Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Love Me Forever by Johanna Lindsey **

I read this book for the Readers of Romance Fall Challenge: Read a book by Johanna Lindsey.

I bought it used at Hastings for under $5 in hardcover - that's why I got this title (cheap, available).

I had never read any Johanna Lindsey before, so it was a good thing for me to do, I figured. After all, she is a New York Times Bestselling Author, it says so on the cover.

And I didn't like it. Now, I am thinking I could have given it 3 stars, in comparison to other stories I've rated 3 stars. The writing itself wasn't exactly bad - no glaring grammar issues, no continuity mistakes that I caught. The basic plotline, while nothing unique, wasn't bad. The characters didn't exactly annoy me. What is it that made me go with 2 stars instead of 3?

It's because she's a New York Times Bestselling Author with a boatload of fans out there, and I don't get it. I. Do. Not. Get. It. (that's contemporary-speak for emphasis). I found the story meandering around like it was the damned Mississippi River - a little curve here, a little curve there. The POV confused me - it was less like one of the characters reporting it, in 3rd person, and more like a golf commentator, whispering it from the side. I felt no emotions at all, not love, not hate, not anything, while reading this book. I want a story to get to me, to get under my skin and make me concerned for the characters - even knowing there will be a HEA, I want to worry how they could ever make it. And then when they do, I want to feel relieved that at last they made it over the obstacle, the big hurdle, and found their love. If it's humorous, I want to at least grin. If there's suspense, I want to wonder whodunit.

I kept looking for something quotable to illustrate what I mean, but I couldn't find anything in particular that would work out of context. I just followed the words and waited for them to move me and they did not.

The story is about Kimberly and Lachlan. It's obvious this is the sequel to another story (I didn't research it in advance) where Lachlan has fallen in love with Megan, who is now married and has a child with Devlin the Duke of something-or-other. Apparently, in Megan and Devlin's story, Megan was always in love with the Duke of Something-or-other but had never met him, and for some reason that you'll have to read the other story to learn, Devlin was slumming it as Megan's family's stable boy. (ah, the stable boy fantasy!) I guess Devlin as the Stable Boy ravishes Megan and elopes with her to Gretna Green, which is the closest town in Scotland where Brits can get married without whatever issues they face in England. And I guess on that trip, Lachlan stops them to rob them and kidnaps Megan.

So, it's over a year later, Megan and Devlin have their HEA, but poor Lachlan is still pining away for sweet Megan. In addition, we learn Lachlan is reduced to highway robbery because his stepmother stole all their money (over 100,000 pounds! wow!) and left after his father died. The highway robbery doesn't bring in enough cash to fund a clan, so Lachlan gets invited by his Aunt Margaret to someone's house to find a rich wife. Coincidentally, his Aunt Margaret is Devlin's Aunt Margaret by marriage, go figure, and now Lachlan is there in the house with his sweet Megan. His plan: to convince Megan they are soul mates and she must leave Devlin. (Mind you, Megan is not the heroine of this book.)


Kimberly is just coming out of one year of mourning for her beloved mother who passed on. Her father's a mean, cold, bitter fellow who Kimberly just tunes out. She is an only child, and her mother bequeathed a mighty sum to her. During her year of mourning, her betrothed couldn't wait for her because he had a lot of gambling debt, so he dumped her and married someone else rich. Now she's practically an old maid, and Papa has another wife for himself in mind who wants no competition. So Kimberly must wed and get out of the house. Papa asks Devlin to take on this project - so Kimberly is sent off to Megan and Devlin's to find a husband.

Can you guess what happens? Well, the basic plot is, Lachlan and Kimberly meet but don't like each other. Lachlan has eyes only for Megan, and Kimberly doesn't want to play second fiddle to another woman in her husband's eyes.

So why does Lachlan end up in Kimberly's bed, taking her virginity and ravishing her to a fare-thee-well somewhere near the middle of the story? I have no idea. Although it was vaguely explained as something to do with how much Kimberly drank, I just didn't buy it. It came totally out of the blue for me. So who does he want, Kimberly or Megan?? He still thinks he wants Megan at this point, and he was just doing what Kimberly wanted, a tumble. What? In what universe?

There's a bunch of twists and turns, mostly incredible (per the book jacket blurb, "outrageous" is the adjective). There are some other prospects for Kimberly - many of whom seemed really more suitable. Frankly I was rooting for James the widower to be her husband. Needless to say, Lachlan and Kimberly marry and then we have to suffer through even more of their weird story when they return home to Scotland. There's a woman there who's in love with Lachlan. What a bitch she was, and if that was supposed to be humorous, what she did to Kimberly and how she ended up where she did, then I must have lost my sense of humor somewhere. I thought what she did was horrifying.

What I learned from this story was that sometimes people think they are in love with someone but they aren't. It sorta shakes the whole foundation of my romance reading - does that mean that maybe Megan and Devlin aren't really in love and will eventually grow apart? What about all the other HEAs? Was Lachlan actually in love with Kimberly, or was that another trick? What about Nessa, are we sure she wasn't in love with Lachlan?

Oh - and if you are averse to this, I shall forewarn you there is a Secret Baby plot, but it isn't Kimberly's baby... And what it had to do with anything, I have no clue, just story filler for all I could tell. I think it was supposed to explain why a character was like he was, but really, can't a character just be grumpy without having been cuckolded as well?

So this story rates 2 stars for me because I really: Did. Not. Get. It. Who did love whom? Which was real love, and how did they know?? I feel sorta like the lyrics from that song from Chorus Line: I felt nothing. For this story, it's as if I started it expecting at least 3 stars, and it just dropped to 2.

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