Saturday, January 23, 2010

Desert Rain

Desert Rain by Elizabeth Lowell

She is a fragile innocent haunted by memories of her past and by dreams of the man who once shared her secrets...the only man she can ever truly love.

One of the world's great beauties, her face and figure grace the fashion pages of the most elegant magazines. Though many desire her, only one may have her.

Holly Shannon North
She is a contradiction: assured yet vulnerable, irresistible yet untouched. Destiny has brought her back to Hidden Springs, where she can be one person, where romance once touched her tender young heart -- back to Lincoln McKenzie, the proud California rancher, long since hardened by life's tragedies. Now, in the icy chill of a desert storm, they must find the way back to love together -- to rekindle the fire whose healing warmth has drawn them home.
--Desert Rain by Elizabeth Lowell, Copyright © 1983 by Ann Maxwell, 1996 by Two of a Kind Inc./Avon Books.

My Synopsis:

Holly Shannon North fell in love with Lincoln McKenzie as a teen, but when her parents were killed, her aunt moved her to New York, forcing her to break all ties. Six years later, she’s back and when they meet again, he doesn’t recognize her.

Little Holly has grown up and become Shannon, a supermodel that every man desires but no man can have.

Linc has no use in his life for beautiful models. His mother was a “model,” as was his stepmother, but they worked more on their backs than in front of a camera. Linc can’t see the difference between the two and when Linc meets “Shannon,” he callously scorns her.

Holly understands where his pain comes from, but his rejection of her still hurts. When they meet up again days later, he doesn’t recognize Shannon, but sees Holly, the girl he fell in love with, but lost. Their attraction is incendiary and Holly agrees to stay with Linc at his home for a few days while they try to figure out where to go with the attraction they feel but can’t seem to resolve.

Holly longs to tell him she’s Shannon, but can’t seem to find the right time. Recognizing herself in Beth, Linc’s younger half-sister, she starts helping Beth gain some self-confidence and vows to help break Linc’s controlling grip on his sister. He’s determined that she won’t end up like her mother, but he can’t see the damage he’s doing.

Can Holly help Linc heal his past and resolve their differences so they can find a way to be together?

My Review:

Okay, my first mistake was reading a book that was originally written when I was a sophomore in high school (1983). My second mistake was in hoping its updates (because she did update it for its 1996 reprinting) would bring the characters’ sensibilities into the modern age. I’m afraid it didn’t.

The story opens with Holly—or rather, her Shannon personality—in the midst of a photo shoot. Into the shoot walks Linc, her one and only love. Problem is, Linc doesn’t recognize Holly/Shannon and thus she is able to make her escape. Three scenes later, after she rescues him from his fallen horse in the middle of a desert storm, they’re making out hot and heavy in her tent and stop just inches from consummating the act. Only after they dress and take care of the horse does he demand “What are you doing back in California?” Sorry, but I would think he would demand to know that as soon as he woke up and realized who was in the sleeping bag with him.

This is what I mean about updating characters’ sensibilities. Writers could get away with this kind of thing back in the 70’s and 80’s, when women were supposed to melt and get all gooey when touched by “the right man.” These days, we don’t do that. I understand that Elizabeth Lowell wanted to keep the story as true to its origins as possible when she was updating it, so I had to grin and bear it as I continued to read.

About a third of the way into the book, once we finally got past all that, the story became more contemporary and was much easier and much more of a pleasure to read.

Because of the cringe-worthy beginning, I give this story THREE STARS.

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