Remember When by Judith McNaught
Publication Date: October 1st 1997
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Remember When is one of Judith McNaught's most enchanting New York Times bestsellers, "a tender novel celebrating the power of love" (The Literary Times).
Alone on a moonlit balcony at Houston's White Orchid Charity Ball, Diana Foster courageously upheld the sparkling image of her family's Beautiful Living magazine. Recently jilted by her fiancé for an Italian heiress -- an insult delivered via a sleazy tabloid -- Diana was now very publicly unengaged, and surrounded by humiliating rumors. So why was billionaire Cole Harrison closing in on her with two crystal flutes and a bottle of champagne?
The former stableboy had received an ultimatum from his uncle: bring home a wife -- soon -- or lose his share of a booming multinational business. Coolly analytical and arrestingly attractive, Cole knew what he wanted in a bride, and Diana Foster -- rich, beautiful, principled -- fit the role perfectly. But while a long, slow kiss sealed the bargain that solved both their dilemmas, neither imagined the extraordinary journey that would begin on that unforgettable night. . . .
One of the things Judith McNaught does better than anyone is write drama. Her novels are filled with conflicts. The h/h are always struggling with each other, outside influences and themselves. And just when you think all is well and things are resolved and they’re going to live happily ever after, some new drama occurs and BAM, they’re back at square one. Remember When is one of the few McNaught novels where the drama is at a minimum and the h/h work together.
Unfortunately, I think the love story here gets buried under a lot of technical jargon and too much back story. The first 7 or so chapters focuses on when Cole and Diana first met..as teenagers. Cole was a poor college student who was working in the stable of a wealthy family to support himself. Diana was friends with the stable owner’s daughter and met Cole that way. They became friends and ended up spending quite a bit of time together. But Diana – along with all her friends and then some – had a major crush on Cole. They (she and her friends) used to make bets about who would be the first to kiss him. Although it was cute to read about their past together, I feel it went on for too long. I’d rather have learned about it during the present, or shortened the amount of time JM spent on the past. Although some of what happened then is necessary to the story in present day, I think a few chapters at most would have been enough.
The other problem is the outside conflict Cole and Diana have to face takes center stage here. Diana and Cole and their relationship play second fiddle. Diana’s company is suffering because she’s just been dumped by her fiance for a 19 year old bimbo. Cole’s public image is crap and his uncle decides to blackmail him into getting married and providing grandchildren. He proposes to Diana, thinking they can help each other out, but things get complicated when he realizes he cares for her and vice verse. The problem is that Cole has made a lot of enemies and now he’s under investigation by SEC for having inside information on trades (or something..I’m blanking out right now, sorry!).
McNaught spends a lot of time on the business aspects – both Diana and Cole’s. While I found it interesting, I feel it took away from their relationship too much. I would have liked to see more page time w/ just them. Still, I love that they stuck by each other. Once they committed to each other, that was it. Fabulous stuff. I also loved seeing Cole lighten up with Diana’s help. One of my favorite parts of the book is when she gives him a new tie and he keeps bringing it up. It was cute.
Overall the relationship aspects of the story are wonderful, but overshadowed. I’d recommend it just for Diana and Cole.
H/H: 4.5 out of 5
The rest: 3.5 out of 5