Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dream Lake Book Review

Dream Lake takes readers once again to the exquisite setting of Friday Harbor, and tells the story of Zoӫ Hoffman, an innkeeper who has all but given up on love. She’s a gentle, romantic soul, but has been so hurt in the past that she dare not trust her heart with anyone. Especially not Alex Nolan. Alex is the most haunted of all the Nolan brothers. He drinks to keep his demons at bay and not only has he given up on love, he has never, ever believed in it. Zoӫ and Alex are oil and water, fire and ice, sunshine and shadow. But sometimes, it takes only a glimmer of light to chase away the dark. Dream Lake is classic Lisa Kleypas: romantic, powerful, emotional, and magical.
From the back cover of actual book --
They say that opposites attract. But what happens when one has been devastated by betrayal and the other is so jaded that his heart is made of stone? Enter the world of Friday Harbor, an enchanting town in the Pacific Northwest where things are not quite as they seem and where true love might just have a ghost of a chance….
Alex Nolan is as bitter and cynical as they come. One of the three Nolan brothers who call Friday harbor home, he's nothing like Sam or Mark. They actually believe in love; they think the risk of pain is worth the chance of happiness. But Alex battles his demons with the help of a whiskey bottle, and he lives in his own private hell. And then a ghost shows up. Only Alex can see him, Has Alex finally crossed over the threshold to insanity?
Zoë Hoffman is as gentle and romantic as they come. When she meets the startling gorgeous Alex Nolan, all her instincts tell her to run. Even Alex tells her to run. But something in him calls to Zoë, and she forces him to take a look at his life with a clear eye and to open his mind to the possibility that love isn’t for the foolish.
The ghost has been existing in the half-light of this world for decades. He doesn’t know who he is, or why he is stuck in the Nolans’ Victorian house. All he knows is that he loved a girl once. And Alex and Zoë hold the key to unlocking a mystery that keeps him trapped here.
Zoë and Alex are oil and water, fire and ice, sunshine and shadow. But sometimes it takes only a glimmer of light to chase away the dark, and sometimes love can reach beyond time, space, and reason to take hold of hearts that yearn for itThis book follows Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor and Rainshadow Road (Friday Harbor), books that tell the stories of the very dysfunctional Nolan brothers. This book actually runs in a concurrent timeline with Rainshadow Road so you get glimpses of Lucy and Sam's romance in progress tangentially from Alex's perspective.
In this one we get Alex's story. While all the Nolan siblings were affected by their parents' alcoholism, Alex got the brunt of it because he was the youngest and was still living at home when his parents spiraled relentlessly downward in the grip of their disease. The glimpses we had of Alex in the previous books showed that he was the most cynical, most damaged brother of all three. He is just getting out of a disastrous marriage, he is broke, unhappy, alcoholic and still living the scars of his childhood. And what is worse, he just doesn't care.
Until he starts being haunted by a ghost. A real live -- well, make that dead -- ghost. At first the ghost, a young WWII fighter pilot, is stuck in the house that Sam (Alex's brother) is remodeling for his Vineyard. But when he meets Alex, he becomes tethered to Alex and is forced to follow along witness Alex's destructive lifestyle. It is obvious he is attached to Alex for a reason. Part of the story is learning why.
In the meantime, Alex is rehabbing a house for Zoe and her grandmother. It brings him into contact a lot with Zoe who is sweet and generous and loving. Alex wants to run as fr away from Zoe as he can. Zoe however is drawn toward the dark brooding man.
There is so much to like in this book. I thought the author did an excellent job of creating dynamic characters especially with Alex and Zoe. She went beyond the typical tortured hero and healing-woman tropes and gave both main characters lovely depth and surprising layers. Zoe's own background is filled in and is a little sad and a little happy. I am glad that the author did not go the easy route in how she presented the troubled relationship between Zoe and her father. It felt realistic. I also thought that Alex's issue were also presented realistically without feeling too dramatic. In the earlier books his darker personality stood out and I am glad that the author did not temper it here.
I was also very gratified with how much information on different things were presented in this book but did not sound like you were being lectured at or that she was trying to impress us with how much research she had done on a subject. There were wonderful descriptive moments of Alex's craftsmanship as a carpenter as he is doing work on the various houses that made me feel as if I simply dropped in from time to time to watch him work. There are of course the fantastic and mouth watering descriptions of the meals that Zoe cooks and the blissed out reactions of people as they describe how the food tastes to them. I am still thinking about that oatmeal and I don't even like oatmeal.
And like the other books in the series this book dabbles in a little whimsical magic. There is a ghost who is there to bicker with Alex. But also Zoe's food itself has a hint of magic about it. Not so blatant as say, Like Water For Chocolate (Mass Market Paperback), but somewhat reminiscent. Her food makes people...feel things.
Most of all this is just a plain old good story. I can't tell you how many books I picked up and put down in the past weeks because nothing captured me. This book immediately hooked me and I gobbled it down quickly like one of Zoe's muffins.

About the Author:  Lisa Kleypas graduated from Wellesley College with a political science degree. She is a RITA award winning author of both historical romance and contemporary women's fiction. Her novels are published in fourteen different languages and are bestsellers all over the world. She lives in Washington State with her husband Gregory and their two children.

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