It's been a while again...
Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Title: Dream a Little Dream
Release date: 13th of October 2009
Series: Chicago Stars #4
Reading level: FICTION – ADULT: Romance, Contemporary
Published by: HarperCollins e-books
Pages: 404 in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle
A Desperate Young Mother
Rachel Stone's bad luck has taken a turn for the worse. With an empty wallet, a car's that's spilling smoke, and a five-year-old son to support, she's come home to a town that hates her. But this determined young widow with a scandalous past has learned how to be a fighter. And she'll do anything to keep her child safe—even take on. . .
A man With No Heart
Gabe Bonner wants to be left alone, especially by the beautiful outcast who's invaded his property. She has a ton of attitude, a talent for trouble, and a child who brings back bad memories. Yet Rachel's feisty spirit might just be heaven-sent to save a tough, stubborn man.
Dare To Dream
Welcome to Salvation, North Carolina—where a man who's forgotten what tenderness means meets a woman with nothing to lose. here two endearing lovers will set off on a funny, touching journey of the heart. . .to a place where dreams just might come true.
It’s no secret that SEP has figured out a magic formula for her stories that coincides precisely with what I look for in a highly satisfying romance: top-class humour, off-the charts banter and sexual tension, quirky yet tough down-on-her-luck heroine, a great redeeming act of love with a topping of angst, and a reluctantly in love hero. This is also everything the current book offered, in loads. This time the emphasis, however, was on the angst (less so on the humour), which I don’t mind at all, but there was an aspect of unnecessary cruelty there as well, that I kind of did have an issue with.
I cannot stress enough how much I adored, respected and admires Rachel. She had been through hell and her path of pain and humiliation did not end with meeting the hero. She was constantly mocked, bullied, offended, discriminated against… the whole package. And, while I somewhat understand the motivation of the townspeople, knowing the truth, that she was not the big bad, instead she was the most direct and unfortunate victim of her conman husband, I was very protective of her and took her troubles to heart. And, wanted to beat up and give a piece of my mind to all the ignorant morons. This included the brothers of Gabe, however charming they allegedly were supposed to be, and however much I sympathized with Cal in his own book. Despite this constant bullying, Rachel was hardworking, determined, upbeat and, most of all, she was an incredible sacrifice-herself-in-a-heartbeat mother to her adorable son Edward aka Chip.
Chip was simply delightful. I just wanted to take him and put him in my pocket to protect forever. I did feel, however, that the fearful, somewhat borderline abusing relationship between him and Gabe went a bit too far. I can try to understand Gabe’s pain and the cause for his behaviour, but Chip was such a sweetheart that even a slight wrong look towards him made me jump with my fist up, ready to bounce.
The romance between Rachel and Gabe was somewhat bittersweet, a lot more emotional and mature than other SEP books. Both of them hid tons of pain inside, but while Rachel forced the sun to shine over her head against all odds, Gabe revelled in the constant dark cloud over him. They were the couple you just cannot see working out, due to, among everything else, the mountain of baggage, but that surprise you in the end with outlasting everyone. The slow burn was also welcome and I appreciated that it took some time for them to have their relationship even slightly functional. A steady and constant development is key to an enjoyable romance that makes you cheer for the main couple and become invested. The epilogue was like balm on a wound and I thought it was a perfect bright sunny day in the end of years of rain. It did come across as too good to be true though, due to that drastic change, but enough angst and agony is enough.
The typical side romance, which SEP always ads as a side dish, didn’t do it for me this time. The coming together of Gabe’s younger brother Ethan and his overlooked secretary Kristy, was too superficial, short and cliché. It had potential though, so maybe a more detailed approach would have guaranteed better results. Maybe they should have had their own book? I think so. It would have also provided time to have a more positive image painted of Ethan, who was smeared with quite a bit of mud due to his treatment of Rachel. Also, being part of the Chicago Stars series, the story doesn't have much to do with football or it's hunky athletes, only Cal makes an appearance.