A Kiss To Dream On
by Neesa Hart, contemporary (1999)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-80787-4

Just when I thought contemporary romances have degenerated into just another Extended Cowboys And Undercover Cops Fiesta, along comes a good no-nonsense romance that goes straight to the point. A Kiss To Dream On is a marvelously romantic story about two people being in love. No running away from mafia and snogging the bodyguard schmo here: this story is about people falling in love. And it's a great one too.

Cameo "Cammy" Glynn is a deaf therapist who runs Wishing Star, a center for deaf children. She isn't too pleased when hot-shot worldly reporter Jackson Puller is brought in to give some publicity to the center. In the grand tradition of all things romantic and nice, these two fall in love. But there is baggage by the cartload: Jackson's a burnt-out, disenchanted reporter whose experiences in Bosnia has left a wound deep inside, while Cammy still bears emotional scars from her childhood (her parents treated her like dung for being deaf, with Dad openly embarrassed by her and Mom blaming her for their marriage breakup, plus a few more skeletons in the family closet). How they resolve this and find a middle ground makes one magical read.

The skilful way the author integrates political and social issues concerning the deaf is only an added plus to an already great read. Unlike Ms Hart's previous contemporary Halfway To Paradise, A Kiss To Dream On doesn't make the two leads' emotional baggage the plot. This is not Overcoming Your Trauma And Insecurities 101 masquerading as a romance. Jackson and Cammy bring out the best in each other - he makes her laugh and let go of the past, and she makes him laugh and start to belief. These two people are so great together, I can't help it but to cheer them along. When Jackson and Cammy find themselves better persons, more complete because of the other, now that's what I call love.

Especially Jackson, who proves that he would walk through fire and probably catch the moon just to hear Cammy tell him she loves him. Now that's my man! He may be jaded and hard-edged, but he knows when he has found the right woman he wants to spend his life with. And he's no quitter, heck, when Cammy puts up the obligatory go-away act (this time, with good reason, I may add), he refuses to go away. You go, Jackson! That's my boy.

By page 86, I have this big silly grin on my face that hubby inquires cattily if I have been fooling with the helium tanks in the Chemistry labs. By page 200, my eyes have misted up, and it is all I can do not to give a rousing cheer by the time I reach the end. What a great read, and what wonderful last few chapters!

I find myself thinking it would be nice to actually know Jackson and Cammy as real persons, for they are two people with big hearts. I also find myself feeling... well, much, much happier and it's as if a great weight as been lifted off my shoulders when I have finished this book. To me, that's a sure sign of a keeper. Not just a keeper, but a great one. One reserved for the upper levels of my bookshelf, marked Borrow this AND DIE.

Rating: 92

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