able to do that!

In the foggy cocoon of night, Alida Hunter bared her soul to a mysterious stranger on a shadowy beach, then surrendered her body and her heart- but ran away without ever learning his name! The rugged man with summer-sky eyes had made her feel alive again after months of grieving over a love betrayed, but she knew he was a fantasy, a magical gift that she could never keep.

Paul-Anthony Payton viwed to find the lady whose yearning spirit had filled him with hope and made him believe in happiness, but once he'd traced her, he never expected she'd deny what they'd shared..or that she'd hide the truth that could bind them for always. Alida felt bewitched by the spell of Paul-Anthony's passion, but she feared that loving meant losing- and she was terrified to risk the sorrow that ecstasy seemed to promise. Paul-Anthony had shared her secrets and understood her pain, but could Alida escape the ghosts of memory and trust in his forever love
Well, I quite liked this book. I can't really pinpoint why, since there were so many things I disliked about it, but it would be a B-.

My main problem was with the heroine. She was one stupid woman, with her hard-headed insistence on the idea that everyone deserved and would find love, except for her. Hmm, I'm not really expressing this well... I've read and enjoyed loads of books which had main characters who, deep inside, didn't believe they'd be able to find true love. Alida, on the other hand, was unreasonably matter of fact about it, kind of as though she'd looked into a crystal ball and seen her future. Her idiotic inductive reasoning reminded me of those dreaded "heroes" who had bitch mothers and were once betrayed by the woman they loved, so now they are 100% sure that all women are manipulative whores. Plus, Alida hung on to this way too long.

And then there was the way she dealt with "the truth that could bind them for always" mentioned in the blurb, which refers to -you guessed it- an unplanned pregnancy from that first night. I just cannot respect a heroine who refuses to tell the guy that she's pregnant. I'm sorry, but if you've decided to carry the pregnancy to term and you know where to find the man (and Alida did) and he's a decent guy (and Alida knew Paul-Anthony was), there is no excuse for remaining silent. None. You don't need to marry him or anything, but he deserves to know and to be part of the child's life. Luckily, this wasn't a huge issue in the book, because Paul-Anthony found out about it pretty quickly, and his reaction was perfect, but it was one more strike against Alida.

I did like some things about the way she was written, though, like the way she was actually shown working and being good and professional at it. And I applauded her for her defence of her desire to keep her job and be a working mother.

What else did I like? Well, Paul-Anthony (weird, hyphenated name and all) was pretty wonderful. He was very much the pursuer here, but while persistent, he was never obnoxious and domineering. I just liked the plot very much, however trite it might seem. And I also kind of liked the very light suspense subplot, dealing with Alida's work.

On the whole, this was a pleasant reading experience, even when I was wanting to bang Alida's head against the wall!


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