by Anne Hope, contemporary (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-60504-222-6
Hmm, Where Dreams Are Made isn't a bad story at all. The story of a desperate heroine on the run, finding shelter in a cozy town, and falling in love only to have her past catch up with her isn't anything new, but still, there's a pretty good reason why it's pretty much a staple storyline in anything geared towards women, I suppose. The thing here is, Ms Hope's writing tends to be a little too overwrought for my liking.
Jenny Logan is on the run. She helped to bail out her seventeen-year old neighbor from debt and therefore rescuing Roxie from a life of selling herself on the streets. Leo, the pimp who expected Roxie to work for him, is not happy as a result and he wants Jenny to take Roxie's place. What can she do but to run? And then we have Daniel Frost, our hero who is currently working for his grandfather's toy business. He is our Beast to the heroine's Beauty, what with him having all those scars from a car accident that killed the rest of his family. His grandfather is a different kind of pimp from Leo in that he wants to see Daniel get married and he will do it even if he has to pick up a stray from the street like Jenny and throw her in Daniel's path. He knows that Jenny is a good person because when he first spotted Jenny, she was comforting a deformed fellow on the street after the poor fellow was bullied by ruffians.
The granddaddy Sam Leland offers Jenny twenty thousand dollars to help make Daniel happy. In a non-hooker way, of course. Because she doesn't need to sleep with anyone and because she is always willing to help someone in need, Jenny naturally ends up as Daniel's new assistant, much to the man's dismay.
In this story, Jenny is a saint when it comes to bending over backwards to help people without even beginning to think about taking precautions to make sure that she doesn't get burned in the process. The stunt she pulled for Roxie is a prime example. For Jenny, there is nothing she won't do to help everyone but herself. I suspect that she's having some kind of psychiatric disorder where she is compelled to seize any opportunity that arises to become a martyr.
Daniel doesn't make things easy on himself either. He blames himself for the accident so he won't get any surgery to get rid of the scars. And naturally, he is emo about those scars as well. There is no way he is going to let anyone get past his defenses, but Jenny isn't merely "anyone". She's such a saint that Oprah Winfrey will probably need adult diapers to contain her excitement should Jenny ends up as the guest shrink on her show.
In this story, there is no middle ground as everyone operates in extremes. Leo is so evil, he pretty much twirls his imaginary mustache as if he's Snidely Whiplash. Daniel and Jenny are perfect saints who are only capable of negative emotions when it comes to depreciating themselves or throwing tiresome pity parties. Sam comes off like the biggest pimp in the land in this story, but still, he's written as the best grandfather in the world who knows that a good woman is what his grandson needs in order to get Mr Happy all up and running again. And throughout everything, the author writes in a pretty overwrought manner that is not to my liking, to the point that the more emotional scenes in this story feel overly staged and contrived.
Where Dreams Are Made is one of those stories that feel way too much like some Hallmark Christmas special TV movie of the week thing. I'm too cynical to fully embrace such feel-good sugary melodrama, not without wanting to point and laugh at how manipulative and cloying the whole thing is, so this one definitely doesn't do it for me.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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