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Category Romance Review: A Love to Last Forever by Linda Randall Wisdom

MILD SPOILERS ūüėČ

The Book

A Love to Last Forever by Linda Randall Wisdom is a fine romance between two former high school classmates, Stacy McAllister and Clarence “Mike” Harper. It’s 1986, and a 20-year class reunion brings the protagonists together. While Stacy was a popular cheerleader and prom queen who dated the captain/ quarterback of the football team, Mike had been a chubby, pimple-faced nerd who students like Stacy’s boyfriend had picked on.

Characters

Stacy

Stacy’s life is not running as smoothly as it had years before. She’d once had a promising future with a scholarship to North Western University but gave it up to marry her boyfriend a week after graduation. While that marriage resulted in a daughter, it ended in divorce when Stacy had enough of her husband’s abuse.

A second marriage also ended in divorce after she got pregnant with a son.

Now Stacy works in the same small town she grew up in, working as a secretary to a sleazy life insurance salesman. She drives an old jalopy of a station wagon. She has two radically distinct children: a hyperactive but helpful son and a truculent teenage daughter who seems to hate her.

Ex #2 is nowhere to be found, but ex #1 is still around, late with child support payments, occasionally hitting on Stacy, and usually drunk and mean. An ex-boyfriend, the local sheriff, also pops up to give her ten-year-old son tickets for speeding on a bicycle!

Mike

Mike’s life has changed, too but on a different trajectory. He was once the youngest kid in class due to being promoted several grades ahead due to his intelligence. Now, he’s a successful juvenile psychologist. Mike’s in good physical shape and at the prime of his life at 35.

Although he has one divorce behind him, Mike is well-adjusted, in touch with his feelings (so it seems), and a clear thinker.

Plot

Class of 1966

The attraction is instantaneous and palpable when Mike and Stacy reconnect at the class reunion. Mike had a big crush on Stacy back in the day, and Stacy can’t believe how hunky the former geek is now.

When they meet again, Mike makes no bones about his desire for Stacy. Stacy’s ambivalent about getting into yet another relationship. She’s made bad choices regarding men in the past, but Mike couldn’t be more different from them. He’s got it together, and as an “older” woman (she’s 38), she’s a bit insecure.

Nevertheless, Stacy can’t deny her attraction, and while Mike’s in town for a few weeks, she figured what’s wrong with a few dates?

Class of 1986

The problem is life cannot be compartmentalized so easily. Stacy finds herself falling deeply for Mike. Mike, in the meantime, has to deal with insecurities from the past coming back to haunt him. His marriage failed because a part of him was stuck back in high school, loving memory of a girl whose smiles were the only bright spots of miserable adolescence.

He’s a great father figure to her son. Stacy’s daughter Gail’s persnickety behavior is a mystery to her. Because of Mike’s profession, he’s able to draw Gail out of her shell and get mother and daughter to communicate and deal with Gail’s very complicated emotional issues.

Mike and Gail finally give in to their passion on a trip to St. Louis. They feel an intense bonding never experienced before. This is more than lust; it’s love. Mike wants forever, not an affair. But Gails’ insecurities may be too much and drive them apart. Will they ever be able to leave the past behind and move on to make a life together?

Final Analysis of A Love to Last Forever

Because A Love to Last Forever by Linda Randall Wisdom is an older romance, the writing here isn’t as reflective as one would find in a modern one. Events occur, and people react and move on. There’s lots of head-hopping within the same pages but done in a way to keep the plot moving forward rather than pondering or focusing on internal angst.

As an aside, it’s funny how a book from 1986 makes me feel so young and old simultaneously. Stacy & Mike graduated from high school 29 years before I did, so that I couldn’t relate to her era of grooviness and mod/ midwestern styles. Plus, Stacy’s diet of spaghetti, pancakes, and hamburgers while keeping trim had me rethinking my diet.

Her daughter listening to Duran Duran and Cyndi Lauper and Stacy knowing the artists had me cracking up. If I had a teenager today, there’s no way I could identify any modern music. It’s the same pulsing beats or bland pop to me.

When other women delight in Stacy’s fall from grace, they lambast her for wearing clothes she made herself from patterns in McCall’s (Vogue magazine, actually), I laughed. Can you imagine that today? Have you seen the price of bolts of fabric? Making your own clothes costs much more than buying the semi-disposable garments sold at basic stores.

So, my final analysis of A Love to Last Forever? This novel was a satisfying romance with flawed characters who felt like real people falling in love. The conclusion is fitting. Stacy returns to school, her kids are better-adjusted, and she and Mike are passionately in love with a blended family that accepts who they are. A genuinely joyful, happy ending.

3.62 Stars


Synopsis

Once Stacy McAllister had been Carver High’s Most Likely to Succeed, and Mike Harper had been the class outcast. But at the reunion a devastating new Mike Harper, a man she’d never known, swept Stacy off her feet. With the sadness and failures of her past, Stacy felt worlds removed from her golden days. Love seemed a luxury she could no longer afford. Mike had become an astonishing social and professional success, the talk of the town. Soon he’d go back to St. Louis, taking a chunk of her past and a piece of her heart with him. She’d already given him a lot, but Mike wanted more. But she was a two-time loser. Did she dare to dream of a love that could last forever?¬†

A LOVE TO LAST FOREVER BY LINDA RANDALL WISDOM
Man in Control

Category Romance Review: Man in Control by Alice Morgan

The Book

If you watch Madonna’s “Material Girl” video, that pretty much sums up the plot of this category romance. Man in Control by Alice Morgan features a unique heroine. She’s an avaricious young woman who openly acknowledges that she’s looking to settle down with a man, not for love but for money.

This Dell Candlelight Ecstasy Supreme wasn’t fabulous or anything (few of them really were). However, the book was quirky enough to hold my interest, even if it could have been shortened by 100 pages.

The Plot

Samantha Thatcher has come to San Francisco to look for a rich sugar daddy to sink her red claws into. And why shouldn’t she? She’s young, beautiful, and poor, so a girl ought to know what’s in her best interest. Her aunt has lined up several prospective candidates for Sam to date.

On her way to her aunt’s, she gets a flat tire. A handsome red-haired trucker named Steele pulls over to fix her flat. He’s a charming fellow who takes an immediate interest in Sam. When he finds out why she is in town, he’s determined to show her that there’s more to a husband than what’s in his pants–er, wallet.

Sam has no patience for the arrogant trucker, who thinks he knows her better than she knows herself. Steele volunteers to show Sam a good time, that is, when she’s not busy going on dates with millionaire duds.

Steele takes her on picnics and drives her around in his beat-up old truck, openly pursuing Sam while she plays a flirtatious game with him. Sam is intrigued by this strange man, who has enough cash to take her to fine restaurants but can’t seem to assemble a decent wardrobe.

Just who is Steele, and what is he hiding?

Final Analysis of Man in Control

This was a funny, silly book, not exactly the best written, but it was amusing to see the openly- greedy Sam fall for Steele’s charming antics. I appreciate flawed main characters, so it was a nice change of pace to read a book about a spoiled heroine instead of a perfect Mary Sue.

Although the premise does wear a bit thin for a 300-page book, it’s an amusing way to spend a few hours.

3 Stars


Synopsis

Samantha Thatcher was seeing red! The very thought of the redheaded knight-of-the-road who’d fixed her flat tire still filled her with fury He was a brute! A beast!

Beautiful Sam had come to San Francisco with a single purpose: to many a millionaire. Her aunt Margaret had lined up three likely prospects. Spoiled, outspoken, outrageously opinionated, Sam always managed to have her own way. But the handsome hunk of a trucker was insolently indifferent to what Sam said. Her breathless response to his kisses contradicted her every word, from the battered seat of a wrecked pickup to the plush banquettes of the best restaurants in town, Steele Whitfield pursued her. Rich man, poor man, high roller or hick–who was he? And how long could she resist him… a man she couldn’t manipulate… a man in control?

MAN IN CONTROL BY ALICE MORGAN