The Love Trilogy #1, Loving
Created by Francine Pascal, written by Joanna Campbell
Originally Published: 1985
Caitlin won't wait for him to love herCaitlin. Beautiful. Dazzling. Charming. Rich. And very, very clever. To everyone at her exclusive Virginia boarding school, she seems to have it all. But there is a secret need that haunts her life. A need for love.
Only one boy can make her forget her cold home life, can fulfill her need for love: handsome, sensitive Jed Michaels. Jed, who has already given his heart to another girl.
Still, headstrong Caitlin is determined to win him for herself, one way or another. But then a tragedy occurs, a terrible event that has such far-reaching consequences that not even she can deal with them. Will Caitlin lose Jed forever, or can she find a way out of the horrible ordeal?
The other day I was wandering through the online catalog for the city's public library system and ran across two novels written by Joanna Campbell that I'd never heard of before. These were part of the Caitlin series (three trilogies, the first entitled the "Love Trilogy" including Loving, Love Lost and True Love), which our beloved Joanna Campbell did, in fact, write back before Thoroughbred. So I couldn't help myself. I had to have them. Immediately.
So let's start off. Caitlin Ryan is the most popular junior at Highgate, a prestigious prep school in rural Virginia. Her life is perfect and every girl clamors for her attention, quite willing to be stepped on and used if it means Caitlin might favor her with a glance every so often. The boys are in love with her. Every single freaking one of them. Caitlin likes to call herself an orphan, as she was raised by her grandmother, a mining magnate, who has no love in her cold, withered heart for the girl that killed her daughter in child birth. Not to mention Caitlin's father abandoned her, but that piece of information is too awful for her to tell anyone because it just doesn't fit into the image she's fashioned for herself at Highgate, where Bentleys litter the parking lots and make the occasional "Mercedes look like a Honda."
Jed is the new heartthrob recently arrived from Montana, and Caitlin is quick to pounce. Only in a pathetically desperate, manipulative way that sends Jed packing for Diana, the nearest normal girl who wears all the wrong colors and probably will drive a Honda when she gets her drivers' license. Yes, horror of horrors, Jed falls for the girl attending Highgate on scholarship! It looks like showing off on her horse (Jed pays too much attention to the horse! Damn it!), willfully manufacturing damp eyes and batting her eyelashes (he is impervious to manipulation!), and flirting nonstop just don't do it for Jed.
Completely blindsided by why Jed would pick a mousy, plain, unfashionable girl to shower with his masculine attention, Caitlin backpedals and decides to go after the girl. Because that's the classy thing to do. Inviting everyone to Ryan Acres...or Estate...or whatever the hell her grandmother's lavish countryside manor is called, Caitlin first tries to knock Diana out of the loop by casually forgetting to invite her. Then Jed's cousin invites her anyway. Caitlin essentially decrees that fine, she will allow Diana to attend her party because she'll have the chance to upstage her. That pathetic, unspoiled, non-rich, average girl will cower in the face of her wealth and general superiority! Unfortunately that backfires in her face also, and Jed just gets closer to Diana. It appears Jed is unaffected by black leather pants and pissy attitude!
Then all hell breaks loose. Caitlin's big event -- a male beauty contest -- needs a pitchfork. Like, now. Despite the fact that they're only going through a rehearsal, they absolutely have to have this flipping pitchfork. So Caitlin breaks into a shed in the back of one of the faculty member's houses, takes the pitchfork, and stalks back to the rehearsal, fuming the entire way because Diana has Jed! Damn that unsophisticated bitch! Then before we know it an ambulance is called. As it turns out, the faculty member's kid got into the unlocked shed and started wolfing down poison, as eight-year-olds are so wont to do, and falls into a coma. Horrors! The big twist? Diana was babysitting the kid! Shock! And Diana can't handle it. She literally goes into shock and then the kid's parents arrive and pretty much spit in Diana's face and then Diana's parents come along and flip out about how they never should have thrown her in with all these spoiled rich kids and take her away. Despite Jed trying to keep Diana away from her parents because her mother will "drive her right over the edge." Right over the edge and into insanity!
So, like, weeks later Caitlin is eating her breakfast prepared by her maids and reads the newspaper. She finds out that the kid was poisoned! Discovering that it was she who left the shed unlocked, Caitlin flips out and has herself a good chaotic ride on her grandmother's craziest horse. A la Brad Townsend with Nightengale and Caroline Griffen with a car. I suppose this is the only way Joanna's characters handle personal tragedy. So Caitlin covers her manic behavior with the fact that everyone forgot her birthday. (You see, Caitlin's busy feeling sorry for herself because Jed and her grandmother didn't come to her male beauty contest...those self-absorbed assholes. How dare they hurt Caitlin's feelings!)
Wracked by guilt, Caitlin avoids Jed for weeks. Jed, in turn, decides to come on to her. They start to go out. Caitlin decides she won't tell anyone about her unlocking the shack because she figures Diana will get over it and be happy in her new school. Three months pass. She tells Jed all about her horrible home life (Days alone in a mansion with servants, but no love...poor, poor girl. Feel her desperation! Feel it!). Jed takes this moment to support her and then grope her. Touched by his...um, feeling, Caitlin can no longer go on with her charade. Diana has left her new school and is apparently two steps away from a straight jacket, so she must tell him! Bravely putting the truth in a letter, she meets him at lunch and is about to give him the letter when he starts in on his anger about what happened with Diana. Caitlin decides not to give him the letter, because he's so angry about Diana giving him the letter will just make him more angry with her! As if he wouldn't be already. She goes back to her dorm room, sticks the letter in a book of love poems (how lovely) and decides to wait until they know each other better and are committed, or something. Because telling him after they've had sex and are living together and about to get married is clearly the better course of action.
Now, the best quote of the book:
“I love you, Jed.” She let him pull her closer, and his mouth covered hers, she was enveloped again in a dizzying cloud of happiness, until his hand slid slowly, gently over her breast and down the curve of her hip. She tensed. The subtle pressure of his hand made her aware of where they were heading.
But don't worry, they're sixteen. I'm sure they save the sex for some angry scene in book 2, when he surly finds out about the letter. More on Caitlin's exploits later!