The plot of To Cherish My Beloved by Dorothy Heaton relies heavily on contrivances, which may disappoint discerning readers.
Magnum Books Blue Fire Romance #4200-81
A Promise Not Delivered
I’m very fond of the Magnum romance line published during the seventies. Someone was carefully curating the best products of the big British publishers for reprinting in the US. Often, the result was a winner. But often isn’t always.
First published in 1976 by IPC Magazines Ltd. in the Women’s Weekly Library series, To Cherish My Beloved by Dorothy Heaton (aka Mary Cummins) in its 1977 Magnum reprint caught my eye with an intriguing blurb and a gorgeous emo clinch cover; wish I knew who created it. The first few chapters presented a fascinating situation. I just had to find out what happened next!
A lot of stuff did, but the story failed to live up to its early promise. So I must be frank: this book is a dud.
Now You See Him, Now You Don’t
Candice Errinmore, an assistant to an airport manager on the south coast of England, is engaged to Clive Benley. But not for long. He’s a mercurial, impulsive, self-centered drama king. He threatens to kill himself when she lets him know she’s had it with him. Then he goes missing while swimming off the seashore. Did he drown? Was Candice to blame?
Of course, she wasn’t, but that’s all she’s sure of. As the days wear on and Clive fails to turn up, the local gossip blames her more and more. For reasons that hardly warrant explanation, she accepts a job on the other side of England as the administrator of a heliport. Their choppers take off to supply the then-new oil rigs in the North Sea.
Oops, She Did It Again
A change of venue might mean a second chance for love. Sure enough, her boss, Martin Starr, manager of the nearby airport, falls for her hot and hard, if rather clumsily. Candice won’t warm to him.
But another man hovers onto the scene, literally. A cocky helicopter pilot with all the warmth of an ice sculpture. And who should it be but Jonathan Benley, brother of the missing Clive? The person who is most suspicious of Candice and her role in the disappearance.
And Then What?
As I mentioned earlier, a lot of stuff happens. Much is potentially interesting. But after the initial episodes, the story fails to come to life. Largely because the focal figures fail as well.
Candice is more of a character sketch than a character. Ditto the rest of the cast. Except for Clive, who’s out of there quickly.
Eventually, there’s a romantic relationship, but it lacks chemistry. And it takes forever to develop. There’s a slow burn, and then there’s a no burn. Guess which one this romance is.
The plot depends heavily on contrivances. I’ve already mentioned one: how the missing man’s brother turns up in the heroine’s life. There’s an even bigger one at the end. But I doubt a discerning reader would stick around that long.
Thumbs Up? Thumbs Down?
Down, of course. But just because this book stuck out with me doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t appeal to somebody. If you want to check it out, you can search for free at the Internet Archive, the online lending library with a humongous catalog, including reams of vintage romances.