Re-Read Challenge: “Where Dreams Begin” By Lisa Kleypas

2 Dec

[edit: formatting]

re-read-challenge-2009

Info:Re-Read Challenge 2009

This month:Re-Read Challenge: November!


GENRE: Romance / Historical
PUBLISHED: , 2000

AVAILABILITY: still available

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.

Then

Where Dreams Begin was the second novel I read by Kleypas. To say that is my favorite historical romance by Kleypas doesn’t tell you much because I only read six of her historicals. To say that it is a historical I like and admire a lot is more meaningful, I think.

(see here my first comment)

Now

I still like Where Dreams Begin a lot. The only thing that mars my enjoyment, now and back then, comes near the end of the novel. I could have done without [Spoiler; highlight to read]Holly meeting her first husband in a near-death scene[/Spoiler]. I guess it just seems too fantastical to all that goes before to me. But other than that, I like Where Dreams Begin a lot.

Where Dreams Begin is a slow-paced story despite that it begins with a kiss between the heroine, Holly, and the hero, Zachery. It takes a few months before that happens again. It’s a slow build-up but the attraction is steadily growing and palpable.

Holly is a widow just out of the three-year period of mourning her husband, George, a man who everybody saw as the epitome of a true gentleman. A man Holly loved very much. She meets Zachary at a ball. Or more precisely: at a ball Holly wants to escape, she gets kissed by a man in a dark room. It’s only later she learns his identity.

Up until then, Holly led a very sheltered life. First her family took care of her and protected her from the harsher things in life, then her husband, and after his death, his husband’s family. The kiss is different from what Holly knows and what she is like and believes about herself. But it’s the first step for what is to come: Holly will slowly turn into a woman who does no longer rely on others to make decisions for her and take care of her. She’ll change:

Her actions of the past four months had proved that she was no longer the sheltered young matron, or the virtuous, circumspect widow that family and friends had approved of. She was becoming another woman entirely. (206)

Zachary is totally different than Holly’s late husband in many (outward) things. He wasn’t born to privileges and riches, he – literally for the first years – fought his way up in society. When he wants something, he tries everything in his power to get it. He isn’t above manipulation and at first, he thinks Holly will be no difference.

But then he slowly falls in love with her. One of the things I liked best in this novel (because it created lots of tension) is that Zach knows that as soon as he gets what he wants – Holly in his bed – she’ll be gone from his life. So he does all he can do to resist. He knows Holly is not for him. Too huge are the differences between them, in their position in society and in their character.

Where Dreams Begin looks at positions in society, on what social standing relies.

The idea that a man like Zachary Bronson might be inherently equal to a man like…well, like one of the Taylors, or even her dear George…it was a provocative notion. The great majority of aristocrat’s would immediately dismiss the idea. Some men were born with blue blood, with generations of noble ancestors behind them and this made them better, finer than ordinary men. This was what Holly had always been taught. But Zachary Bronson had started in life with no advantage whatsoever, and he had made himself into a man to be reckoned with. And he was trying very hard to better himself and his family, and soften the coarseness of his own character. Was he really so inferior to the Taylors? Or to herself? (101/102)

Where Dreams Begin is IMO a carefully constructed battle between traditional notions and modern notions of a person’s worth packed into a romance. And because of that, it’s still my favorite historical romance by Kleypas and still one of my best liked and admired historical romances.

Verdict: 4,5/5

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8 Responses to “Re-Read Challenge: “Where Dreams Begin” By Lisa Kleypas”

  1. Leslie Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 11:42 pm #

    Wonderful review Taja! Kleypas is a great choice for re-reading. Her books seem to stand the test of time. 🙂

  2. Keishon Saturday, December 5, 2009 at 8:29 am #

    Love this book. I like Kleypas historicals moreso than her contemporaries. But then I’ve only read the one contemporary. Hee.

  3. Taja Saturday, December 5, 2009 at 9:14 am #

    Leslie – thanks! I think it was the third time I read this one – still love it as much as the first time.

    Keishon – I read two of her contemporaries (really liked one, the other so-so). When I heard she’d written a contemporary I actually couldn’t believe it so strong was the connection Kleypas-historicals.

  4. Keishon Saturday, December 5, 2009 at 6:39 pm #

    Have you read any of Julia Garwood’s contemporaries? In her case, it was the opposite. I couldn’t stomach her historicals and enjoyed her contemps or the ones that I read.

  5. nath Sunday, December 6, 2009 at 1:46 am #

    Argh, I have a bunch of Kleypas books, but I don’t think I have this one 😦 You really make me want to read it though!

  6. Taja Sunday, December 6, 2009 at 4:05 pm #

    Keishon – I read three of Garwood’s historicals and decided that she wasn’t for me. Considering your comment, maybe I should look at one of her contemporaries.

    nath – that’s good! *g*

    Some people might think Holly too much of a martyr, but I really liked her. Her behavior fits the theme of traditional and more modern attitudes in the story, IMO.

  7. nath Monday, December 7, 2009 at 3:51 am #

    You know what? Turns out, I do have it! Woohoo 😀

  8. Taja Tuesday, December 8, 2009 at 9:39 am #

    nath – *g* I hope you’ll like it.

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