Jonathan's Story
by Julia London and Alina Adams, contemporary (2008)
Pocket, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4165-7823-9


The soap opera Guiding Light has been canceled but that doesn't mean the series will have to die, oh no. Jonathan's Story is just one of the books planned to serve as epilogues of sort to the soap opera. Now, I have never watched a single episode of that soap opera, so I'm wading into this book without any expectation, assumptions, or even knowledge of the series. From Jonathan's Story, I can only deduce that Jonathan Randall must be one of the more popular bad boy characters in that soap opera.

Anyway - and do bear in mind I'm piecing things together from what I read in this book, so I may end up making some mistakes - where we left off in the soap opera, Jonathan finally found love and redemption with this woman, Tammy. Alas, the evil villain Alan Spaulding didn't care if Jonathan's daughter Sarah is his great-granddaughter. Alan hired some goons to run Jonathan down with a car, because we all know this is the best way to kill someone. Alas, before Jonathan could end up becoming a sexy pancake on the road, Tammy courageously leapt in the line of collision and... oops. When this story opens, Jonathan takes Sarah and fakes a dramatic death for the two of them, hoping to throw Alan off their trail as Jonathan takes his daughter and runs. Alan, you see, wants Sarah to remain as his cute wee great-granddaughter. It's her father that he can't stand.

Jonathan ends up in this town called Tourmaline in California, where he meets Aubrey Cross. She's good with kids and she even works at the local daycare. If this isn't destiny, I don't know what is. Alas, Aubrey is the daughter of the local sheriff Zeke. Zeke isn't just an abusive SOB - he acts as if he has the right to do anything, even killing people who annoy him. Can Jonathan and Aubrey find happiness in the midst of the drama of their lives that just won't go away?

This story is a spin-off from a soap opera, so I suppose I can't blame the authors for the truly over the top villains and some twists and turns of the plot. But if I strip away the more melodramatic moments in this story, I will get a very familiar romance story about two tortured twits on the run from their past. There are some efforts to give the characters some depths, but they are pretty generic characters that would be completely forgettable were not for the fact that some of their personality traits are magnified to an exaggerated (and sometimes comical) degree.

Like all the soap operas that I followed at various points in my life, though, I end up thinking that I'd cheerfully strangle the main characters (in this case, Jonathan) while cheering on the bad guys. Alan is quite cool here, I must say, and I find his relationship with Jonathan's mother Reva Shayne pretty amusing. Doesn't this soap opera has any kind of Alexis Carrington type of character? Now that would be a story worth reading. At any rate, Jonathan here is quite annoying as his sole reaction to everything is to run away. By the end, he is called on it and he owns up to his cowardice, but come on, I'm not forgiving him that easily because I have to sit through his woe-is-me nonsense in this book. Aubrey is a more likable character, but it's hard to take her seriously because some of her antics as well as her father's here are so over the top.

The mass market paperback version of this book (the one I am reading) has a new epilogue, but the epilogue really damages the story if you ask me. [spoiler starts] The last chapter ends happily, but in the epilogue, I learn that some time had passed since Jonathan abandoned Aubrey some time after the previous happy ending, and now he decides to go back to Aubrey. Huh? This abandonment is probably needed, I suspect, in order to fit this story into the soap opera time line, but it also confirms my opinion that Jonathan is a puny weenie king who isn't fit to kiss my toes. [spoiler ends] Without the epilogue, the story ends on a high note. With the epilogue, on the other hand, ugh.

And don't get me started on this story's abrupt turn into paranormal territory later in the story. At least give me some warning, authors!

I can't say Jonathan's Story is particularly impressive to me. It has a standard romance story line featuring familiar characters, only this time the soap opera elements are deliberately inserted and magnified in keeping with the feel of the soap. In other words, you can think of this one as Catherine Anderson on steroids. Anyway, I'm going to do some research on this show now, because there are more books of this sort on the way.

Rating: 69


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