Foundation For Love
by Doreen Rainey, contemporary (2002)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-328-9

There is an underlying theme of destiny and love at first sight in Foundation For Love that appeals to me greatly. The hero Damian Ware and the heroine Christine Davenport are tried and true formulaic figures, but they aren't exactly annoying stereotypes. Confused? So am I.

Doreen Rainey's debut could have been a whimsical read despite its liberal misuse of predictable plot devices, but what spoils it for me is the dialogues and prose that tend to derail into long, long showy expositions and hammy preachings.

And Ms Rainey has plenty of excuses to overdose on hammy carpe-diem and I've-been-hurt-before-never-love-again-ever yammerings. The heroine Christine Davenport is feeling guilty beause she never reconciled with her late mother, a mother who refused to leave an abusive husband that whopped both mother and daughter bad. Damian Ware has been hurt before, and now he will never love again, same old song, same old blues. She runs a fast expanding interior design firm, and they meet at the grand opening party. Oh, they want to love, but both parties have issues galore regarding the opposite sex. What to do, what to do, eh?

This is a simple story in that there is no espionage, no serial killers, and not even an embezzlement case. In a way, it's nice to read an uncluttered story all about two people falling in love, but oh, the tone of the story! These people just don't talk, they launch into mini-monologues fresh out of some motivational book. Everybody seem to love discussing the best ways to be true, good, honest, pure, and they find so much pleasure in it that I feel like I've stumbled upon a seminar of motivational book writers testing their stuff on each other.

Even when Christine and Damian are just bantering, there is a calculated feel to the conversations. It's hard to explain it, but I find the whole lovey-dovey tone rather contrived. The characters have problems that crop up just it seems that they have cleared all the hurdles in their past, and everything gets so neatly tied up in the end that I have to do a haughty Maggie Smith sniff at the whole thing. Everything seems too calculated, too meticulously planned, it is as if I've stumbled upon a Martha Stewart fairy tale.

Too antiseptic and seeming to lack spontaneity, Foundation For Love is too guarded for its own good. It's a pleasant, easy read, but maybe it will be better if Ms Rainey let down her hair and let things flow a little easier. Some easy laughter from her characters, a little less seminar-speech like exposition about hope or courage, and more flavor in the too-formal and too-stilted dialogues will be nice, I think. Oh, and go easy on the clichés, please?

Rating: 76

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