Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas

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Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas

Buy Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Fairhead
Reviewed by Sue Fairhead
Summary: Featuring a likeable and rather confused ghost, a delightful elderly lady, and two not-quite-believable young people who fall for each other... mostly enjoyable light reading.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 374 Date: August 2012
Publisher: Piatkus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780749953980

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Dream Lake is the third book in a series about three brothers who grew up in a somewhat dysfunctional home. This one focuses on Alex, youngest of the three, who is a brilliant designer and builder. Unfortunately, we’re told, he’s also angry at the world, arrogant, and aggressive. He’s a very heavy drinker, too.

Slightly to my surprise, however, the story opens with a ghost. Not, thankfully, a spine-chilling or vengeful one, but a somewhat confused ghost who doesn’t know who he is, or why he is stuck in an old house in Rainshadow Road. He observes Sam - the middle brother, who lives there - and isn’t too keen on Alex, who calls in now and again... until he discovers that Alex alone can see and hear him. And then, unexpectedly, the ghost finds that he can leave the house - but can’t leave Alex.

Meanwhile, a rather stunning baker called Zoë - a sweet and kind girl, who works for her cousin - falls head-over-heels for Alex, who is commissioned to work on a derelict house that she is going to live in with her elderly grandmother. Alex finds Zoë extremely attractive, but he doesn’t want to hurt her - and knows that he is bad news where women are concerned.

There are quite a few characters in this book, which would probably have been a bit overwhelming if I hadn’t read the second in the series a few months ago. ‘Dream Lake’ stands alone - the story features the ghost and Alex, primarily, and the main characters from the other book are minor in this one. The back story is narrated rather cleverly, I thought, by the ghost. Perhaps the excess people are unnecessary to this book; most of them appear rather two-dimensional as they’re not central to the plot, but I quite enjoyed the feeling of catching up with old friends.

I have to say, I very much liked the ghost. It’s ironic that he is, perhaps, the most realistic, well-rounded character in this novel. Zoë’s grandmother Emma comes a close second. I liked her enormously. Her growing confusion with the onset of dementia is sensitively portrayed, and her sense of humour shines through.

However, I didn’t feel I could entirely believe in either Alex or Zoë, which was a pity as their story is central to the book. Alex isn’t shown as unpleasant as he is supposed to be. Everyone talks about him being aggressive to women; apparently he has a history of violence and worse. He drinks far too much to blot out his depression, but then turns up for work reliably every day. He is oddly chivalrous towards Zoë, and remarkably good with her grandmother. When he finally realises just how close he is to alcoholism, he decides to cure himself... which is encouraging, but not very believable.

As for Zoë, she’s supposed to be sweet and a bit naïve, somewhat scared of high-testosterone men, due to bad experiences in the past. But she always looks stunning and sexy, dressed and made up perfectly... despite working in a kitchen. Nor does she make any attempt to veer away from Alex, who should theoretically be her worst nightmare.

Of course I had to suspend belief somewhat to follow the ghost story that runs through the plot; for some reason, though, that was easier to do than to accept the inconsistencies in major characters. Still, I managed it, and read the book in just three days. The writing is good, the pace just right, the subplots interesting. Clearly there was going to be a love story, and the tension-building between Alex and Zoë works well. Unfortunately the author forgot to shut the bedroom door, and when they finally get together the details are overly intimate.

Giving a star rating to this book is surprisingly difficult. I would probably allocate five stars for the ghost story, despite not being a fan of the paranormal in general. However three stars would be more appropriate for Alex and Zoë’s romance, with their oddly inconsistent personalities. That gives an average of four, but I am then knocking off another half star due to the unnecessarily explicit scenes towards the end. If you like reading about that kind of thing, feel free to add it back on again when considering this book.

Despite all the niggles, I enjoyed the book overall - it was hard to put down by the last chapters - and am grateful to the publishers for sending to The Bookbag. It would make good holiday reading for people who enjoy light women’s fiction that’s a little different from normal.

I would recommend reading Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas prior to this, and perhaps the first in the series - Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor - if you can find it. If you like this kind of fiction with a somewhat unusual extra strand, then I would also highly recommend Ten Years On by Alice Peterson.

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Buy Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas at Amazon.com.


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