Los Angelesbased physician Brewer debuts with this tale of a love affair shattered by AIDS: a first novel that wavers between unbearable schmaltz and genuine sorrow. Alexandra Taylor, a technically gifted young illustrator, meets Eric Moro when he's sent to her as a model for a medical textbook on musculature. Brilliant med student Eric, a wild, Harley-riding genius, ravishingly handsome with a wizard tattoo and ``long, jet black hair,'' from a background of wealth and yet a man of the people, is just short of perfection. It comes as little surprise, then, when he, well versed in the sappy-suave language of romance novels, sweeps Alex off her feet. Understandably, Alex soon dumps her live-in love Peter (he didn't approve of her out-of-the- blue yearning to become a skywriter anyway) and joins Eric in the land of cornball bliss. The two are planning their wedding when Eric learns that he's HIV positive, and their future disappears. The story shifts its focus to describe the slow progression toward death, tracing the couple's grief for the life they cannot share and their halting preparation for the final separation. Various subplots—among them a lawsuit on Eric's behalf, accusing a hospital residency program of discriminating against him because of his HIV status, and the revelation of Eric's family secrets- -distract from the heartbreaking circumstances. Brewer succeeds in jerking a tear in the final hour of death and everlasting love, but it's only after a novel's worth of idealized characters and a candy-coated version of the ravages of the disease. Virtuous premise aside, Brewer's heavy hand turns what could have been a touching exploration of love in the age of AIDS into a pulp romance.
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