Tuesday, July 24, 2012

ARC Review: Dream Lake

Dream Lake
Lisa Kleypas
Contemporary Romance
Friday Harbor/Book 3
Piatkus Books/August 7, 2012

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.

In the third book of Lisa Kleypas' contemporary series emotions run high as Kleypas tackles two very serious subjects - elder care and alcoholism.  Zoe Hoffman must balance her work and her love for her grandmother, whose increasing needs for care are paralleled by her declining health.  Alex Nolan has avoidance issues that he chooses to drink away.  Both Zoe and Alex face hard decisions and learn that it's okay to lean on family and good friends. 

Alex Nolan's childhood was far from idyllic.   He's the youngest of four who was left home in an abusive household while his older siblings were able to make their escape.  His adult relationships have not been much better with a soon to be ex-wife taking nearly everything Alex owns.  Alex's seemingly one redeeming quality is his work.  He is a builder and developer whose grand dreams for developing have been put on hold.  So now he is hiding out at his brother Sam's home, helping fix it up. 

I didn't think I would come to like Alex as much as I did.  He can and is a real ass at times but as the reader gets to know and understand him, much can be forgiven.  He also has this interesting relationship with a character that surprised me in how much I enjoyed not only the development of their relationship but the two viewpoints as seen through their eyes.

Zoe Hoffman has a gift for making the most delicious creations.   I loved reading about everything she cooked and baked.  Made me hungry and anxious to do some baking myself!  Along with being a goddess in the kitchen, Zoe is also a very devoted granddaughter who is now the caretaker of her ailing grandmother.  Zoe, like Alex, had a childhood that proved to be unstable when it came to adults except for her grandmother.  Zoe and her grandmother, Emma, make a home together and remain close.   Kleypas does well in showing how Zoe and her grandmother's relationship has come full circle with Zoe now the caregiver.  There were certainly sad, heartbreaking moments but overall I really liked these wonderful ladies. 

 Zoe and Alex develop a friendship along with their romance.  The friendship, like most friendships, isn't all sunshine and rainbows and neither is their romance.  But it would have felt off had they had an easy time of it considering all they had to not only overcome with their past but also with their present situations.   I really liked these two together and how Zoe gave Alex room to figure things out for himself.  Alex had alcoholism to first admit to then deal with before he could be part of a serious relationship. 

Dream Lake overlaps the same time period as Rainshadow Road.  I wouldn't say there are spoilers in Dream Lake for Rainshadow but I do think it helps if you read the series in order.  Also, Sam, Mark, Maggie and Holly all make appearances but the main focus is on Alex and Zoe, both separate and together.  Pretty well balanced all around. 

Note:  I wanted to keep this review spoiler free but I do want to mention there is a character some readers may not like.  If you want to know more, you can email me and I'll spoil you. :)

Rating: A-

Friday Harbor Series

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor
Rainshadow Road
Dream Lake
Crystal Cove (February 3, 2013)


  1. Oh wow, an A-?
    I have not been enjoying this series, to be honest. I've felt like the touches of surrealism have felt a wee bit phony, and I haven't had that certain *oomph* that Kleypas novels normally give me. Like the series lacks charisma, I guess?
    Maybe it's because I've been comparing to her other contemporary series, 'Travis'.

    I don't know. I'm looking forward to the 3rd instalment now though, what with your encouraging review and rating!

  2. The release of this book has kind of snuck up on me. This is the first mention I have seen it.

    I will read it because it's Lisa Kleypas, but like Danielle this series hasn't necessarily worked that well for me.

  3. I am SO glad you enjoyed this book so much, Leslie! I am definitely going to give this series a shot... I can't believe I haven't started it yet. This is Lisa K! It's great to see that A-. :D

  4. Seeing your grade makes me so happy! I've really enjoyed the first two books in this series so I'm looking forward to reading this. Even though I don't like books dealing with alcoholism, I know LK won't let me down.

  5. Danielle ~ It is different from her other contemp series but I understand comparing them. I do think this series is getting better as is progresses. Hope you enjoy this one!

    Marg ~ I'm liking this series more and more but Kleypas' historicals will always be my favorites. :)

    Hils ~ It's different but like you said, it's Kleypas. :)

    Ames ~ If you enjoyed the first two, I'm sure you'll like this one. The alcoholism, IMO was handled well. Not taken too lightly but not too depressing either.

  6. It's interesting how Ms Kleypas never takes the easy way with her characters :) I enjoyed Rainshadow Road, but i have to say, Alex didn't impress me much in it... and the addition of magic, meh... However, I did like his interaction with Holly :)

  7. Nath ~ I didn't feel as though I knew Alex well before Dream Lake. Kleypas did well in showing the different sides of Alex and letting the reader in.

  8. The release of this one snuck up on me, too. With all that build up to Rainshadow Road there was nothing about this one. Weird.

    Anyway, I'm happy to see it didn't disappoint.