Desert Isle Keeper Review

A Whole New Light
(This DIK review was written by a reader)

Sandra Brown
1992 reissue of 1989 release, Contemporary Romance
Fanfare, $7.50, 304 pages, Amazon ASIN 055329783X

Grade: A
Sensuality: Warm

Sandra Brownís series romances are my guilty pleasures. Despite contrived plots, too many virginal heroines to count and slightly outdated moral standards, they appeal to me on a gut-level. A Whole New Light, however, is in my opinion one of her best series romances. It is a light, sexy, feel-good book and a perfect summer read. A few hours, barring interruptions, should be enough to devour it, and I am sure it will provide for some moments of unadulterated reading pleasure.

The premise is one of my favorites: two high school buddies who have always had the most wonderful platonic relationship, suddenly fall in love with each other. It is a story that can fall flat if not handled delicately, but Sandra Brown has created an absolutely delightful little book that captures all the confusion, emotional chaos and forbidden sexual attraction that the two protagonists experience.

Worth Lansing and Tim and Cyn McCall have been the best of friends since high school. Together they went through college, Tim and Cynís marriage, the establishment of their own law firm, Cynís pregnancy and the birth of her little son Brandon. When Tim dies in a car accident, Cyn and Worth become even closer in their grief and eventual recovery. Now, two years after Timís death, Cyn is still not ready for a new relationship, despite Worthís urging her to get a life. When one of his numerous dates cancels their vacation to Acapulco, he persuades Cyn to join him instead.

Right from the start it becomes clear that these two have a special relationship: they share their innermost secrets, tease each other, give the other back rubs and are perfectly comfortable together. Yet their friendship is convincingly platonic until they end up in the same hotel bed and the same swimming pool. While joking around, a sudden sexual attraction catches both of them unawares. They are stunned and desperately try to deny it. After all, they are like brother and sister, so there should be no need to get all jittery when seeing the other in a bathing suit or dancing with each other. Worth thinks lusting after his best friend's widow is disgusting and Cyn tries just as hard to fight down the feeling, to no avail. On their last night, they end up in bed. By then, the reader has become so entangled in the web of sexual tension that Sandra Brown deftly weaves that the love scene, though short and to the point, is quite powerful.

Of course, Cyn and Worth are a little shocked about what happened and blame it on the heat and the exotic surroundings. But even at home, where they try to resume their normal friendship, they cannot keep their hands off each other. It is really amusing to see them try to regain control over their emotions by discussing the matter in a rational way, and failing miserably each time. There is so much warmth and understanding between them that it seems perfectly natural that they should be attracted to each other. This is no I-hate-you-letís-go-to-bed relationship. Cyn and Worth respect each other, like each other and eventually love each other, itís as simple as that.

This is what I like about the book: there is no big misunderstanding, no complicated plot, just the story of two people falling in love. The characters are immensely likable (and Worth is a gorgeous hero!), the love scenes are sexy, and the writing is fresh and concise. If you are in the mood for a short and sweet, though not too profound read, I would definitely recommend A Whole New Light.

The book will always have a special place in my heart, because it was the first contemporary romance and also the first romance of the more modern, post-Woodiwiss type that I read. And it really opened up a whole new world to me. I cherish my battered copy of the book, which I found in a dusty old bookstore. I can honestly say that it sealed my love for romance once and for all.

-- Vivien Fritsche

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