Forever Love
by Francine Craft, historical (2001)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-194-4


Francine Craft, in Forever Love, writes as if she has to finish this book, dress up, and dash for the next train (in twenty minutes) at the station 1,000 miles away while her car is running on empty in the gas tank (and the gas station is closed due to some unforeseen circumstances). Hence, she will describe a glorious explosion of love in one's heart, the feeling of relief, contentment, and wonder as you realize that you are gazing in the beautiful eyes of your one true love... Ms Craft will probably describes the whole scene as "She looked at him and fell in love."

There is room for being concise, but not here, sister dear. This is a romance, I want some sentences that don't just consist of a simple subject and a short predicate.

The story isn't much to scream about either. Francesca Worth divorced her husband who cheated on her with the glee of a wolf in a sheep pen. She is now a successful radio talk show (Midnight In Minden) host who is getting newspaper and magazine clips and cuttings from an obsessed fan. Anyway, Jonathan, a police detective, is here to protect her. Jonathan has the usual police baggage: his dear brother Kevin died, and he wasn't there to protect him! Oh, oh, oh! Can he open his heart to Fran? Can she open her heart to him?

Even more important, can this story be any more Connie Mason-esque in writing style? Ms Craft doesn't descend into the inane babbling style made into an artform by Cassie Edwards, but she comes close to sounding like Connie Mason. There are weird imageries, such as Fran imagining her life as a rose which has lost a bloom or something. Or Jon, tossing wildly in bed because he is so horny that Fran is just sleeping next door, suddenly dreams of taking reflexology classes with Kevin. No, I don't want to figure out the significance of that dream. I don't think I want to know.

The author spends many, many sentences describing trivial details, but when it comes to the scenes that count (emotional ones), she crams the emotional dramatics in one choppy paragraph too many times. It's like watching a grand kiss in a romantic movie while someone is playing a Pee Wee Herman soundtrack in the back.

And for the mystery subplot, it is more of a vapidity subplot. Have I mentioned how the heroine disarm the burglar alarm systems the hero set up in her house and goes out walking and hopping in the evening alone? It's not as if her mother called from the hospital or anything. "Oh, Jon... I don't know," is all she can say in her defense.

For some reason, I keep hearing Billy Joel's We Didn't Start The Fire playing in an unending loop all through my head. I thought of the troubles in the world, my own less than peaceful life at the moment, and finally, I turned to my husband and asked him, "Do you remember Billy Joel's We Didn't Start The Fire? I really like that song."

"Huh?" he asked me.

"We didn't start the fire..." I started singing and I put this book down and started to rummage through my CD collection for that song.

Okay, I wasn't thinking straight when I let this book off the hook so easily. Billy Joel keeps running the entire history of the 20th century in my head, and that's a great buffer against all the annoyances in this story, bad writing techniques, missed opportunities, and all. Well, consider Ms Craft lucky. Maybe after a few Prozac I'll be back in my Cruela de Vil mode.

Rating: 52


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