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Desert Isle Keeper

Love on Her Terms

Jennifer Lohmann

Do you avoid category romances, thinking they’re all about billionaires or sheiks? And if you learn the heroine of a category romance has a “big secret” do you roll your eyes, convinced it’s a secret baby? Then you haven’t read Jennifer Lohmann. Love on her Terms features a very real, complicated hero and heroine dealing with issues that have absolutely nothing to do with secret babies. I found myself surprised at many points, but mostly, I was completely captivated. When I finished I sighed, and then was sad; I want more of this couple, want to know what’s going to happen next in their lives. Please, Ms. Lohman, don’t let this be the last time I ever read about Levi and Mina!

I loved the opening sequence as Levi Pardo watches a new neighbor move in next door. We learn a lot about this unknown woman through Levi’s eyes. She looks ridiculously young to him, and despite her small stature, her energy almost overwhelms him. We also learn a lot about Levi as he continues to watch her out his window over the next few weeks. A widower, he continues to read both his and his wife’s horoscope. Levi is clearly irritated by his new neighbor, but can’t look away. And aside from work and some interactions with his sister and her family, he seems to be alone.

The first meeting between Mina Clements and Levi doesn’t go well. Mina likes to get to know people, and goes over to introduce herself to her next door neighbor. Levi is anything but welcoming – in fact, he barely says anything. Mina tells Levi she moved to Missoula to teach Russian, and adds that she also writes graphic novels. Levi thinks she’s excessively cheery and doesn’t want anything to do with her. He knows she felt foolish because he said almost nothing but he doesn’t care. Levi decides to look up her graphic novels online and is overwhelmed; rather than cheery and bright they’re dark and intriguing, and he wants to get to know more about her.

Almost in spite of himself, Levi begins to help Mina in little ways around her property. They’re intrigued by each other, but cautious. While Mina likes to make friends, she is careful to whom and when she reveals her biggest secret, which is that she has HIV.  After she cooks dinner for Levi one night and he leans in to kiss her, she has to tell him the truth. Levi’s immediate reaction? He runs away.

Levi’s reasons for leaving Mina aren’t what we might expect. His wife suffered from depression, spent long periods of time in bed, and eventually committed suicide. He’s known as the kind of guy who sticks long past when he should, and he doesn’t know if he can be with someone again who is slowly dying (his words).

Nothing is simple or clichéd about this book. It’s a lot about the little minefields Levi and Mina encounter as they decide to pursue a relationship, try to make it work, try to make it last. They want to be together but are afraid of getting hurt. Reflecting her fears, Mina at one point thinks that hope is painful, having a way of clenching your heart and holding it hostage.

On the surface, Levi and Mina are an unlikely pairing; they’re completely different. Mina’s a talker and is often bubbly, whereas Levi’s rarely talks. Mina has a PhD and teaches at the University while Levi is a former miner turned construction worker. But through their complex, full development, Ms. Lohmann makes their pairing completely believable. I had numerous OMG moments in the early stages, as more is revealed about their backgrounds.

When I finished I immediately got online to see if I could figure out what Ms. Lohmann is writing next. Will it be set in Missoula, so that we might see Levi and Mina again? Because this is really a couple I’d like to see more of. I absolutely loved this romance, know I will read it again (okay, confession, I’ve already read it twice), and can’t wait for Ms. Lohmann’s next book.

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Book Details

Reviewer :      LinnieGayl


Grade :     A-


Sensuality :      Warm


Book Type :     


Review Tags :     



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11 Comments

  1. Kristen Donnelly August 1, 2016 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    This book sounds EXCELLENT! I have found so many treasures in the Superromance line over the last few years and this one sounds like another. Ordering NOW.

    • Dabney Grinnan August 1, 2016 at 1:38 pm - Reply

      Jennifer is a friend. (I had nothing to do with LinnieGayl’s review.) When she told me last year she was writing an HIV heroine I thought she was heroic and kinda crazy. I’m so impressed she pulled it off! I didn’t want to read the book until after we’d published the review–I’m going to buy it now too!

  2. Caroline Russomanno August 1, 2016 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    I think this book sounds great too, but I wish it hadn’t been introduced in a way that felt derogatory of other categories. I’ve read and loved some delightful billionaire and sheikh books, and while secret babies aren’t my thing, people who love them take enough heat from non-romance readers that they don’t need to hear it from within the community.

    • Dabney Grinnan August 1, 2016 at 7:04 pm - Reply

      I get that and yet…. I’m sort of in that category. So for me, this intro is an encouragement to read a book I probably wouldn’t otherwise.

      • LinnieGayl August 1, 2016 at 7:44 pm - Reply

        And that was exactly my point. There is a huge variety of category romances but far too many people classify them as only about billionaires or sheikhs or having secret baby plots

        • Brie August 2, 2016 at 8:21 am - Reply

          And I think Caroline’s point was that secret babies and billionaires have value too even when they aren’t for you. We can talk about how certain *romance* tropes–because they aren’t exclusive to categories–aren’t for us, without using the same type of generalizations non-romance readers say about the genre. I appreciate the review and just bought the book, but those opening lines were pretty jarring.

  3. Zoe August 1, 2016 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    I’ve been a fan of Ms. Lohmann since her debut book about a blue-haired Polish-American chef, and I can’t wait to read this book. Lovely review!

    That being said, having read the rest of her SuperRomances, and a few others, I don’t think SuperRomances are category romances (even though it is a Harlequin line). To me, the main distinguishing points about category romances are their length (much shorter than a SR), and their trope-heavy, tight-to-the-romance-arc focus. They’re a totally different beast to SRs, and I agree with the other commenter that we don’t need to deride category romances in order to praise the unique and awesome stories that get published as SRs.

    • Dabney Grinnan August 1, 2016 at 9:59 pm - Reply

      Yes! To this day, when I see a woman walk by with gorgeous blue hair, I think of Jennifer’s book!

  4. Rike Horstmann August 2, 2016 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    LinnieGayl, you’ve made me really curious about this book.
    Your review got me thinking … what other romances with a hero or heroine with HIV do I know?
    I thought some, and really did not come up with any. The only fictional person I could come up with was that physiotherapist or nurse at Emergency Room (in the early seasons) who got HIV from a patient. She had a romance in the series, but I recall that she also had a lot of disagreeable experiences before that. She and her husband ended up adopting a child with HIV.
    Can anyone think of other heroes / heroines with HIV?

    • Dabney Grinnan August 2, 2016 at 2:40 pm - Reply

      I can’t think of any which is why I think it’s so amazing Jennifer wrote this.

    • Eggletina August 2, 2016 at 3:34 pm - Reply

      I haven’t read it, but A Crack in Forever was reviewed here. It’s probably a tear jerker rather than a HEA romance, though.

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