September 2008, Series Romance
Harl American Romance #1226, $4.99, 210 pages, Amazon ASIN 037375230X Part of a series
I tend to like stranded-in-the-wilderness stories. Maybe it’s just my inner ten-year-old’s desire to be a survivalist that hasn’t quite disappeared, but I always like seeing the hero and heroine of a romance work to save each other.
Cari Michaels worked for what she has, from living on food stamps to a career as vice president for a department store. She’s gotten just about everything she’s wanted - except Reed Preston, her boss, with whom she’s been in love for ages. She’s always been afraid to act on her affection, though, both because of their professional relationship, and also because she knows she’s from a different world than he is. However, her world turns upside down when he announces that he’s engaged.
Reed may be CEO, but he’s still under the control of his father, so when he finally meets a woman his father didn’t set him up with, he jumped on the opportunity to date, then marry, her – even though he still has this attraction to his VP that he doesn’t quite know what to do about. But soon after he announces his engagement, the plane in which he and Cari are traveling crashes in the western Texas desert, leaving only the two of them alive. As they try to figure out how to survive, Reed also begins to reevaluate his life and figure out what he wants and who he is.
Linda Warren includes a lot of great details or dialogue to show something – emotions, tension, whatever. But then she ruins the affect by restating it, in obvious terms, turning good “showing” into “telling.”
Characterizations worked the same way. There were strong points, like Reed’s family issues and Cari’s class struggles, and also weaker ones, such as Reed’s father’s caricature-like perception of poverty and the lower class. Reed and Cari are strong characters, and I liked them both (even though they could both be hard-headed sometimes), but Warren fizzled a bit with the side characters and their storylines, erring too far on the side of archetype rather than fleshing them out into real people. I did like that they were included, and that they also had their own stories. Seeing the other side of what happened in the story was helpful and far more effective than if all we saw were Reed and Cari in the desert.
The plot, too, had both good and bad parts. Overall, the plane crash situation was as believable as it could be in this setup. There were authentic details included, and Cari and Reed seemed to be as prepared as one might expect the average person. There’s no brilliant, MacGuyver-like manipulation of resources that I’ve seen in some survival stories, but they also aren’t so clueless their survival is unbelievable. At the same time, though, there were a few things that failed to add up, and had me asking myself, “Is this even possible? How did they do that?”
In truth, pretty much everything followed this pattern. Every aspect of the story had its strengths, and also its weaknesses. Overall, the good wins out over the bad – you just have to put up with the bad in order to get to the good parts of this story.
-- Jane Granville
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