Saturday, August 23, 2014

LaVyrle Spencer - Separate Beds

They became husband and name only
The wedding of Clay Forrester and Catherine Anderson was the social event of the season. It seemed like a page out of a fairy tale. But everything about it -- from the formal vows to the magnificent reception -- was a lie, Catherine had reluctantly agreed to Clay's "marriage of convenience"...and the only thing that could threaten their arrangement was the unexpected arrival of love.

Comment: I've had this book to read for quite a while in my TBR. Since I've read two other books by the author and loved them, I was very curious about how I'd find this new book. 

This is Catherine and Clay's story. After a one night stand, Catherine got pregnant and her father finds out and wants her to marry Clay for his money. Catherine, however, is proud and doesn't want to use Clay or his parents or their money like that and she makes plans to deal with her new condition. But Clay finds out where she is and they start to talk and make an agreement that will help Catherine in the future, although she still thinks that is to cheat Clay's parents and she often feels like a fraud. Catherine and Clay marry and for a while their life seems to go well, except when they are alone. Things take a bad turn at some point and it will take their new baby to make Catherine realize she owns her own life and maybe Clay has a place too...

Well, this story is a bit more complex than any blurb can show, mostly because both main characters have flaws and they don't communicate well nor do they try to put themselves in the other position.
The plot may seem old fashioned, but it was written in the late 80s, so...the beauty of this author's writing, though, is how serious and reasonable (for the most part) the character's thoughts and reactions are to what surrounds them. Nowadays, situations couldn't be believed to still be like this, but the truth is, people have the tendency to not think their actions and consequences that much. I think this story shows that quite well.

I also think the protagonists' actions show a lot of their personalities. Clay is honest and never intended to cause problems but he is used to things usually easy coming to him and in a way, I thought this showed in some of his actions towards Catherine's reluctance to accept help and money and later on, in his own behavior when things were rough. Catherine herself also showed a difficult personality because although I understood her position throughout all th book, in the end her change was harder to accept because she was so contrary most of the time.

You see, the whole story happens based on the idea Clay and Catherine don't love each other and they are going to be parents, but both had a life before this happened to them. Clay, in particular, had a girlfriend - they had a fight when he and Catherine got together - and plans to work for his father. Catherine wanted to finish school to get away from her father. There is more hidden depths to all this, but the overall idea is, they had to deal with pregnancy and how that affects their lives and of those closer to them. Eventually things reach a certain point where we believe the romance will follow a pattern interesting enough to fulfill any HEA need. But there's one thing that doesn't seem to go that well, which is the way Catherine sees herself and the marriage. I understand her reasons and in real life I'd probably defend her and her actions, but in a romance I kind of wanted her to realize sooner she could fight for Clay and a better marriage.
Her state of mind about the whole thing is very set in stone which is why her change in the end - really, practically the end of the book - seems so out of there, because suddenly she is a confidant woman wanting to have love and a real marriage to her husband after sending him away.
Clay also has a lot to deal with and I was actually on his side since the marriage because he was trying to do his best. Yes they weren't in love but I believed they would reach that point eventually. But after the biggest argument and Clay leaves, does he brood, does he sulk, does he complain, does he go to his parents house to have someone feeling sorry for himself and maybe find courage to set things right, does he even find a house of his own?? Nope, he goes back to the ex (no, this isn't a spoiler because it's hinted all the time, I just didn't think he actually would do it).... really....

At this point the romance felt doomed for me. Then there's the change in Catherine and things improve and Clay realizes his mistakes and the HEA happens.
But I thought this wasn't the most romantic thing ever. If this was labeled contemporary fiction, I wouldn't feel so surprised, but considering this is a romance by a novelist known for the romance in her stories, I expected more.

Nevertheless, this wasn't a bad book, it just had situations in it I thought weren't the most romantic ones. Understandable, important yes. Some I would defend and root for in another circumstances. But here I kind of hoped for a different way of solving everything...anyway, the author's writing and the way the story is told are flawless and that counts for something too.
Grade: 7/10

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