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Posted March 9, 2011
Timeless love is ethereally portrayed in Barrett's powerful novel set in medias res the Middle Eastern wars. The way Kate and Efrem fall in love is romantic -- they fall in love without even once seeing each others' faces. Sighhh :) The only problem? Efrem's sort of married. Not sort of. Still. He swears he is on his way to a divorce, but Kate won't have it.
And yet...they hook up before separating. This was the first thing that irked me about the story. Kate seems really distant when she finds out Efrem is married. She keeps repeating that she doesn't want to be the cause of a divorce. But she still has sex with him. A few conflicting emotions there, but I let it slide.
Then Efrem goes back to his wife only to discover -- she's knocked up! Wistfully, he decides to stay with his wife, and Kate goes back to her life feeling nothing but pity for herself.
Fast forward a couple years. Kate and Efrem meet again. He's divorced, but this time she's in a committed relationship. Perfect timing, huh?
Fast forward a few more years. Kate's old flame has passed away, Efrem's still divorced...now they can finally be together and be happily forever after, right? Nahh. Efrem isn't the "same" anymore. Kate's curt change in preference seems uncharacteristic. Years later, finally reunited, the couple embrace. Efrem is a man she has secretly loved and longed for during the twenty-some years after she met him. But all of sudden she falls out of love with him because his kiss isn't the same (as it was more than twenty years ago). Shrug. Only happens in romantic suspense, folks.
The incident of her teenage pregnancy (the result of a date rape when she was sixteen -- another fascinating but abrupt twist to the story) is brought up rather suddenly also. I wish I would have been given some sort of warning, like foreshadowing of Kate's loss or something. I was able to tell she had trust issues because of the difficulty she had in accepting Efrem as someone she truly loved, but I had no idea it might be because of her illegitimate child.
Either way, it shakes up the plot a lot. In her early forties, the search for her son (who was put up for adoption when he was born) is now her top priority -- one thing I could seriously sympathize with. Eventually, she finds him, alive but not well. They reunite, but it is up to the reader's imagination to determine exactly when she tell him that she is his birth mother.
I personally thought Not Without You was really slow-moving, but it was drawn out for twenty years, keep in mind. The plot was very intriguing, I'll admit. My friend saw me with the book on the bus and she read the blurb and told me she was hooked. It was a great story, but the writing style was rather bland. When I read a good novel, I either hate or love the characters. Thankfully I didn't hate Kate and Efrem, but I couldn't really find solace or admiration in them either.
Rating: 6 out of 10 hearts!
Posted January 5, 2011
In 1991 news correspondent Kate Groen covers the Persian Gulf War. She loves her work, but is frightened when she is taken prisoner. Her spirits soar upon meeting prisoner of war US Army Lieutenant Efrem Chaudoir. They fall in love.
When they are freed, Efrem begins his plan to divorce his current wife Jackie who also wanted to end their marriage. He wants to be single so he and Kate can marry. However, his wife's pregnancy keeps him married to a woman he does not love. Meanwhile in DC before she covers Kosovo, Kate meets kindhearted Gordon May who helps her move pass her lost love. Over the ensuing years, Kate and Efrem meet in various international hotspots like 1999 Kosovo and 2007 Afghanistan, but never seem to come together permanently even as their feeling for one another remains strong.
The star-crossed romance takes a back seat to the epic look at two decades of world events though the eyes of an army career officer and a journalist. Ironically both Kate and Efrem are a delightful pair when overseas at a hot spot. On the other hand when at home each comes across childishly resentful loathing their sacrifice for someone else though why they sacrificed never quite gels; for instance Jackie wanted a divorce too but gave up her desires for their child and besides by 1990s divorce even with kids involved had become commonplace. Still readers will enjoy Not Without You for its grand scale look at the crisis zones during the previous three Administrations.