Every Breath She Takes

Hot Chocolate

Husband, Lover, Stranger


The Morning After
by Suzanne Forster
(Jove, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-515-12800-7
Are you old enough to have read those Ď70ís romance stories where the woman is basically dominated and almost raped by the hero but learns to love it? I kept thinking about those stories while I read this book. It wasnít a good thing to be thinking about. OK, OK, I sort of liked those books. In the Ď70ís. Before I knew any better. I sure donít like them now.

Why was I reminded of them? Well, let me see. Temple Banning wakes up in a luxurious hotel suite, with a wedding gown and bouquet in the room, champagne for two nearby and has no idea why. And that may be the best thing that happens to her in the whole story. Very soon she finds out from a hotel receptionist she is supposed to be married to a Michael St. Gerard. She has never heard of him. She doesnít remember getting married or why she is in the hotel.

Temple is a heroine on her own - - she has just moved to California to take a new job, leaving behind a sulking ex-fiancť and a little sister who both expected Temple to stay and be there for them. Her parents died in Zaire from a terrible virus that she survived. You would think that her survival was good luck for Temple. Ohhhh no. We discover that is the thing that gets her into all this trouble. Even her good luck is bad news.

Temple goes from disaster to disaster. The mysterious St. Gerard calls -- after she discovers she is pregnant. He has hired the equally mysterious Mark Challis to protect her because she may be in danger. Soon, an elevator Temple and Challis are in begins to freefall and barely stops in time to keep them from crashing. Later, her car blows up with her best friend in it. Mark Challisí protection gets tighter and tighter until she ends up on an isolated island that his family owns.

Is this truly a Gothic story or what? No matter what Temple tries -- and she tries a lot - - she canít get away, she canít figure out what is going on and she canít get over this attraction she has to Challis.

And, to be honest, I donít know why she is attracted to him. He is handsome. He is mysterious. You discover he is supposed to be devoted to her. But he has her under surveillance all the time, he lies to her, he puts her in danger and - - well, I donít get the attraction. Heís too frightening.

You discover that he is trying to save someone else while all this is going on, but it doesnít matter. Maybe part of the problem is that you donít see Temple and Challis together enough. Maybe you donít see his human side enough. Whatever the reason, if I met this hero I would try to run, screaming, and never ever come back. Temple finally escapes from terrible danger with a rather mystical experience that I did not completely buy. But perhaps I didnít want to at that point.

The writing is good, the suspense is thick, and the heroine is courageous, so The Morning After isnít an awful read. And when Temple returns to Challis for the final time to confront him, I was not happy even though I suppose it qualified as a ďromanticĒ ending. Not liking the romance in a book? Now that is a sad thing.

--Irene Williams

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