Signet, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-451-23633-3
Historical Romance, 2011 (Reissue)
Love, Come to Me was first published in 1989, and, judging from the author’s foreword, this edition is a straightforward reissue. Like many romance novels back in the 1980s, this one is also very reliant on painful arguments, wrong assumptions, and communication breakdown to keep the story going.
Heath Rayne is a Southerner who has moved to Concord, Massachusetts to start a new life after the Civil War has ended. Lucinda Caldwell is the spoiled beautiful creature who leaves her home in a huff after an argument with her fiancé only to nearly drown in a river. Heath saves her and they spend some time together thanks to the snow storm that makes it hard for them to go home. Heath has always wanted her ever since he saw her working in her father’s store, and, naturally, he knows that she is better off with him. So, despite the fact that she’s engaged to another man, he makes the moves on her. She protests before and after each time, but she is most agreeable during, if you know what I mean. I feel bad for her fiancé, Daniel, because if he had the foresight to debauch Lucy, she may not be so susceptible to Heath’s roaming fingers and tongue. At any rate, these two have fun playing the no-good-cheating-dog game, but when they are hopelessly compromised and are forced to marry… you know what they say about being careful about what you wish for.
For a moment before the wedding, the main characters exhibit a moment of shocking clarity, when they both talk about how they should share the blame of what has happened to them. But the wedding march is barely over when these two begin going at it like two very petulant brats determined to upstage each other in displays of childish behavior. She starts blaming him for her predicament and refusing to be nice to him, only to then whine that he isn’t being nice to her when she has driven him off. He barks orders at her and then throws a temper tantrum when she predictably refuses to go along with him like a besotted poodle. He doesn’t tell her anything and it starts to look like he’s having an affair behind her back. And on and on, they go.
It’s ridiculous, really, especially when they know what the other person is like before they marry. Heath actually admired her headstrong petulance back then, while she was all warm and gooey over his arrogant and commanding presence. But once they get married, then he begins resenting her for not being a meek poodle while she starts railing at him for being an arrogant and cold SOB. It’s actually hilarious, this situation, if all that argument and communication breakdown isn’t so excruciating to read. The romance isn’t believable because these two enter the marriage expecting the other person to change to meet their standards while refusing to compromise on their part, and by the last page, I don’t see any believable evidence that these two have changed their position about the other person. The happy ending seems to be another anomalous sane moment, and it’s very likely that these two will start going at it over something trivial that will be blown out of proportion.
This story also has some unintentionally amusing Southern propaganda. The Northerners are portrayed as a cold and unkind lot, their men lacking in the masculinity department, and even the environment is poor compared to the South, which we all know is populated by virile gentlemen playing with their fifteen-inch piddles as the sun shines on them all year long. The thing is, if Heath is the ideal representative of the Southern notion of masculinity, he’s not doing a good job in making that notion appealing. Love, Come to Me? Love, GTFO, more like.