Description per Goodreads:
WILL THEY DARE TO DREAM A DREAM FOR LOVE?
A single mother with a secret past. A Hollywood star who’s life is anything but hidden. Will the past deprive them of a future? Or will they dare to dream a dream for love?
When the gavel hit the wooden block at the Possible Dreams Auction, Laurel Simmons sat in stunned silence. Her sister had lost her mind, purchasing a week’s vacation stay for two at actor Ryan Crandall’s beach house on Martha’s Vineyard. And then Tammy announced that she was giving the “dream” to Laurel as an early birthday present.
A month later, Laurel and her four-year-old daughter Gracie arrive at the luxurious house on Squibnocket Beach ready to swim, play, picnic and enjoy the peace and solitude together.
Laurel’s dream vacation quickly turns into a nightmare when Hollywood bad boy Ryan Crandall shows up to escape his latest tabloid headlines. Ryan wants the woman and her child gone. Laurel wants him gone. Fate will bring them together for reasons neither one of them expected, but fate will also drive them apart.
Laurel has a past she needs to keep hidden. Her life and Gracie’s depend on it. Ryan has a past, and present, that’s been food for public consumption for over a decade. Will the past deprive them of a future? Or will they dare to dream a dream for love?
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The book description is a little long, and the book was, too, yet I enjoyed it. I don’t regularly read Christian Romance–I find it’s usually too touchy-feely for my taste–but I wanted to read this one because its premise reminded me of a story idea I’d once read in a writing book, and I wanted to see how Ms. Belcastro had worked out the details.
And I really liked what she does with the concept. Here’s a look at the book, examining its Narration, Content, Characters, Artwork, World Building, and my Overall Reaction.
Narration: 3 out of 5. It wasn’t amazing, poetic writing per se, but it wasn’t bad. There weren’t the typos I often find in indie and small-imprint published books (I think I found just one), and the dialogue shone. Every once in a while, the action didn’t make sense, like when the narration discussed what people were doing or how they were moving, but for the most part, it did its job: it carried the story, and the character’s emotional responses, forward.
Content: 4 out of 5. I really enjoyed the content of this book. There wasn’t a lot of drama, fights, or tension in the romance; for the most part, we spent our time with the threesome (Laurel, Gracie, and Ryan) in quiet, pleasant, sweet get-togethers. Ms. Belcastro is one of the few writers I’ve encountered who can actually write about a happy scene, where nothing is happening but a relaxed, feel-good time with its coming off as cheesy, boring, or unbelievable.
But there was a lot of it, to the point where one wondered when the ominous past would creep in and start threatening their future. And I felt like the past was only used as a threat, to create some plot in an otherwise tame book. I won’t spoil the ending, but I felt it was resolved a little too quickly to be believable (especially for a book that categorized itself as “suspense” and “adventure”).
Still, the lighthearted parts were great fun; I think this story would make a great romantic comedy. There wasn’t anything objectional: no sex and no swearing that I can recall. If anything, there was a little too much discussion of how the couple responded emotionally to each other, but then, I prefer an understated romance, such as you find in fantasy or science fiction.
Characters: 4 out of 5. The cast of characters were what really carried the story forward, for me. Gracie was adorable, but not so cute as to be fake (though I did wonder that she acted more like a five year old than a four year old). Laurel was understandably conflicted, and Ryan was sweet…but that was where I had some issues.
Given Ryan’s lifestyle for the last ten years, I felt like he changed a little too much, too quickly. I felt like there should have been more moments of his being a selfish jerk, followed by contrition, rather than transformation that seems to have occurred. And some of his lines were awfully cheesy for “real” life.
Of course, he is an actor, so maybe he’s used to talking in a fake sort of way? 🙂
Artwork: Subjective. The book cover was beautiful. The dark rock and dark tones to the purple sea gave a pinch of ominous to an otherwise rosy, romantic setting, which fit the story well, I thought (and was lovely to look at).
World Building: 5 out of 5. For a romance, I think we knew everything we needed to know about the world of the story. There was adequate description, and everything seemed consistent, both with the location of the story and the feel of it. Most of the focus was on the characters and the mood they created, but there was enough concrete details to make everything seem like it was happening in a real place (and, since it was written by someone who lives on Martha’s Vineyard, it should be consistent). 🙂
Overall Response: 16 out of 20, for a total of 4. I’m rather glad I have my own copy, as there are parts that would be fun to reread. I wouldn’t recommend it as an adventure or suspense novel, but for anyone who enjoys Christian Romance, I would certainly suggest you give it a read. It’s clean, not too preachy, and every bit as good as the mainstream Christian Romance Writers. (In fact, I think it’s better than most of the best-sellers in that subgenre.)
Guest review contributed by Andrea Lundgren. Andrea enjoys books and all things writing–from how we write to why we write–and her blog explores things from a writer’s point of view.