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The Marriage Bed    by Judith Arnold order for
Marriage Bed
by Judith Arnold
Order:  USA  Can
Harlequin, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton

Joelle and Bobby DiFranco are in their sixties, having been married for several decades. They have a daughter and two sons, who now have children of their own. One day Joelle receives a surprise visit from her high school boyfriend, Drew Foster. The last time she saw him she had barely graduated from high school and was pregnant. Drew didn't want anything to do with the baby and sent Joelle money to have an abortion. However, Joelle wanted the baby.

Now Drew is back in the picture. His only son is dying of cancer, and the only hope of saving Adam's life is to find a bone marrow donor. So far, no match has been found, but a sibling would be a possible donor. Drew tracked down Joelle and discovered she never did have the abortion. Now he's in town to contact Claudia, Joelle and Drew's daughter. Unfortunately, Claudia thinks her biological father is Bobby. Drew's appearance tears the family apart, and Joelle isn't sure her marriage can withstand the resulting turmoil.

The story alternates between past and present. Joelle and Bobby's relationship is described from its beginning as ten-year-old best friends, continuing to Joelle's unexpected pregnancy and Bobby's offer to marry her, right before he was sent to Vietnam. Joelle and Bobby struggled through their first few years after Bobby's return from the war, and saw the births of their two sons. Through it all, Bobby had not once told Joelle that he loved her (this becomes one of the novel's themes). Joelle thinks that Bobby never really loved her, and only married to help her.

I enjoyed The Marriage Bed more than previous books in the Everlasting Love series. However, I expected a bit more love and romance than the story held. Though I didnít feel any sympathy for the characters, I did enjoy the plot and was absorbed until the end.

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