Flashback Friday Book Reviews highlight the love stories that have always inspired me—even before I decided to become a romance writer.
The Promise by Daneille Steel
While I’m sure I was born with the hopeless romantic gene, this is the book that activated it. Before I started trading Harlequins with my friend Francie in high school, before Lifetime Television for Women, there was The Promise.
In order for me to fully indulge in the nostalgia of reading again and reviewing it, I ordered a print copy. I didn’t want to read this one on my Kindle. The one I got was unintentionally the new Dell edition, based on the screenplay, so I can’t be sure that it was exactly the same as the first 1978 edition. Regardless, the story tugged at the same heart strings. And I did recall the movie starring Kathleen Quinlan and Stephen Collins (that was back when they were casting actor who actually looked like the characters as described in the book, as opposed to casting whoever is the hot ticket at the moment, as evidenced by the stunt casting of Eddie Cibrian and LeAnn Rimes in Nora Roberts’ Northern Lights. I mean, did they READ the book at all? Rimes is nothing like Meg Galligan! I’m sure fans of Nora Roberts were outraged…but that’s a different blog post).
What I loved best about this book was the seemingly insurmountable odds that this couple, Michael and Nancy, have to face in order to be together. First, there was Michael’s mother, who would stop at nothing to prevent her son from marrying Nancy. And I do mean nothing. I remember thinking I’d never, until that time, read about someone so mean, devious, and heartless, a least in a love story. She made a great villain. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but suffice it to say that it was heartbreaking watching Michael and Nancy endure their separation, cast on them by fate, with a strong push from Mommy dearest.
After I’d started to read it again after all these years, I got excited and told my husband about it. He started asking me all these questions, and I just couldn’t remember what had happened in the book. I kept saying “I don’t remember, I haven’t gotten to that part yet.” But as I turned the pages, it all came rushing back to me.
The other thing I loved about this book was the ending. [SPOILER ALERT: THEY END UP TOGETHER] There are happy endings, and then there are endings that are simply out of this world. Something about the way Steel wrote their reunion, even down to the dialogue, was just wonderful. Not many books since then have moved me to tears.
So, if it’s been awhile since you read this, or if, God forbid, you’ve never read it at all, give it a whirl. And the whole Stephen Collins scandal aside, the movie is really good too. Yes, the language is markedly from another decade, and Steel never was heavy-handed on the love scenes. But the story itself stands the test of time, and it’s a tale of love overcoming the odds that you won’t be disappointed in—I promise.