is a romance community member review
for Where Dreams Begin
Date of Review: 01/16/07
This one is quite a page-turner. I've never read a Lisa Kleypas book that I unreservedly loved, but WHERE DREAMS BEGIN sure comes pretty close. The only element that keeps me from giving this story a 9 or a 10 is the heroine, Lady Holland Taylor.
Her name is a little awkward. When she's referred to as Lady Holland, it sounds like they're addressing Lady Lastname. But this isn't an issue, just a minor quibble.
And Lady Holly's hesitations and doubts about her new relationship are not unrealistic. After all, her attraction toward a self-made man, who's from the lower classes, whom no one in her world seems to like or admire -- well, that's enough to make one doubt one's judgment. Particularly when your world is London society circa 1830, and you have no experience of anyone outside of that narrow, aristocratic band of members.
I think perhaps my problem with Holly lies in the fact that her dithers and doubts about Zachary are dragged on just a bit too long, even bringing her to the point of considering her late husband's best friend as a husband. Admittedly, this is partially due to a deathbed promise she made her husband, but the introduction of this potential rival for Holly's hand was clumsily written. There was no hint of Holly's deathbed promise to marry him before this rival turned up. Then again, the husband's tragic death and Holly's grief were already strongly emphasized; indeed, perhaps too much so.
And so, for a while, mercifully brief, Holly is a veritable Hamlet of a heroine, unable to make up her mind. Should I love him or shouldn't I? Will he stay in (physically & emotionally) in love with me if I do let myself love him? Should I act on the physical attraction with Zachary, or should I settle for the friendship marriage with Lord Ravenhill? What to do, what to do... Dither, dither, doubt, doubt.
But fortunately the developing love affair gets back on track fairly soon, and Holly and Zachary have their happy ending, yet not before a rather unusually creative twist from this author, which also neatly wraps up Holly's feelings for her late husband. A very nice touch, which makes up for my dissatisfaction with some of Holly's issues and behavior.
The book has lots of nice touches, such as Zachary's shy mother, who knows more about her son and Holly than she lets on, and his sister Elizabeth, by turns dismissive and anxious about making a debut into a society she could care less about, but who doesn't want to let her brother down. Zachary is a fine hero, a mature Kleypas creation. Holly's little daughter Rose is sweet without being too saccharine. And Holly's maid, Maude, adds some light comic relief, particularly when she's talking about Zachary's household.
All in all, a very good & recommended romance read, if not quite a carry-me-away romantic sweep of a story. Just a few character development flaws in the heroine and an unreasonable plot twist give it a bit less than the highest rating I could bestow.