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meant to be married

Category Romance Review: Meant To Be Married by Ruth Wind

category romance
Meant to Be Married by Ruth Wind
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1998
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Silhouette Special Edition #1194
Published by: Silhouette
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 248
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Meant To Be Married by Ruth Wind

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Meant To Be Married by Ruth Wind (aka Barbara Samuels) is a powerful romance that brought tears to my eyes. This second-chance-at-love story is underscored by superb characterization and a sensitive writer’s hand.

The Characters and Setup

Meant To Be Married begins a decade in the past when Elias Santiago and Sarah Greenwood defied their families to become lovers. The teenage Romeo and Juliet were precisely that: two youths from feuding clans who fell in love with one another and had to keep their relationship secret.

For over a century, Santiago and Greenwood blood has been shed via lynchings, murders, and suicides. Legend says the feud began when a Santiago male violated a Greenwood female. The Greenwoods hanged the Santiago man, and in turn, the Greenwood woman killed herself. Was it due to shame or could it have been heartbreak?

Whatever the reason, the enmity between the families has grown stronger over time.

The high school sweethearts are on their way out of state to elope. Then a change of heart makes them turn back to contact their parents. Sarah’s father is a police officer, and to their dismay, they are met on the road with sirens and flashing red and blue lights.

Elias, who is a couple of years older than Sarah, is taken away and arrested. Sarah is whisked off to a home for pregnant girls. There she languishes for months, with no word from Elias. But how can he contact her when he’s trapped in jail for months before being released and has no idea where Sarah is? After she gives birth, Sarah’s parents put the baby up for a closed adoption.

Sarah goes to New York to become an acclaimed photographer, snapping pics of models and celebrities. Elias stays behind in their hometown of Taos, New Mexico, and opens a thriving tea business. Time and distance separate them, but they have a bond that will unite them.

The Plot

After Sarah’s father has a heart attack, she receives a call from her mother, begging her to return home. Through the years, Sarah has visited her parents, but never for more than a day at a time. However, it’s time to put old ghosts to rest. Sarah returns to Taos. It’s no surprise when she sees Elias again, and their attraction is as vibrant as it was in the past. Even more so in the present time.

Years ago, there had been many obstacles in their way. They were too young. Their families were involved in a generations-long feud. The Greenwoods were upper class, and the Santiagos, although upwardly mobile, weren’t quite there yet The Greenwoods are Anglo-European; the Santiagos are Hispanic, a mix of Spanish and Amerindian heritage.

Now, some circumstances have changed, while some things remain as they always have. But fate will play a guiding hand, forcing Elias and Sarah to cross paths. Elias has a teenage niece with aspirations of being a model. He reaches out to Sarah, offering to pay her to photograph the girl and create a portfolio. Sarah reluctantly agrees.

As the two meet up again and again, they cannot deny their feelings for one another. How can they mend the wounds of the past when the wounds are still raw and gaping open?

Ruth Wind’s beautiful prose had me immersed in the semi-tragic love story. There were points when the suffering was overwhelming. She had me hissing at the contemptuous attitudes of the senior generations. I was enthusiastically rooting for Elias and Sarah to make it as a forever couple.

Final Analysis of Meant to Be Married

The ending of Meant to Be Married was a bittersweet conclusion. For although Elias and Sarah are finally reunited, theirs is an incomplete joining. A vital piece is missing, and their happily-ever-after is not a perfect one.

And then, the epilogue comes along and gives them a ray of hope. That was a real punch-in-the-gut moment. I truly felt Elias and Sarah’s joy and pain.

This book was a beautifully written romance. Meant to Be Married is so close to perfection. It’s a keeper, although, at times, the anguish was too much to bear. I get misty-eyed simply thinking about Elias and Sarah’s torment. Regardless of what they endured, the power of love proves paramount.

Even if the ending isn’t wrapped up in a pretty ribbon, the pair have found each other again. They will finally get married, as was meant to be.

Rating Report Card
Plot
5
Characters
5
Writing
5
Chemistry
5
Fun Factor
4.5
Cover
4
Overall: 4.8

Synopsis

If only they had married, all those years ago…

But their warring families did everything in their power to keep Elias and Sarah apart — short of destroying their love for each other. And soon enough the Santiagos and the Greenwoods succeeded in tearing the young beauty from her darkly handsome — and forbidden — groom-to-be…

Now Sarah was back in town, but she was unprepared to see the bitterness in Elias’s eyes — or the desire that still simmered there. If only for a moment they could forget the past, they could have it all — the love, the family, the future they once dreamed of….

Meant To Be Married by Ruth Wind
merry christmas

Category Romance Review: Merry Christmas by Emma Darcy

Merry Christmas, Emma Darcy, Harlequin, 1997, Cover Artist TBD

Harlequin Presents #1923

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Before I discuss this romance, let me address the unfortunate cover. I don’t care how awesome that free book bag was! The editors at Harlequin dropped the ball with this one! That vast yellow oval covers the main couple’s faces. You can’t see the heroine, the hero, or that this was Emma Darcy‘s 60th book.

Simply titled Merry Christmas, Emma Darcy’s category romance foray into the holidays may have you near tears. It may also have you wishing some evil villains get their well-deserved comeuppance. This book throws almost every trope at you but the metaphorical kitchen sink. It’s an angst-filled yet ultimately very happy Christmas Harlequin Presents.

Christmas Past

Many years ago, Meredith or Merry (Get it? Merry as in Merry Christmas?) Palmer had a summer romance with college student Nick Hamilton. Merry lied about her age, as she was technically a minor. She and Nick fell into what Meredith believed was true love. But Merry’s wicked stepmother caught wind of the relationship and informed the 21-year-old Nick he was dating a 16-year-old.

Summer came to an end. Nick went off to school, leaving Merry with a promise to reconnect every Christmas. He believed it was better they go their separate ways for the time being. They needed to both grow up a little before delving deeper into commitment.

As is usual in these cases, the affair left Merry pregnant. Merry, an orphan, lived only with her cruel stepmother. After her stepmom kicked her out, she had no one to turn to. So Merry went to Nick’s family, hoping she could get in contact with Nick. That’s when Nick’s (also) cruel sister gave her shocking news. Nick had been in a surfing accident, and his memory was affected so severely that he had no recollection of their “love.”

So Merry could just scat, thank you very much.

When Merry revealed her pregnancy as the reason she needed to talk with Nick, the sister pounced. She manipulated Merry into thinking it would be best if Merry gave her child up for adoption. The sister conspired to take the baby and raise her as her own child, never letting Nick know he was his “niece’s” true father.

Christmas Present

Over a decade later, the sister and her husband are dead. Their “daughter” Kimberly is under her uncle Nick’s guardianship, who has no idea of her true parentage. Kimberly’s not too keen on her uncle’s girlfriend and knows the feeling is mutual. She had heard enough secret conversations in the past to learn she was adopted. Consequently, she demands to meet her biological mother.

Somehow Nick is able to track Merry down. She’s now working as a successful florist. When Merry and Nick meet once more, alas, he doesn’t recognize her at all. Merry is devastated that he doesn’t recall their love affair, which meant so much to her. She’s been celibate and pining for him for over 12 years.

Merry is anxious to meet Kimberly. Nevertheless, she is devastated the love of her life doesn’t remember her.

Making the situation worse is that Nick has a mean fiancee who thinks she’s better than everyone else. Merry and Kimberly included.

Nick is drawn to Merry, as deep in his subconscious he knows that there’s a connection between them. When the fiancee gets kicked to the curb, Nick pursues Merry.

Kimberly, for her part, is delighted. She hated her uncle’s girlfriend. Nothing would please her more if her mother and her “uncle” were to fall in love.

Christmas Future

But keep in mind, Nick still doesn’t remember who Merry is. He wants to know more about Kimberly’s parentage. The story of Merry having a summer-fling with a young man who pledged to keep in touch but never did resonates with Nick.

Just who is Merry?

In the end, all is revealed. The truth behind Merry and Nick’s separation and Kimberly’s heritage comes to light. Nick is shocked by the depths of his sister’s machinations. It’s a good thing she’s dead. There’s no one left alive to be punished for her crimes. Rather than dwell on bitterness, Merry, Nick, and Kimberly focus on their newfound happiness and the future.

Final Analysis of Merry Christmas

The trio comes together as a family in the unity of Christmas. The ending of Merry Christmas was super sweet. It’s the kind of story that makes you believe in miracles.

I initially gave this 3 1/2 stars, added an extra 1/2 star for its wonderfully corny and uplifting Holiday spirit.