Dream a Little Dream

Susan Elizabeth Phillips
1998, Contemporary Romance
Avon, $7.99, 400 pages, Amazon ASIN 0380794470
Part of a series

Grade: B+
Sensuality: Hot

There are two reviews of this book.

Ever put a book down with the intention of finishing it and then just letting it sit there for weeks on end until finally, you tell yourself you're gonna finish the story, no matter what? Well, that's what I did with Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Dream A Little Dream and now I'm kicking myself that I didn't finish it weeks ago.

Dream is far different than the books preceding it in Phillips' football series in that it's much darker. Dream is about Cal Bonner's (Nobody's Baby But Mine) younger brother Gabe, who lost his wife and son in a car accident and who's unable to pull himself out of his grief. He's given up on his life and is now just putting in the days until he dies.

Rachel Stone, who used to be married to that horrible televangelist G. Duane Snopes, is now a widow and single mother (G. Duane obsconded with church funds and died in a plane crash). Rachel returns to the town of Salvation to try and make a home for herself and her son, and to find out what happened to all the money that disappeared when the plane crashed. She has nowhere else to go; her life is a shambles, she and her child are starving, and the good people of Salvation hate her. The Bonner boys hate her as well, and Gabe, well, he's wallowing in so much self-pity that the only thing he sees is that he doesn't want this woman or her little boy anywhere near him. Quite a set up, eh?

Dream will never be my favorite by this author, but it's better than I originally thought it would be and a fairly strong read. There were, however, some things that bothered me, beginning with Rachel's obsessive desire to provide for Edward to her own detriment. When she arrives in Salvation, Rachel's a desperate mother who's going hungry so that her child can eat. I can understand that - most mothers feel that way regarding their children. But the author went overboard so that all I could think was what would happen to Edward if she died from starvation?

And, why did everyone hate Rachel while no one hated G. Duane for the trouble he brought the town? Everything that had happened regarding their church was blamed on Rachel. The only friend she had, other than Gabe, was Kristy, Ethan's secretary. Ethan, who's Gabe's younger brother , is minister of the local Pentecostal church and all I can say is, so much for Christian charity. Here too, I thought the story line was very unrealistic. If Ethan was such a great practicing Christian, where was his forgiveness of Rachel's sins?

There were some wonderful, funny lines as only Susan Elizabeth Phillips can write, but there was not as much humor as I had hoped for. Obviously this was a much darker story line, but it could have been better balanced in tone. And, Gabe's inability to accept Rachel's son Edward bothered me. I don't think I've ever felt so sorry for such a little boy. It wasn't his fault that Gabe's son had died, but he sure felt like it was. I would have liked to have seen Gabe come around a little earlier in the story and wished he had had a more in-depth relationship with Edward. That poor little boy needed a father in his life; Gabe just took a little too long to see that for my liking.

And now for the good parts. I loved the relationship between Gabe and Rachel. Rachel could give as good as she got and there were times she let Gabe have it. When she walked in and said, "You're hiring me", I was cheering, "Go for the gusto, girl!". Gabe may not have wanted her and her son in his life, but they were going to be there anyway. Once he realized that, he tucked them under his wing and looked after them just as a hero should. He might not have thought of himself in those terms, but he truly was a knight in shining armor.

I loved that Gabe stood by Rachel. In his own quiet way, he gave her the moral support she needed to be able to deal with the people of Salvation. He was her protector, her only friend, and her lover, all rolled into one, and just how a good relationship should be. If nothing else, the hero and heroine were the best thing that ever walked into each others' lives and that really worked for me. The story kept picking up as I continued to read and I liked that. It seemed depressing at first but as I continued to read, I could see little bits of light at the end of the tunnel and when Gabe finally took his brothers to task for being so awful to Rachel, I was in the corner cheering Gabe had those two in a corner with their tails between their legs!

The author didn't give Ethan and Kitty's romance enough time or space - with Susan Elizabeth Phillips, I get a little greedy. Still, their relationship worked amazingly well in the context of the book, even though I could have shaken Ethan for being such a putz not only about Rachel but about Kristy too. The man was pathetic!

Now, although Susan Elizabeth Phillips has said that this is the last of the Chicago Stars books, I'm just wondering if, perhaps, somewhere down the road, she will give thought to writing Rosie and Chip's story because, you just gotta know, that there's one last story waiting to be told. Chip? Chip?? Who's Chip? Well, if you want to find the answer to that question, you're just going to have to read the book now, aren't you?

-- Deborah Barber

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