Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lisa Kleypas: Where Dreams Begin

Where Dreams Begin: A-
Lady Holland Taylor & Zachary Bronson

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.

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. (amazon)

I was surprised I enjoyed this book so much. Holly emerges as a strong character; when given the opportunity to support herself and her daughter by the enigmatic Zachary Bronson, she takes his offer, to the surprise and shock of her late husband’s family.

Zachary’s offer is scandalous and Holly knows that her reputation would be beyond saving once she chooses to move in with him as his younger sister’s tutor/ social guide. She is necessary for his sister to succeed in the social graces of the ton because they are “base-born”; Zachary was born poor and through successful business enterprises, amassed a huge fortune, all but forcing the ton to acknowledge him.

Holly moves in with him and is plagued by her attraction to Zachary. She is still haunted by her love for her late husband and strives to keep him fresh in her memory, punishing herself for living. When Zachary makes a move on her, she feels guilty for feeling pleasure and tries to resist him… something that Zachary won’t allow because he is convinced she is the one for him.

As I’ve said, it was a bit irritating to read of Holly’s struggle; I’m sure it’s real and that it happens to widows. The grief that Holly feels, her attraction to Zachary, her despair and confusion are all emotions that Ms. Kleypas makes tangible through her writing. You can just about feel the pain that Holly feels. It goes on for a good portion of the book, making sense because her late husband’s death is something that cannot be easily remedied – she loved him deeply.

Normally I have a problem with this: I’m all right if the heroine/ hero is a widow but if the former husband/wife was a jerkface/ adulteress/ adulterer/ abuser/ rapist… That way, when the protagonist finds his “real love,” you know that the former marriage means nothing.

That is not the case with Holly’s story – she loved her husband dearly and was shattered by his death – dearly. It was to the point where I was left wondering if Holly would ever get over the death of her husband and move on, as hard as it would be. Since authors can’t portray this well enough for me (Julia Quinn’s When He Was Wicked is an example of this; I disliked the book) I don’t read stories with widows still in love with their spouse’s ghost.

It came as a shock to me that I enjoyed reading Holly and Zachary’s story, even though Holly’s journey of re-claiming her life.


(This might be a Victorian historical, I'm not quite sure. I would check but I don't have the book anymore. Sorry!)

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