With early Elizabeth Lowell, it’s a hit or miss proposition. The many series romances I’ve read by her that were written in the 1980’s are all replete with “Lowell-speak,” that type of purple prose that goes way over the top, as well as the heightened sensuality that, if it were real life, would cause the characters to spontaneously combust. Her writing seeks to grab both the guts of readers’ emotions, and, to be perfectly honest, their crotches as well. Lowell is a talented enough writer that she nearly always succeeds at the latter, but she doesn’t always succeed with the former. It is no mean feat for an author to engage my lust, because if she fails to arouse my interest in her characters and their stories, she won’t arouse my baser instincts. Remember Summer will not fully grab your emotions; it’s just too over the top.
This book is a full-length re-write of a series romance, which is part and parcel of Remember Summer‘s flaws. A series romance is short – it has to immediately draw the reader in with intensity. Because of its brevity, the emotions of its characters, as well as the emotions of its readers, must be heightened to a level that is difficult to sustain in a full-length book. What works in 220 pages often becomes overblown and exhausting in a full-length read. While Remember Summer might have worked in its original, abbreviated version, it doesn’t work here or now.
Raine Smith is about to compete in the three-day equestrian event in the 1984 Summer Olympics. Cord Elliott is assigned to guard Raine and her family – her father is a highly placed government operative on the hit list of a number of terrorists. They meet when they are both checking the lay of the land and he fears she may in fact be working for the bad guys. Within minutes of tackling her, he discovers who she is, but doesn’t reveal his mission. He discovers she’s more attractive than he’d thought. He discovers he’s drawn to her while she discovers an attraction to a man unlike any other she’s known.
Raine hates the world her father works in – it’s kept him from his wife and children. While she’s grown up as a child of privilege, she’s always been an outsider. Riding horses has been her only refuge, the only place she’s excelled, the only place she’s felt loved and wanted. What she doesn’t like or trust are men like her father, and Cord is cut from the same cloth.
Cord, with his “Shaman’s voice,” powerful body, intelligence, and steely glint, is the best there is at his job. He’s been cold for a long time now, and Raine makes him warm – inside and out. Though she doesn’t trust him, his lure is too strong for her to resist. While she misinterprets many of his actions and comments, she can’t help her emotional and physical response to his sheer strength and “horse-whisperer” ways.
Her resistence and his assignment pull them apart while simultaneously bringing them together. Her insecurities and his profession feed her resistance. Raine doesn’t fully believe some of what Cord reveals about himself and her place in his life, which, inevitably lead to more conflict for the couple while the clock is racing on the Olympics. Will the terrorist known as Barracuda kill Raine or her father or can he be stopped in time? Will Raine bring home the gold? Will Cord and his “sweet rider” find the peace and happiness they both yearn for? Will the reader care if they do?
Most likely, the answer is. . .sort of yes, sort of no. It’s hard not to get caught up in some way in Raine and Cord’s romance. But Lowell goes so far over the top in terms of dialogue, descriptions, and the like, that many passages meant to be intense are corny instead. If we are to believe Lowell, Cord, the hard-hearted secret operative, once he’s met Raine, is Alan Alda on the inside. If we are to believe Lowell, Cord’s voice alone could bring a woman to orgasm. I don’t know about you, but I had a tough time believing.