Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-6696-1
Historical Romance, 2000
I have reread this book twice now and I still scratch my head over what the big fuss hero Noah Garrett perceives his problem as. I don’t see why he should beat himself bloody in self-absorbed bitterness, and since his emotional torment is the focus of this story, I don’t get the story at all. I find it hard to muster any sympathy for him or the things he put heroine Elle Beaumont through.
Let me try to straighten out Noah’s problems again. Let’s see. Noah grew up worshiping his brothers Caleb and Zach, while protecting the French girl next door, Elle, from bullies (the latter including his brothers). One day, a 14-year old Elle stumbled upon late Mama Garrett’s diary which reveals – gasp – that Noah was actually the result of an affair. (Ladies, never write incriminating evidence in diaries, trust me, they will always get read one way or the other.)
When Caleb snatched the diary from Elle and proceeded to read it aloud in Noah’s presence… oh boy.
Noah blows up.
Years later, Noah is back in town, this time the new marine biologist. Elle is eking out a living as a companion to an elderly lady. They meet, and old attractions flare anew.
Now Noah, for some reason, blames Elle for his troubles. That’s the impression I get even after two readings, and I am hard-pressed to see his logic here. He voluntarily took care of her when they were kids, right? So why begrudge her now? He seems to be fond of his brothers before, so why the acrimony now? What’s the big deal about illegitimacy in the 1890s anyway, at least when your step-siblings are so willing to mend fences with you?
But Noah, he drags this torment of his on and on, and everyone around him isn’t spared from the misery fallout. Elle, a decent heroine, ends up alternately confused, bewildered, and finally, exasperated. After all this jumping through hoops he put her, I better hope there is a good grovel at the end to make all this seemingly misguided attempt at out-cooling Byron worth my while. And Elle’s.
But even during the grand grovel, I still don’t see what the big fuss is about, and I still don’t understand this man. And Elle succumbs into his arms so soon after the perfunctory grovel anyway.
I can’t help feeling cheated on behalf of Elle. Tides of Love is just a story of misguided men who can’t see further than their own self-absorbed misery to know that they are putting their women through unnecessary pain and heartache.