Once a Dreamer, by Candice Hern

>> Thursday, August 07, 2003

Earlier this week I finished Once a Dreamer (excerpt), by Candice Hern.

The fiery Miss Tennant wants satisfaction from the popular lady columnist who ruined young Belinda's life. But imagine Eleanor's surprise when she discovers the anonymous author of the odious advice is a disarmingly attractive man named Simon Westover! Well, the handsome cad is responsible for this outrage and he will set things right! As for Simon, he must protect his "Busybody" identity at all costs -- and therefore agrees to help Eleanor scour the English countryside for missing Belinda and her paramour.

But the intoxicating nearness of the exquisite lady -- not to mention her dazzling emerald eyes and lush, kissable lips -- is almost too much for a hopeless romantic like Simon to bear. Yet how can he convince Eleanor that he is no mere meddler but a passionate male with intense desires . . . and prove to the stubborn, straightforward miss that dreams of love can come true?
Once a Dreamer was close, very close to being a keeper, but the last 30 pages or so made it miss. Still, a B+.

I love beta heros and I love road romances, so I'm probably the target audience for this one.

Simon was a sweetie. He was a complete romantic, a feminist and also a bit of a revolutionary. Not weak at all, he was a man who stood up for what he thought was right and acted to improve the world. I loved him.

Eleanor was harder to like. She was pragmatic, a realist and a bit of a pessimist, a woman who had a deep distrust of love. She had reasons to be this way, though, and it was perfectly understandable that she would be so sure that Belinda was headed towards disaster.

Most of the book is devoted to Simon and Eleanor's trip north, after Belinda. There's a bit of armchair travelling here for the reader, very well done. During their trip, Simon and Eleanor have no big adventures, just little contretemps, and the best thing is that they talk. They discuss things, neither changing the other's ideas, both respecting each other and understanding where they're coming from. They really get to know each other, and this was very good.

All was fine until the final 30 pages, when Eleanor goes crazy and does several things that seem very out of character (and cruel), and which, IMO, serve only to provide some unnecessary conflict.

Not that this ruined the book, not at all, but it kept the book from being a keeper.

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