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An Oldie but Goodie: Separate Beds

Separate Beds by LaVyrle Spencer was originally published on October 15, 1986. It is available from Amazon in audio and eBook formats and from other sellers at Amazon in print.

The cover art is not the original cover art or the best, but it’s the only decent image I could find. Don’t judge this book by its cover!

Partial Goodreads description:

In Separate Beds, two attractive, headstrong people meet-and fireworks ensue.

Catherine Anderson and Clay Forrester come from two completely different worlds, but one blind date leaves them forever linked. Clay, a handsome law student, and Catherine, a serious, bookish undergrad, experience an evening they will never forget. Fortified by the beauty of the night, as well as a bottle of wine, they share a night together. A few short months later, Catherine discovers she’s pregnant. They agree to a marriage of convenience, an arrangement that suits them both-until they begin to fall in love.

Moving and deeply affecting, Separate Beds is a celebration of the healing power of love.

It’s that time again for one of my “Oldie but Goodie” book suggestions. Again, it’s not so much of a review as a book recommendation for those readers looking for something not so current but still worth a read.

For Separate Beds I decided to choose something a bit different from my typical favored genre of books, as I vowed not to make the OBG monthly posts the All Stephen King show.

Author LaVyrle Spencer is a writer of romance novels who retired back in 1997. I have only read three of her books, but this was the first, and my favorite. I was very happy to discover it on Amazon available for the Kindle and re-read it and still loved it even though I’m reading it now as a full-fledged adult versus when I first read it as a teenager.

Although categorized as a romance novel, it really reads more like chick-lit, and may have been so dubbed if that term was popular back in the 1980s. The premise may be slightly out of date – marriages of convenience and shotgun weddings are probably not as common today as they were a quarter of a century ago – but the issues the young couple face and the emotions they feel are very real.

The two main characters, Cat and Clay are complete strangers when they meet and she gets pregnant. They make the difficult choice to keep the baby and get married. But trying to mesh their two worlds, along with the fact that they hardly know each other, aren’t sure if they even like each other, and the circumstances in which they met weren’t an ideal start to a relationship, is a nearly impossible feat.

As is typical with this type of book, there will be a lot more lows than highs for the characters, the characters will sadden, upset and frustrate you, but in the end the only question is whether they will be able to persevere given the odds stacked against them.

Separate Beds has all the drama and angst of a romance novel without an over-the-top or unrealistic setting. There are no mansions (though Clay is wealthy), there are no knights, white horses, trips to the South of France. There are no oiled chests, and no one is fed grapes while being fanned with a palm frond. (Not that any of those things are bad, just not realistic in a story based on teen pregnancy.)

I have read this book five times so far, and may read it again someday. It actually reminded me a lot of a much older book called Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones written by author Ann Head with the same premise, set in a time where unwed mothers were unheard of.

That too was about unplanned teen pregnancy by a couple who barely knew each other, were from different economic backgrounds and had a very insecure female main character. Although that story would not have been considered a romance novel, more a mix between cautionary tale and love story and was considered a children’s book.

It was re-printed so is available at Amazon and it’s a great comparison read between what was considered acceptable in the 1960s and what was the norm almost twenty years later in the 1980s. Now almost a half-century later, it would be interesting to read a book with a similar theme.

Separate Beds is still a wonderful story and I would definitely recommend it for someone looking for a story about heartbreak, love, with a pinch of reality. (Although mother’s of teenagers may want to take a pass, especially if reading is supposed to be an escape.)

I’m not sure what ages this book is appropriate for, although I read it as a young teen and didn’t find it too mature.

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