Today is the last TBR challenge of the year. I did okay this year I think, missing two challenges if I remember correctly :( Hopefully, I'll do better next year because I do plan on continuing this challenge :D
Anyway, I guess I should start writing the review... if I want the review to go up before the day is over! :) This month, I read a real TBR pile book LOL. One that has been written a number of years ago and which has been in my TBR pile for a while :) Actually, I don't even remember when I bought this book, so it has to be 2 or 3 years :)
Where Dreams Begin by Lisa Kleypas
published by Avon in July 2000
Zachary Bronson has built an empire of wealth and power - now he needed a wife to help secure his position in society... and warm his bed in private. But not just any woman will do for a man whom all of London knows is not a gentleman. Then he unexpectedly swept Lady Holly Taylor into his arms for an unasked for - but very alluring - kiss, and suddenly he knew he had found a woman whose fierce passions matched his own.Genre: historical romance
Lady Holly Taylor was beautiful, generous, and, as a widow, destined to spend her life playing by society's rules, even when they went against her bolder instincts. But Zachary's kiss had aroused her, and though the shocking offer he made didn't include marriage, she was compelled to risk everything and follow him to the place where dreams begin.
The Story: Hmmm, the blurb is close, but not entirely correct... so let me attempt to write my own summary. Lady Holland Taylor had a very good marriage and relationship with her husband, before he succumbed to typhoid fever three years ago. She is now coming out of mourning and is attending a ball for the first time... during which she is mistaken for another lady and passionately kissed by Zachary Bronson.
Zachary has built himself a fortune and become a very influential man. However, he wants to take it farther and be accepted by the ton. All he needs is a little polish for himself, his mother and his sister. As such, he offers the position to Lady Holly Taylor, because her reputation and station is above reproach and because he wants her. At first, Holly refuses the offer, because a lady of her station should not work, but to work for Zachary would ruin her reputation entirely... but the amount of money Zachary is offering is very enticing... especially since the death of her husband, she's been living with his family and their charity. Although they treat her very well, she wants better for her little daughter, Rose. So she accepts... but close proximity to Zachary might make her forget all about her reputation.
My Opinion: I picked up Where Dreams Begin because Taja has recently reviewed it for the re-read challenge. I was actually surprised to find it in my TBR pile... totally didn't remember buying it ^_^;
I'm glad I read the book; however, this was not my favorite Lisa Kleypas book. Overall, I thought it was just okay. There were a lot of good things actually in the story... such as Holly having a good marriage with her husband. She was happy, she loved him and was satisfied (to a certain point). I also liked the timeline, i.e. that Ms Kleypas took her time building the relationship and attraction between Holly and Zach. I think that the book spans a period of 4 to 6 months. Plus, I felt Ms Kleypas really did her research - when Holly was teaching proper behavior, I learned a lot. The little details were very interesting... This is something I feel a lot of historical romance books are missing lately. The stories take place in the regency period, but the characters don't act the time period. The characters were also all quite lovable... even Zach, despite his whoring to quench his desire for Holly (it helped that it was only mentioned and not describe).
My issue though with this book is that I felt it fell a little flat. I didn't really connect with Holly and I don't think that Zach and Holly had much chemistry. They had very different personalities and while they tried to get to know each other better, I don't think they really succeed. Where Dreams Begin just didn't grab me emotionally. The only character I felt attachment for was Rose, because she was so cute. The book was well-written and pleasant, but something was missing. Perhaps a bit more action since the characters were quite passive and very internal.
A few things I'd like to add... I did like the secondary romance, although it was very minor. It had been fun to see more of it. I did like the fact that Zachary had a mother and how uncomfortable she was with her new status. I think that made the book more realistic. I didn't care about the addition of the duke as a third party. He was totally superfluous. Holly had enough on her hands, adding the duke and a promise to her dead husband... meh. Also, I didn't see why the duke agreed to the promise. Finally, I really would have liked it more if Holly had to grovel a bit more. Do women grovel? When she got cold feet, Zach specifically told her he didn't give anyone second chances... but then, she came back and they had sex and they got married. Meh.
My Grade: C. Like I said, Where Dreams Begin was not a bad book... but it did fail grabbing my interest.