My True Love
by Karen Ranney, historical (2000)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-80591-X

My True Love doesn't exactly match its prequel My Beloved in terms of memorability, but it does offer lyrical writing and some pretty searing emotional scenes. My True Loveis a welcome relief from the usual so-so romances I've been reading of late.

Stephen Harrington, a descendant of the two main characters in MB, is badly infected and is almost delirious when he first encounters Anne Sinclair. Anne has seen Stephen before in her dreams ever since she was a child. In fact, she has seen Stephen grow up to the man he is today. She has come all the way from Scotland to prove to herself that Stephen does exist and she may not be mad.

What she finds is a magnetically handsome man who is wounded both in body and mind. Stephen suffers from emotional scars from his sojourn in the Royalist troops, fighting a war that only challenges his ideal belief in duty and patriotism.

Stephen saves Anne and her companion Hannah from some silly Parlimentarian oafs. He gives them shelter, and in turn entranced by Anne's beauty as well as her ability to understand and soothe him. All written in nicely poetic style that makes me sigh.

There's also a nice, heartwarming romance between Hannah and Stephen's friend, a doctor. There's also a lovely scene where the main characters rediscover the love story of Juliana and Sebastian of MB, beautiful in its simplicity.

What My True Love offers is an enchanting tale of destiny and love. Sometimes the characters do things that aren't pretty, but I love them more for that. Love sometimes require great sacrifices and some heartache on everyone's part, and to see that addressed in My True Love only adds to the believability of the main characters. They seem human, Stephen seems human, a man whose amount of mental angst is nicely balanced by his kindness and sense of honor. He does some things that may not endear him to some readers who want a clearer and less subtle demonstration of virtue and morality, but me, I love Stephen, and that he makes some difficult choices that he deems right only makes him more compelling as a hero.

And Anne's love for him, stemmed from watching this man grow up and live, is wonderfully done. Not at all Tweety Bird material, this woman. That her affection only matures upon knowing Stephen is also a nice touch.

Sure, the pace can really be agonizingly slow at times, and I have no idea what Ian is doing in the story (memo to Ian: get your agent to haggle for more screen, er, book time the next time around), but My True Love is a nice, warm trip into a world of magical writing. It may not top My Beloved, but it's still worth the visit. Whimsical and poignant, that's My True Love.

Rating: 86

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