Lyrics of Love

Still In Love

Wedding Bells

Star Crossed by Francine Craft
(Arabesque/BET, $5.99, PG) ISBN 1-58314-099-9
Lance Carrington has returned to Crystal Lake, Maryland, to care for his ailing father. Not everyone in his hometown is happy to have him back. A year has passed since his wife was brutally murdered and he was acquitted of the crime. A cloud of suspicion still follows him. And, while the sheriff and a few townspeople are convinced of his guilt, Fairen Wilder is certain he is innocent.

That's a big vote of confidence for Lance. Fairen is a journalist and co-owner of the local paper. She is also Lanceís sister-in-law and the fraternal twin sister of the murder victim.

Lance and Fairen have been close friends through all the really tough times in their lives. The death of Fairenís son in a traffic accident. The guilt, accusations and bitter divorce that followed her sonís death. Lanceís tumultuous marriage to Fairenís sister, Erika. The murder, the trial and the verdict.

Now that Lance has returned to Crystal Lake, he and Fairen have discovered their deep feelings for each other. (A nagging question throughout the novel is why they did not get together initially. They knew each other and even had a double wedding ceremony!) However, Lance now feels emotionally bankrupt and unable to fully love Fairen until he clears his name. For her part, Fairen feels the lingering ghost of her sister haunting their relationship. As their love intensifies, Lance and Fairen join forces to solve the mystery.

They follow clues, interview people who knew Erika and even consult a psychic. Of course, Erikaís killer is watching, waiting and unleashing a campaign of terror against Fairen. As Fairenís safety is jeopardized, Lance is determined to protect her.

Star Crossed continues an upswing in Francine Craft's work that began with her story, "Love Made in Heaven," in the 1999 Wedding Bells anthology. (Arabesque/BET Books is reissuing the collection next month and it is worth a look.) The title refers to Fairen and Lanceís relationship and his work as a university astronomy professor.

I liked Star Crossed. Both the narrative and the suspense are tighter than in the authorís previous romances. As the mystery unraveled I began to suspect who the killer was, but the underlying motive was still a bit of a surprise.

The chemistry between the two main characters is strong. However, I found the prose a bit purple in some of their scenes together. Secondary characters and, at least three secondary romances, add interest to the story without getting in the way.

However, Star Crossed is a likeable story that is worth a look.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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