I just finished reading the Dream trilogy, by Nora Roberts, and I have to say I loved it. I like most of what Roberts writes, but it’s extremely formulaic and often trite.
This series was still formulaic: guy and girl meet or re-meet, guy and girl get involved, a crisis is averted, guy and girl have giant fight and break-up, guy and girl finally use words to communicate and stop assuming things about the other and get together. This is the way most of her books work. There are a few series though that are peppered with enough realism and good characterization that I fall in love. And this series was one of them (the other notable one being The Wedding Quartet, which I have read/listened to no less that ten times).
The first book is Daring to Dream. It stars Margo, a down-on-her-luck model who is in the midst of scandal. Here’s Amazon’s summary:
Margo, Kate and Laura were brought up like sisters amidst the peerless grandeur of Templeton House. But it was Margo whose dreams first took her far away . . .
Margo Sullivan had everything a young woman could ask for. But while growing up along the rocky cliffs of Monterey, she couldn’t help but dream of bigger things. The daughter of the Templeton’s stern Irish housekeeper, Margo had been treated like a member of the family. Deep down, she knew that money could not buy the thing she craved most—her mother’s acceptance.
Maybe things would be different if she could be sweet like Laura—or had Kate’s shrewd head for business. But all Margo knew how to do was be Margo, and that meant doing things her own way—no matter what the consequences . . .
I like books where old family friends fall in love. And that’s what happens here. Josh, Laura’s older brother has loved Margo forever and been biding his time. When she comes back home disgraced, he’s there to help pick up the pieces. Their interaction is witty and fun, but the flashbacks were what got me. Margo claims that all this is new and strange, but the backstory reveals that she’s been trying to get Josh to see her as a woman since they were kids. It’s cute. The friendship between Margo, Laura, and Kate was a high point, but I’m a sucker for stories that revolve around women friendships.
Kate and Laura also have little sideline stories going on. Laura’s getting a divorce because she walked in on her husband screwing the secretary. Kate is overly stressed and the three of them beat up Candy Litchfield in a locker room. Which made me laugh out loud.
The next book is my favorite of the three, Holding the Dream. This one revolves around Kate, the practical accountant, who is accused of embezzling from her firm.
Surrounded by the sweeping cliffs and beauty of Big Sur, Kate Powell treasured her life at Templeton House…and the family who raised her like one of their own. Although Kate lacked Margo’s beauty and Laura’s elegance, she knew she had something they would never possess—a shrewd head for business. Driven by ambition, Kate measured her life’s success with each soaring promotion. But now faced with professional impropriety, Kate is forced to look deep within herself—only to find something missing in her life…and in her heart.
The description is a little too flowery for Kate. She ends up having a romance with Byron DeWitt, a southern gentleman. It’s her complete phobia of romance that lead me to like her. Byron sort of eases romantic ideas on to her and rationalizing with practical reasons. I doubt any man is this eternally patient. However, the last conversation they have in the book, the one where they work it all out, made me laugh so hard I cried.
“See? That’s just what happens when you get tangled up in love. You hurt each other. I didn’t ask to be in love with you, did I? I didn’t plan it. And now I can’t bear the idea of being without you, of not sitting at the table in the morning watching you cook breakfast, or listening to you tell me to concentrate when you’ve got me lifting those damn weights. Walking on the beach with you and those mangy dogs. And I want a baby.”
Stunned, he waited a beat. “Now?”
“You see? You see what you’ve done?” She sank onto the couch and buried her face in her hands. “Listen to what I’m saying. I’m a mess. I’m insane. I’m in love with you.”
I can clearly see myself having a conversation similar to this if I ever fall in love. It was disturbing and illuminating. And terrifying. By this time, Margo has a son with Josh and Laura has been divorced from her soulless husband for one year.
The last one, Finding the Dream, was sappy. But I still like it because I like sappy. It’s Laura’s turn to fall in love.
Laura Templeton found out the hard way that nothing in life is guaranteed. The daughter of a wealthy hotelier, she had always known comfort, privilege, and security. But by the age of thirty, her storybook marriage had been destroyed by her husband’s infidelity. Laura’s divorce left her both emotionally and financially devastated–but determined to rebuild her life without the Templeton fortune.
Laura had always defined herself as a wife, a daughter, or a mother. Now, she must finally discover Laura the woman…
This book is about Laura discovering she doesn’t have to be perfect. Which was great. Michael Fury (yes, his last name is Fury) was the bad boy of her teen years and returns as the bad boy horse wrangler. I was impressed. Her daughters end up completely falling for him and vice-versa. I actually think the sweetest relationship in the book was between her youngest, Kayla, and Michael. Before he has any feelings for Laura, he’s completely taken by Kayla. It’s so great.
When he plucked her off and her arms wound tight around his neck in a hug, he felt, for the first time in his life, like a hero.
“Can I do it again sometime, Mr. Fury?”
“Sure you can.”
With easy affection and trust, she wrapped her legs around his waist, grinning at him. “When Mama gets home she’ll be so surprised I rode the horse all by myself and steered her and everything.”
“You sure did. And now we know she likes girls.”
“She’ll like Mady, so she’ll be happy. I’m going to tell Annie right now how I rode the horse. Thanks, Mr. Fury.”
She wiggled down and raced off, the pup scrambling after. Michael watched her, stroking the mare’s neck.
“You’ve done it now, Fury,” he murmured. “Gone and fallen in love with that pretty little blonde.” He looked into his mare’s eyes, kissed her. Sighed. “Not supposed to fall for what you can’t keep.”
This is precious.
She squeezed harder. “I love you, Mr. Fury.”
Hell, what had he done? “I love you too.” Which was, he realized with some amusement, the first time he’d said those words to a female in all of his life.
It’s so great and my favorite part of the story.
Ultimately I saw how this series was a bit of a precursor to The Wedding Quartet. With the men, at least. Michael and Malcolm are similar, with their bad boy image and Hollywood stuntman backgrounds. Josh is a little like Delaney. Both lawyers and in the family business. Mrs. Williamson is like Mrs. Grady. There’s some overlapping. But I don’t mind. I liked the series overall and will probably read it again sometime.