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Lyrics of Love

 
Still in Love by Francine Craft
(Arabesque/BET, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 1-58314-005-0
**
A college friend was dating a guy who seemed perfect for her. After a while they broke up and everyone wondered why. "Girl," she confessed in an unguarded moment, "even his problems had problems!"

I thought about her remarks as I read Francine Craft's Still in Love.

Raine Gibson and Jordan Clymer were high school sweethearts. They planned to marry when fate aided and abetted by his aunt and his mother, for entirely different reasons conspired to keep them apart. Raine, pregnant with Jordan's child, refused to ruin his chances for success by telling him about the baby.

He went away to college in Canada. He was misdiagnosed with a heart condition. His mother died. When Jordan returned, he discovered Raine had married her ex-boyfriend (and his first cousin), Dan. Trying to forget Raine, Jordan married someone else.

When Still in Love begins, Raine is a widow and Jordan is divorced. Seeking a second chance, Jordan returns to their hometown to see her. The old feelings are still there. He takes one look at Raine's daughter and knows the child is his. He and his daughter bond immediately. Jordan and Raine talk and agree to give their relationship another try.

For those of you who are cursing at your computer screens, yelling "Spoiler," rest assured I have not revealed anything beyond the first 35 pages of a nearly 300-page story. At a point, when readers would be assessing the "happily ever after," Still in Love goes on...and on.

Still in Love could have been a wonderful story of misunderstandings clarified. It is not. It could have been a warm and fuzzy story about second chances. It is not. It could have been an interesting secret baby story. It is not. So what is it? Frankly, I'm not really sure.

Still in Love more closely resembles "The Perils of Pauline," or other cliffhangers. This one could be called "When It Raines, It Pours." Jordan and Raine's reconciliation is hampered by a never ending series of quandaries which I can't reveal. I will say, the romantic triangle as a plot device has nothing on the strange relationship polygon the author has constructed. You can't tell the players without a scorecard.

There are so many people cluttering up the action that I never came to know who Raine and Jordan are. I got glimpses of who they were as high school sweethearts ten years before Still in Love opens. While they are survivors who work well together in crisis mode, hopefully their lives would settle down. I couldn't get invested in the development of the relationship beyond the upheavals. And, after all the turmoil the couple has endured, the resolution didn't ring true for me. The answers came too easily after all that strife.

Ironically, there was a stress-free secondary relationship between two love-weary characters I found more satisfying.

Why not take a pass on Still in Love?

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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