ISBN 0446364797 - This has got to be one of the hardest books for me to review yet. That's not because it's so good that I'm shocked speechless; it's not because it's so BAD that I'm at a loss for words - it's really that it's a combination. This is a really good, touching story... and some of the worst writing I've come across in a long time.
Kathleen was an orphan who found people she loved in B.J. and Edna, the people who ran the Mountain View Encampment, which was open to orphans like herself. As an adult, she returned to Mountain View as a counselor and B.J. and Edna were thrilled to have her. What they didn't know was that she'd quit her job, running away from a male co-worker who'd been coming on too strong.
Erik Gudjonsen was a videographer who came to Mountain View to do a piece about the place. He and Kathleen follow the path of all romance novel couples. They meet and clash, end up spending time together and fall in love, have sex and then tragedy strikes. Erik is badly injured in an accident and taken to a hospital where Kathleen sits, waiting for information when Mrs. Gudjonsen is shown directly into Erik's room. Unaware that this is his sister-in-law, and not bothering to ask, Kathleen flees without a word to anyone.
She finds work far away, working for Seth Kirchoff of Kirchoff's Department Stores - a paraplegic with a sense of humor and a heart of gold. When she wants to quit her new job because she's found out she's pregnant, he asks her to marry him. They wed and Erik's son is raised as Seth's own, sharing with his "parents" a wonderful, happy life until one day, in a strange twist of fate, Seth hires a man to make commercials for the stores - and that man is Erik.
Despite the ridiculousness of it, it's common in romance novels for people to meet and fall in love in under 48 hours, and certainly to wind up having sex. Especially when one of those people is a 25 year old virgin. If you've held onto your virginity that long, of course you're going to lose it to the first man to take you skinny dipping while you're supposed to be responsible for the well-being of a group of children. That's really not the worst of the book. The worst is that lines such as "The other young man had stood up in hopes of making a show of self-defense, but his belly was plowed into with an iron fist, and then, as he leaned over in agony, he, too, knew the rocketing pain of Erik's punch to his jaw." crop up, highlighting Brown's poor skills.
The sex scenes are even more badly done than that, with some of the most incredibly stupid things coming out of the mouths of Brown's characters. "Oh, Erik, I can't believe that you're touching me this way." "Believe it." and "Sweet...!" he grated. "You've always been ready for me, Kathleen. Oh, God, I thought my memory had embellished how good it was with us, but it hadn't. If anything, my love, the memory was diluted." made me laugh out loud - and not in a good way. On page 88, Kathleen refers to Erik as "vital to her life" - after knowing him for THREE DAYS!
Sadly, the story really IS good. Seth's unselfish handling of every aspect of his life, from his disability to raising Kathleen's son as his own, makes his final, most selfless act that much more touching. That Kathleen has a history of running away from problems makes Seth's suggestion of marriage more palatable - otherwise, it's impossible to believe that any two people would marry, love each other, and live sexlessly on separate floors of the same house. If Brown had just left out the really bad sex scenes and developed certain plot points better, I'd be happy to five star this. As it is, two's all I can do.
Nature-loving Kathleen, who, at the start, has given up her high-stress--plus sexually harassing--job as a fashion buyer in Atlanta to work as a counselor at a summer camp for orphans. Kathleen has a wild passionate love affair with Erik Gudjonsen, only to find hell never be hers. Will she settle for the man that does love her?
I really enjoyed this book.
Good story, a little sad at the end.