If the finest romance stories smolder with a slow burn, allowing the audience to really come to care about the characters involved before bursting into hot, sensual flames, LOVE IS NEVER LOST by Katy Regnery ranks right up there with the best of them. Alternating character perspectives, while following the journey of hero and heroine Katrina and Rip from high school onwards, readers initially get to know them as their childhood camaraderie sours through their teenaged years. Motherless Trina grows plump and stylistically-challenged, while Rip becomes an all around popular stud with the prettiest-lass-in-school for a girlfriend. Though the world surely doesn’t need another novel extolling the perks and pitfalls of blonde cheerleaders and insensitive football jocks, Regnery mostly manages to rescue the story from such stereotypes by the inclusion of Trina’s Indian best-friend/fellow smart girl/outcast, Parvati Singh. The book also provides some measure of satisfaction for those who may not have been fashionable teens themselves, as they watch Trina and Parvati grow up to become beautiful, sought-after career women.
Another original feature that tempers the somewhat typical typecasting is the fairytale-retelling nature of this particular novel. For Rip is actually Ripley Van Winkle who in his Senior Year mistakenly dives off a cliff into rocks and is in a coma for the next twenty years. For readers, this comes infuriatingly right as he and Trina are finally individually coming to terms with the fact that, despite their differing stations in high school life, they may actually have genuine feelings of love for each other…but it’s infuriating in a good, slow-burn, effective foreplay kind of way. However, the Rip Van Winkle element as a plot construct is also regrettably not without problems. Though the author makes a point of opening the book with the disclaimer that this is not intended to be realistic or literary fiction and thus readers should ignore any gapingly wide plausibility issues regarding Rip’s eventual coma awakening and recovery from medical issues, here’s the problem: the story does not read like a brief, magical, rules-of-logic-need-not-apply-fairytale in any way but this one. Indeed, the book reads exactly as if it is a highly detailed, pretty realistic piece of full-length fiction in most ways except regarding Rip’s recovery. (After two decades in a coma, four months later he’s maneuvering himself in and out of a wheelchair by himself, going for picnics in public parks with Trina and her daughter, offering to help babysit, etc). This sadly robs the tale of its believability level overall, pulling readers out of what is otherwise a lovely, well-paced romantic journey.
Katy Regnery’s LOVE IS NEVER LOST is a sweet, romantic slow-burn page-turner featuring an interesting fairytale twist.
~C.S. Holmes for IndieReader