Lightning That Lingers

By Laura London, aka Sharon and Tom Curtis, 1983, Contemporary
(Loveswept #25, reissued as Silver Signature Edition in 1991)

When I read this touchingly funny, passionately sexy book as one of the early (#25) Loveswepts, I knew immediately that it was probably the best, the most definitive romance novel - particularly "category" romance - that I'd ever find.

Lightning was such an outstanding book that it made it hard to go back and reread it in order to review it as an "All-Time Favorite Romance." Because I knew that few books ever stand the test of time, particularly in romance, which relies on an interpretation of emotion that is often relevant to only that era. Eighties highwaymen and languishing beauties somehow don't do very well in the '90's; plot lines are often silly and out of date.

But not the still-unique story of Tom and Sharon Curtis's Lightning That Lingers. How can you forget the most physically beautiful man in romance literature, the male stripper and fallen angel/aristocrat, Philip Brooks? Whose silky blond hair flails entincingly as the Cougar Club's star attraction mesmerizes hundreds of women in the smoky glare of a spotlight while he takes it off - all off! And how about Jennifer Hamilton, the excruciatingly shy librarian, who is taken to the club in an office party outing and is so overcome by beautiful Philip the stripper, that she sinks down in her chair and covers her face with a napkin? Naturally Philip is fascinated by the only woman he's ever encountered who won't - can't - bring herself to look at him?

If Philip is dazzlingly gorgeous, Jennifer has her own beauty that every reader can identify with. Philip is taken with her soft brown hair in a Dorothy Hamill haircut, "her bashful brown eyes, the dusty rose lips which had fallen slightly open over straight white teeth, the front one slightly chipped." Soiled, cynical Philip and innocent, stubborn Jennifer are a perfect couple; neither lacks wit, and the dialogue is fast, sweet and funny.

What we learn, though, when Philip takes Jennifer to his family's rundown old mansion, is that Philip has a degree as an environmental biologist, acquired before his parents' death and the collapse of the family fortune. He hasn't given up his interest: he's currently playing host to two baby owls that almost steal the story.

Against the background of the elaborate, almost-abandoned old mansion, the frozen midwestern winter like a crystal fairyland about them, the tender and passionate love story unfolds. Giving in to Philip's ardent demands, Jennifer comes to see him but wrecks her car in the icy driveway and almost freezes to death. In antique clothes taken from the Brooks family attic, Philip teaches Jennifer to waltz. And to love.

Philip has no intention of giving up his job as a stripper, he needs the money. But now he finds it hard to reconcile that world of self-inflicted sleaze with his newfound love with Jennifer.

However, like every classic romance story, there is a happy ending for Philip and Jennifer and even for the two baby owls. The epilogue, the few final pages, finish this unforgettable story more than satisfactorily.

It's too bad someone hasn't made a film of this wonderful story. It's far better entertainment than anything Hollywood or television has produced in decades. And Tom and Sharon Curtis (Laura London), absent from the publishing scene far too long, owe us many more superbly-written, endearing, funny, totally enchanting, unforgettably love stories.

-- Katherine Deauxville aka Maggie Davis

Nancy Grover (ngrover@siue.edu):
Just wanted to express my wholehearted agreement with Katherine Deauxville's (aka Maggie Davis) review of Lightning That Lingers by Sharon and Tom Curtis. An excellent story by all standards, in my opinion. I am a secretary in a university biology office, and one of the female professors also read it when it came out - she also approved of it! I would love to see more work from Sharon and Tom Curtis of this calibre.

Peggy (booklady@nu-world.com):
I enjoyed reading a review on one of my all time favorite books, Lightning that Lingers. It has been a while since I've read it though I have kept a copy in my library. After reading the review I realized its time to reread it again. I could identify with the shy librarian at the strip joint. I would probably only go under protest too, and hide my head if I could. I remember one of the classic scenes when his pet owl starts parading around his bedroom with Jennifer's underwear on his head. A very origonal and heart melting story!

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Katherine Deauxville is aka Maggie Davis aka Maggie Daniels

As Maggie Daniels she wrote the 1994 CBS Sunday Night Movie A Christmas Romance.

Her web page address is: http://members.aol.com/madav1/mdavis.html

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