Dream Lake (by Lisa Kleypas)

I hadn't heard of Lisa Kleypas until a few months ago, when I was sent her novel 'Rainshadow Road' for review by The Bookbag.  I liked it, so was delighted to see its sequel on the shelves recently.

'Dream Lake' is in fact the third in the series of books about three brothers brought up in a somewhat dysfunctional home. It's not necessary to have read the earlier books - this one stands alone - but may make it more enjoyable, as there are quite a few minor characters who have little relevance to the plot, but who were more major in one of the earlier books.

Zoë is a very attractive and talented baker, who's had a hard time with men and has become wary. Alex is an arrogant, aggressive guy who drinks too much. However, he is also a talented builder, and is employed to work on an old cottage which Zoë and her elderly grandmother are going to move into.  Perhaps predictably, there's a very strong attraction between Alex and Zoë, despite their apparent unsuitability.

Emma, the grandmother, is a nicely done character. She has the beginnings of dementia, and is sensitively portrayed. I liked her very much. I should also mention the Ghost, who appears right at the  beginning of the story, invisible to everyone but Alex. He is confused about his past, with only the faintest of memories, but gradually discovers who he is, through the course of the book.

While I don't generally like paranormal stories, the ghost part of this book was a very enjoyable read. He is, ironically, the most realistic character in the novel. Unfortunately I didn't feel that either Alex or Zoe were consistent - Alex is a great deal nicer and more chivalrous than his reputation would suggest, and is particularly good with the elderly Emma. Zoë is more outgoing and confident than we are led to believe, too - oddly pushy when it comes to Alex.

The author is American and the novel set in the US, but other than odd references to places, I kept forgetting. It certainly isn't intrusively American.

The writing is good, well-paced and interesting, let down by some crudity in language, and some unnecessarily detailed bedroom scenes towards the end. Little is left to the imagination, which is a pity as it means that I will hesitate before recommending it to some of my friends who might otherwise have enjoyed it.

Overall, I'm glad I read it. If you don't mind a couple of explicit scenes and enjoy light women's fiction, it would make good holiday reading. Available in paperback on both sides of the Atlantic, and also in Kindle form.

You can also read my longer review of 'Dream Lake' at The Bookbag. 

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