This Time Love
by Elizabeth Lowell, contemporary (2003)
Avon, $7.99, ISBN 0-380-78994-9


The author says in her dedication: "To everyone who got it right the second time." Is this my cue to snort and say, "Who says you've got it right?" This rewrite of the 1986 series romance Sequel primarily sees Ms Lowell toning down the psycho hero and letting the main characters talk instead of screaming at each other, but at the same time she also leaves in many of the artificial conflicts that bloat the misunderstanding count. And to make This Time Love a 364-paged full-length book, Ms Lowell adds in long and lengthy lectures on cave study techniques. It's a common plague to this author's books: she can go on and on about whatever it is that is the theme of the story until the reader overdoses on jargons and dry technical details. Only this time, there are information overload as well as very fake misunderstanding conflicts galore. "Oh my heck!" is right.

A long time ago, Joy Anderson and Gabe Venture are lovers. He loves her because, as he says, she is an innocent girl-woman that's virginal and pure. He then bloats her up with the magic baby plot device and leaves her behind. His brother, on an All Women Are Sluts bent, sparks up a truly Big Misunderstanding Scenario where he pays off Joy with abortion money and then tells Gabe that she has taken the money to abort the baby. Needless to say, she doesn't actually abort that kid, instead raising that brat single-handedly, and he labors under the assumption that she has aborted the baby and so is Faithless and Slutty Forever.

I don't know. A man that walks away from a woman and then gets angry when his brother, with his consent, pays her off with abortion money and she takes it - talk about a man with issues. And as for Joy, she may have gotten a PhD in cave studies after she's lost her hymen to Gabe, but somehow she managed to miss "child support lawsuit" during her education. I'll just skip the tedious cave and reunion nonsense and just get straight to the point: these two talk, yes, but they take a long time to talk. Most of the time they are just talking around each other, both parties not actually listening. Then there are bizarre gems like Joy's telling Gabe, "Love requires trust. Trust requires innocence. I am no longer innocent." I think someone is confusing "innocence" with "bloody stupid gullibility" here. In the meantime, when Gabe is not waxing lyrical (in a caveman speak kind of lyrical, that is) over Joy, who has somehow managed to retain that "girl-woman" thing throughout the years, he is setting up more artificial conflicts, right down to one that happens close to the last page, when they have sex and then he gets angry because he believes that she slept with him just to get another baby. All this just because the morons didn't have safe sex in the first place? Maybe this book should be used as a cautionary material for sex ed studies at school.

This Time Love has too many unnecessary misunderstandings. It is also filled with laughably archaic concept of love, innocence, virginity, sex, and pregnancy, bloated into a purple blimp of a story by ridiculous celebrations of gullibility and child-like innocence that are, apparently, hallmarks of a "good woman". The only fun I get from this book is from laughing at some of its more ridiculous moments. A story with very little relevance to today's social norms as well as to the actual concept of mature and healthy relationships, This Time Love is a pointless bloating-up of a truly dated relic that has long outlived its sell-by date.

Rating: 53


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