Snowbound With Love
by Alice Wootson, contemporary (2000)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-148-0


Reading Snowbound With Love is like trying to kick and batter an old Jaguar to start. The first half just won't start. Then, after a while, Woooooosh! the book gets on a jumpstart and grabs me by the neck and pulls me in with its emotional intensity and startling poignancy. The first half is slow and a bit too sweet for me, but darn if the quarrels and screamings at the second half didn't make up for it. I'm a sadist who find that the imperfections of the characters, once revealed, make them more human that the disgustingly perfect cardboards they are in the first half.

Charlotte Thompson is a stunning beautiful, incredibly talented journalist (they always are) who, in a stupid attempt to brave a snowstorm, gets hurt and loses her memory. Tyler Fleming, talented composer and stunningly handsome (they always are) finds her and takes her in. Cardboard perfection attracts cardboard perfection, and after some mawksy exchanges of token "You're beautiful! You're sexy! You're gorgeous! And oh yeah, you're intelligent - let's make luuuurrrve!", they hit the sack.

By here I am prepared to lie down and take a long, nice nap. There's nothing like overdone perfection and an overdose of superlatives from impossibly perfect and unrealistically superb characters to make me see Z flying in my eyes. It doesn't help matters that Char is the typical I don't trust men, I have lots of bad exes and sex - oooh! Do that again! hot koochie. Even worse, Tyler's cabin is devoid of electricity and phone, yet Char still finds time to do her hair and skin good. I hate these women. I want their beauty secrets.

Then comes the tornado to blow everything away. See, I knew the idyllic perfection is too good to be true! After one week of hot sex and mawksy love bites, they remember there is a life outside their pumpies. Char gets to her car (after a week - okay, I'll suspend disbelief), gets her purse, and discovers, oh my, she is the woman Tyler blames for the death of his wife ages ago!

Tyler drops her like hot coal, and our heroine starts the sad R&B tune about being dumped and all.

In another book, I would be going all Tori Amos and wondering about how easy it is for all those vows of forever after amen can be broken after a week. How did the song go? And I hate disintegration/Watching us wither/Black winged roses that safely changed their colors... But here, I am only relieved that for the first time, the characters exhibit human traits - betrayal, violent denial, forgiveness, and letting go of the past.

The author handles these aspects deftly and very well in the second half. I am convinced in the end that Tyler will be constant in his vows and stuff (not easy, considering he never grovelled enough for my liking), and yes, maybe these two are real people after all.

It's a pity that all the good stuff about Snowbound With Love - emotional intensity and real drama - is shelved after the high sugar mountain that is Tyler and Char's unrealistically perfect insurance ad of a weekend getaway. Love isn't all about sugar, it's also about letting go, forgiving, and trust. These two lovebirds fail their first test of love completely, but their second-time-go-around is well-worth reading.

Rating: 80


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