How Still My Love by Diane Marina is the type of dramatic romance that took me to the highest highs and the lowest lows. The book goes beyond the magic and sparkle of many romances to show us the possible realities of love over the long haul. Through wonderful character development this story touched me on many levels and I was a raw nerve while I was reading it. I cried tears of joy and tears of sorrow.
Beth Anders is very content with her successful career and her single status. Why would she want to risk a broken heart when she is just fine on her own? Being alone means she never has to deal with parents who have shunned her for being gay or abusive ex-girlfriends. Yep, being alone is just perfect until sexy and vibrant Toni Vincent enters her life via a blind date. Toni quickly captures Beth’s heart and the two of them plan a future together.
Toni wants things that Beth is reticent to give. When Beth learns that her happily-ever-after may not be the same as what Toni wants, fate steps in and threatens their perfect life. When an interested and persistent woman shows up, chaos erupts.
Will Beth be able to repair things before it’s too late or has she lost the love of her life?
Both Beth and Toni are the type of characters I enjoy due to their familiarity. They are completely relatable in the good times and the bad. They are smart, funny, sexy, and a perfect match. Their shared pain over past relationships is something that bonds them. Beth and Toni are very tender and considerate with each other.
Beth is very dedicated to her design business but, when conflict begins to threaten their relationship, she focuses her energy on her work and not on the issues at hand. Beth deals with conflict and worry by concentrating on outside things rather than looking within to examine the root causes of her problems. When things spin out of control she struggles to accept Toni’s decisions. She gets mired down in self-pity, but reaches a point where she realizes that if she wants Toni in her future she has to pull herself together. Did I love Beth’s character despite her flaws? Yes!
Toni is lovely, across the board. She is optimistic, has a great sense of humor, and is a dedicated teacher. She is focused on what she wants out of life. At a certain point, Toni’s focus turns into tunnel vision and Beth becomes a passive spectator. It was refreshing to see her look at the mistakes she made in the relationship and acknowledge her part in them rather than just play the woman scorned.
The Writing Style
Marina wrote this in the first person from Beth’s point of view. I normally don’t care for first person because I feel like I don’t get enough information about the other main character. In this case it worked wonderfully. This is Beth’s tale to tell. Her actions drive the plot and part of her journey is looking at these events and accepting the consequences of her actions.
I loved that this book took place over the span on six years. Contemporary romances often happen at a whirlwind pace. The main characters meet, fall in love, split up, make up, and rent their U-haul over the course of six months or less. Marina created a romance that shows how relationships grow and change over time. We get to see all the big, dramatic events, but we also get to see the sweetest moments of domesticity. Sometimes seeing two women cooking dinner together or having coffee in the morning is as endearing as any grand, sweeping, romantic gesture.
Like I said at the beginning of this review, this book gave me all sorts of feels. Even with its dramatic nature, Marina manages to include a lot of humor in the story and I always enjoy it when a book puts a goofy smile on my face. Any book, regardless of genre, that can get me talking out loud to the characters, telling them what they SHOULD be doing, and crying right along with them goes straight to my favorite’s list.
Spoiler alert: I know that for some readers, a plot that involves cheating is a hard, “No”. If that’s the case, then this book isn’t for you. In this instance, it wasn’t an issue for me as it is central to the story arc of each character and essential for Beth and Toni to find their happily-ever-after.
If you can’t tell that I adored this book, then I haven’t done my job very well. I’m always looking for romances where the conflicts aren’t silly misunderstandings that could easily be avoided with a little common sense. I like it when things get messy because it just makes me cheer for the main characters even more. Beth and Toni are forced to work hard for their happily-ever-after. By the end of the novel, I just wanted to gather up all the characters for a big, group hug.
Excerpt from How Still My Love by Diane Marina
“Tell me everything you know about me so far.”
Toni sat up straighter, apparently taking my challenge seriously. She ticked items off on her fingers as she spoke. “Hmm, okay well, you’re…around my age, right?”
I nodded. Toni’s age was one detail Laurel had shared with me.
“You drive a convertible,” she continued, tapping her second finger. “A very cool convertible that would make my dad fall in love with you.”
“Well, now you’re cheating. You rode in my car, so that wasn’t hard to figure out,” I teased.
“Okay, I’ll give you that one. Hmm, what else? All you’ve ever wanted to do with your life is to be an artist –“
“Nope? What did I miss?” She seemed to be enjoying the game.
“I wanted to do something besides design, but it was out of my reach.” I frowned dramatically to underscore my feigned unhappiness.
“I can’t imagine anything being out of your reach. What was it?”
I could tell she was amused. “Don’t laugh,” I implored.
She nodded solemnly.
“When I was in college, there was something I wanted desperately. I…I wanted to…marry Stevie Nicks. Honestly! Don’t laugh, you promised.”
Despite her vow, Toni was giggling helplessly. “You’re not serious?” she said between spurts of laughter.
“Yes, I’m serious. I fell for her and decided that I would give up my career entirely if I had a chance with her. I still might, I don’t know. Maybe she’d like my car too.”
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9780692229248
- Publisher: Aspen Palms Press
Diane Marina Online
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