Chance of a Lifetime
by Vivian Vaughan
Zebra, $4.99, PG-13 (ISBN 0-8217-6149-8)
**
Although Chance of a Lifetime has the makings of a good tale of forbidden love, the heroine and her problems with her mother sidetrack the romance. Also, the story line is sometimes difficult to understand.

Living in Fort Davis, Texas in 1868 has brought nineteen-year-old Sabrina Bolton a life filled with guilt. When she was five years old, Sabrina watched her twin sister die under the wheel of a wagon. Her mother was never the same after the accident, and Sabrina and her father have spent the past fourteen years trying to make Martha Bolton happy.

Sabrina thinks she has finally found the key to her mother's happiness in the form of one Captain Lon Jasper, an up-and-coming young soldier who is courting Sabrina. According to her mother, Lon is the chance of a lifetime for Sabrina and she must do everything she can to encourage his suit.

Problem is that Sabrina doesn't feel anything for the handsome captain; his kisses don't give her butterflies. Sabrina finally understands what butterflies are after she meets an Apache warrior named Tremayne.

Tremayne was raised as an Apache after his pioneer parents were murdered; he loved and married an Apache woman who was killed by soldiers. Tremayne and his daughter hate the soldiers and settlers who have taken so much from their people.

However, for the sake of his child, Tremayne is willing to try and negotiate some kind of peace with the U.S. Army. Tremayne is attracted to Sabrina but knows that any kind of relationship between the daughter of a soldier and an Apache is forbidden. Sabrina could lose her reputation just by being seen one too many times in his company.

Although she thinks of herself as a quiet, biddable person, Sabrina doesn't always do what is expected of her. She lends her time to the doctor at the fort, a very unladylike activity of which neither Jasper or her mother approve. And when Tremayne comes to her seeking help for his desperately ill daughter, she rides away with him.

Chance of a Lifetime has some nice elements. It's realistic; the historical period is interesting and used very nicely to set the tone for a tale of forbidden love. The ending is anything but predictable, which I like, but I had problems understanding a good deal of the story line.

From the first chapter, it is obvious that the Boltons are a dysfunctional family. A few years of comfort after the loss of a child would be understandable, but fourteen years of continuous catering to Martha Bolton is enabling not comfort.

Sabrina never seems like the wimpy, guilt-ridden creature she's supposed to be, so why she spends fourteen years of her life martyring herself to a mother she clearly resents and dislikes, is a mystery to me. Why she loves her father is also a mystery. She calls him her strong "hero" despite the fact that he's allowed his wife who seems pushy and ill-bred, rather than fragile to make everyone unhappy, especially Sabrina.

Also, I couldn't understand how Tremayne could ever encourage Sabrina to marry Lon Jasper. Tremayne knows or suspects that Captain Jasper is a monster hiding in a soldier's uniform, yet he tells Sabrina, more than once, that she would be better off marrying Jasper.

Finally, the story line is slowed down considerably by Sabrina's introspective nature; put simply, she thinks too much. Not that there is anything wrong with a little introspection. I want to know what makes a character tick; I also want the character to develop at a reasonable pace. Sabrina's ongoing psychoanalysis of herself is a clear case of arrested development; it takes up too much time and space in this romance.

--Judith Flavell


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