Once Upon A Dream
by Nora Roberts, Jill Gregory, Marianne Willman, and Ruth Ryan Langan; paranormal/fantasy (2000)
Jove, $7.50, ISBN 0-515-12947-X


This anthology is a 50% thing. The novellas by Nora Roberts and Ruth Ryan Langan are wonderful, while the other two - well, the less said the better. All are paranormal in nature, with dreams playing a major role in getting our lovebirds together.

Nora Roberts kicks off this overpriced anthology with In Dreams, a splendidly romantic and atmospheric novella. Kayleen Brennan, while braving a thunderstorm in Irish paradise of a countryside, ends up in the clutches of an immortal magician who has been waiting for her for centuries. This one is filled with magic and evocative passion and eroticism as befits its stature as a paranormal romance. Magic and amour - potent mix indeed. I love this one.

Then it's Jill Gregory's The Sorcerer's Daughter which features the sort of heroine that never fails to make me want to throw up - the innocent "child-woman" type. Willow of Brinkhaven wants to save daddy so she sends a dream to a powerful man who could aid her. Oops, this ditz sends it to a wrong fellow - a dangerous man called Blaine the Wolf. Blaine is a man, a macho destroyer of a man, and pairing him with Willow who acts as if she is mentally not-there is unhealthy in my books. It's like watching a steamroller (Blaine) crushing hapless babies (Willow).

If hapless, incapabality, incompetence, and starry-eyed (probably chemically-induced) oblivion in heroines is your cuppa, you'll love this one, where our Tortured Hero is Redeemed by Absolute Innocence. Me, no thanks.

Ruth Langan has a great novella. The Enchantment. Annie Tyler and Ben Carrington are trapped in a house where there are secrets together. As they share dreams and stuff, they fall in love. If this story sounds like it isn't much, well, it's just me. I have no idea how to tell the synopsis without giving away pivotal plot points. TE is like a beautiful Gothic drama of romance, magic, and timeless bonds. Utterly evocative and romantic. Again, I love this one.

And finally, Marianne Willman's The Bridge Of Sighs. Lovely title, utterly boring story. Claire and Val, both estranged, meet again in modern Venice, and they rekindle their love over lots of bickering. Seems she divorced him because he works too hard. Really, huh? Meanwhile, she dreams of some silly woman and her lover, and sees it as a sign that she must go back to Val. Very nice. Too bad Claire and Val are as interesting as mud and the whole divorce-and-remarry theme seems silly. Would you divorce a spouse only to go back to him after a brief recourtship and some supposedly hot romp in bed? Val and Claire end up rather shallow creatures in a rather trivial and uninteresting plot.

Once Upon A Dream, therefore is a 50-50 affair. Two very good novellas and two really mediocre one share the spotlight. And for $7.50, I'm still not sure if I got a good deal out of it.

Rating: 70


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