To Love, Honor & Betray
by Penny Jordan
(Mira, $5.99, R) ISBN 1-55166-444-5
Terror strikes the heart of Claudia Wallace when her beloved daughter Tara tells her that she is in love with Ryland Johnson and intends to travel with him from England to the United States as soon as her visa is granted. Why terror indeed? Through flashbacks the causes are revealed in To Love, Honor and Betray, Penny Jordan's latest book.

Claudia has been divorced from her husband Garth for over ten years. In her mid-forties, she divides her time among her business, her charities, and her daughter Tara. Since the divorce, although still a glamorous woman, she lives a celibate but busy life,.

It was the discovery of Garth's infidelity that destroyed the marriage. The old adage of "the greater the love, the greater the hate" is dramatically illustrated by her rancor toward Garth. Scheming in the background is his firm's new hire Estelle who is involved in a relationship that is long on sadomasochism and short on caring. Estelle pops in and out of the book and contributes an interesting part to the resolution of the angst.

Ryland has not accurately portrayed his situation to Tara. Although deeply in love with Tara, he is afraid that she will leave him if she knows he is the heir apparent to a vast empire that brings in millions of dollars and a like number of responsibilities.

The empire is presently in his aunt's control, and Rye has warned Tara that an exhaustive background check on her will be performed by his aunt before she will be welcomed into Boston society. However, there are deep dark secrets in that household as well.

The author has managed to make all of the many characters critical to the plot. In some instances it felt as if the characters were created for the purpose of showcasing deviant sexual practices. But critical they are, and even if the quirky plot requires a reader to suspend disbelief every now and then, it is a story teeming with emotion.

The emotion bleeds through the exhaustive and excessively detailed narrative that is often repetitive. The pacing of the book is very uneven as one constantly drifts from the detailed narrative into very graphic sex scenes. If you can handle a seesaw type of reading experience, you might want to check To Love Honor and Betray out.

--Thea Davis

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