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Stirring-loss, survival, passion, & the love of a little boy
on February 11, 2004
Susan Elizabeth Phillips is quickly becoming a favorite author of mine. This is her fourth book I have read in the past month and I have given three of those books the highest rating. Her stories are so touching and full of life. In Dream a Little Dream, her leads are very likable with well-rounded and interesting secondary characters. And one of those secondary characters is Rachel's five-year-old son, Edward. At times your heart loves him and breaks for him as he attempts to guard his mom, arrange a marriage for her, and put down roots in Salvation. This is not some cutesy kid - this is a heartrending portrayal of the son of a single mom who doesn't expect any one to like him and requires so little in life for happiness. As the son of a crooked, notorious, deceased televangelist, he has experienced a lot of rejection. There is a lot to be worked out in his life and it is a very dear sideline for this story. His relationship with the hero is realistic - filled with problems and those problems propel the turning point of the book.
Rachel has returned to her former home of Salvation, North Carolina - a place where she is despised because she is the widow of the deceased televangelist who put Salvation on the map and then ran away with millions from his ministry. They believe she was involved in the religious scam and spurn her and her son at every turn. Rachel is totally without money, friends, family, or resources. Her car breaks down as she is nearing Salvation at an old drive in movie theatre. There she meets Gabe Bonner who has purchased the old drive in and is restoring it. He has advertised for help and she decides she will fill the job. However, Gabe wants nothing to do with this woman and her young son. He is unkind, insulting, and pushy as he demands that they get off his property.
Gabe is a rugged, good-looking man recovering from a tragic loss. Even with his pushy, rude treatment of Rachel and Edward in the beginning of the book, he still appears as an overall attractive and very desirable man. Gabe is unaware that Rachel's broken down car is their home and calls a tow truck to get it and them off his property. But Rachel won't give up so easily. She is probably the most persistent heroine I have read and Gabe eventually gives in and hires her. Gabe and Rachel find themselves drawn to one another although neither wants a relationship. While Rachel would deny to anyone her poverty status, Gabe begins to recognize the many things Rachel and Edward go without and attempts to help them financially. It was rather refreshing when Rachel accepted his help - that seems to be in the "no-no" book of rules for romance heroines. So often the heroine refuses sensible help because she doesn't want to appear "bought". However, Rachel had no such qualms.
The characters from Nobody's Baby But Mine return in this book. I have not read this prequel to Dream a Little Dream. I think I would have enjoyed this book even more if I had but it also stands fine as a read alone book. One adult secondary character you will really enjoy is Gabe's younger brother - a pastor in Salvation. I have read few - if any - realistic portrayals of a minister in romance. But this one is really well done and adds greatly to the story line. Cal, Gabe's older brother (and the hero from Nobody's Baby But Mine), is quite the antagonist and behaves rather badly towards Rachel. He's a former good guy who becomes one you "love to hate" at one point in Dream a Little Dream. His comeuppance is served so well and with such subtle humor that it is one you will definitely remember.
I highly recommend Dream a Little Dream. It is a moving story in so many aspects. There are no silly misunderstandings between the leads and they both act quite maturely once they become involved. The sensual rating is about a 4.0 out of 5.0 (see More About Me for rating guidelines). Dream a Little Dream is the third of four books in the Chicago Stars series. First in the series is Heaven, Texas followed by Nobody's Baby But Mine, then Dream a Little Dream, with This Heart of Mine as the last.