Top critical review
The fab four of the "Once Upon" series did it again!
on December 19, 2002
Courtesy of Love Romances
In Dreams by Nora Roberts
Kayleen Brennan was on vacation in Ireland, exploring the countryside and hoping to find some goods for her family's antique store in the States. When out exploring, she gets caught in a bad storm. The enigmatic Flynn rescues her, and then her adventures really begin. He is cursed to spend eternity living only through his dreams, with one week every 100 years to truly live. He intends to make this week one to remember with Kayleen, hoping to convince her to be with him forever. She is drawn to him, but when she finds out his secret, will she be able to accept him for who, or what, he is?
This was another good story from a master, but has a tendency to get bogged down in details. Granted, the heroine is an antiques expert, but is it really necessary to go into so much detail about Flynn's furniture? Queen Anne this, Louis XV that, it is overdone and detracts from the story. Kayleen and Flynn make an interesting pair however, complementing each other in many ways. The story surrounding Flynn is intriguing, as to why he is condemned to the "life" he has. If one can get past the over-the-top detail in many places, this is a delightful story.
The Sorcerer's Daughter by Jill Gregory
Willow of Brinhaven's father, a powerful dream sorcerer, is imprisoned for angering the great sorceress Lisha. He is doomed to remain there for 100 years, unless Willow brings Lisha the Necklace of Nyssa, which is protected by the Trolls. He father vows to send out a dream to a protector for Willow on her quest, leading her through the Perilous Forest and Troll's Lair. But in error, the wrong person, Blaine of Kendrick, receives the dream. Blaine is known for causing trouble and his exploits with women, and he is the last person she should count on. But upon meeting, they are drawn to each other and eventually agree to go on the quest together. But the more they are together, the more Blaine wishes for a different quest, one to win the fair Willow's heart forever.
This was quite a fantasy tale, with trolls, sorcerers, and magic galore. It has a cute storyline, with details of Willow's quest, and the matching of wits between Blaine and Willow. Blaine is the typical "bad boy" of those days, and Willow is a young woman trying to overcome her position in life. The sparks between the two of them will light up the darkest of nights. There is also an interesting side story; the real reason Lisha imprisoned Willow's father.
The Enchantment by Ruth Ryan Langan
Annie Tyler is trying to make a real estate business for herself in Maine. Things are going fairly well, but she gets her break when Cordelia Sykes Carrington, one of the wealthiest women in the state, solicits Annie to sell her summer home. When Annie arrives, expecting to have the place to herself, she is surprised to find Ben Carrington, one of Cordelia's sons, show up as well. When they become trapped there together by a sudden storm, strange things begin to happen, with a lack of electricity keeping them cut off from the outside world. But even stranger is the fact that they are falling for each other. When the storm is over and things are back to normal, will they find their attraction is real, or just a dream?
This was an okay story, but probably the least favorite of this reviewer's in the collection. Too many things are far-fetched and unrealistic. Example, Isn't it rather strange that ALL the power in the house, all the phones, and their cell phones don't work, but the refrigerator works just fine? The point is made several times throughout how there was a power failure, but neither character thinks it odd that the refrigerator works when the stove doesn't. Some of these smaller details just confuse the story, distracting one from the love story between Ben and Annie.
The Bridge of Sighs by Marianne Willman
Claire is an American art appraiser, trying to overcome her recent divorce from her adventurous ex-husband, Val. She gets the chance of a lifetime when Count Ludovici of Venice, summons her from one of the oldest and richest families in the city, to inventory and appraise his extensive art collection. She can't resist the chance to return to Venice, where she was born, but left as a young child. Her ex-husband is also there, to photograph the artwork, much to Claire's dismay. Or is it? She still loves him but is convinced things will never work. When she starts having haunting dreams of a young girl, Bianca... a dream which fast becomes a nightmare, upon learning Bianca disappeared many years ago, believed to be murdered. Will Claire and Val learn to be together again, or are they truly meant to be apart? Who is the mysterious Bianca, and what happened that fateful night she disappeared?
This was probably the favorite story in the collection. Especially since this reviewer was reading it during her very own dream vacation in Venice! It was fun to be reading about the very sights being visited. The story in itself is well written, too. Claire is a bit lost; trying to find her place in her life after everything she thought she wanted falls apart. The addition of the sad story of Bianca, enhances the feel of the story, and makes Claire realize she needs to go after her own dreams if she ever wants to be truly happy.
All in all, this is a memorable collection. Each and every book in the "series" these four authors collaborate on is a delight, well worth the addition to any romance lover's library. One will want to make this addition to their "keeper" shelf!