Love's Destiny
by Crystal Wilson-Harris, contemporary (2002)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-285-1


Hmm, the guy on the cover looks as if he is suffering from both a severe case of constipation and bad mummification job. The hero Anthony Martin is nothing like that guy, I hope, because Anthony here is kind, sensitive, charming, perfect, sweet, and too nice to be real (I keep wondering what the catch is - does he snore like an elephant with a bad case of flatulence, or maybe he is a loud chewer, or maybe he slurps his soup like an asthmatic hippo - there must be something here, but no one can be that perfect!) and oh, he is 11 years younger than the heroine Savannah Raven Dailey.

Yeah, I did say 11 years younger. Mrs Robinsons of the world, unite! Heh, heh, heh.

Love's Destiny however comes close to being a keeper for me. I have to warn readers: there isn't exactly a closure to the romance here, as the hero and the heroine at the last chapter are only just beginning their story. There's no marriage, fat chubby babies, or problems in one's life magically disappearing the moment the bride kisses the groom. But I love the way the author handles the romance and the characterization (apart from Perfect Tony), and the lack of closure, in my opinion, only strengthens the whole thing. I'll explain the last bit more later. The plot first.

Savannah Raven Davis believes that she has a great marriage with Dwayne. She should have known better. How many romance heroes do you know have names like Dwayne? I rest my case. To no one's surprise, she wakes up early one Saturday morning to learn that Dwayne has gone kaput. That's right - he ran off with all their money. Savannah faints on the spot. I'm evil, but that fainting thing has me cackling hysterically for a full two minutes.

Savannah's sisters Paris, Sydney, and Jakarta (no, there's no sister called Ulan Bator or Bora Bora, thank goodness) rally together to keep Savannah's spirits up and help keep her two kids calm and steady. They also hire a PI, Anthony Martin, to track the loser Dwayne scumbag down.

Savannah soon pulls through nicely and gets on with her life, with the help of her sisters, and she isn't sure if she wants to see that Dwayne or even talk to him ever again. Bastard. However, Tony believes that that scum has to be made accountable, regardless of Savannah's belief that Dwayne will get what's coming to him one day (karma, you know). Tony believes that Savannah's an amazing woman and Dwayne is a jerk of first order to dump such a wonderful woman. Ah, young men. They're such adorable puppies, aren't they? Tony asks Savannah out for a date.

Yes, the whole thing screams "Rebound!", although Tony is definitely and obviously besotted with his Mrs Robinson, ditching everything just to make his lady feel good and happy. What a cute and sweet lil' boy, aww. That's why the lack of closure makes sense: it is better for Love's Destiny to tell me that the relationship will continue and strengthen (maybe I'll get more of their story in the upcoming stories of the other three sisters) rather than to insult me by saying that this is true love.

Besides, I can think of worse ways to indulge a rebound affair than with this Tony fellow. That guy is so cute and so earnest, he's probably worth keeping.

But the author made a major misstep late in the story. Where she could have taken time and pains to develop the romance, she instead chooses to stick a really bad and unrealistic murder plot in which Savannah is a prime suspect. The mystery is really bad. I get my police procedure knowledge from watching an occasional episode of Law And Order or CSI, but even so, I find the mystery subplot outright illogical and absurd. If the police can learn that Savannah is the wife of the man formerly known as Dwayne, why can't they learn that there are bad people out to get Dwayne instead of blaming the wife for his murder? Their "proof" is illogical and the whole thing is just a waste of thirty or so pages.

And some points have to be deducted for the final love scene. "Powerful beams of erotic pleasure shot through her body all emanating from their point of joining" sounds like a horrifying accident in an auto-erotic stunt involving a lightsaber stuffed up an unmentionable place.

Nonetheless, despite that really annoying Murder Misstep and the lightsaber accident, Love's Destiny is a sweet and nice story about a strong-willed Mrs Robinson and her young, earnest, and well-hung young man. As far as fantasies go, this one ain't bad at all.

Rating: 85


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