by Kai Andersen, contemporary (2006)
StarDust Press, $4.98, ISBN 978-981-05-7570-0
Perchance To Dream is supposed to be a modern-day take on the whole Romeo And Juliet thing, but it never recovers from the presence of the hero who initially behaves just a little better than a very stupid Neanderthal caveman. Heath Sullivan isn't an alpha male, he's like that annoying creep who just won't know when to stop coming on so strong. He also jumps to all kinds of annoying conclusions about the heroine without much effort. It's hard to appreciate a romance novel when the hero will look so much better with a brain concussion. The hero sets the pace for the rest of this story: watch out for over-the-top characters bringing on the drama!
Heath and the heroine Erica Langdon are from feuding families but they meet during a masquerade ball-cum-Entrepreneur of the Year award ceremony and I suppose sparks fly. Although in this case "sparks" refers to Heath calling Erica a lesbian because she doesn't immediately drop her pants and bends over for him and then pawing at her with the grace of a drunken buffoon in a backseat grope. Apparently Erica sees fireworks from the masterful caresses of such an overpowering male. Later when revelations of their identities come out, he'll accuse her of being a lying tease. In this story, Heath pretty much barges forth and steamrolls over anyone to get his way. The feud isn't much of a feud when all Heath has to do is to forcefully muah-muah Erica and she'll all putty in his Neanderthal arms.
I don't know what to say. It is one thing to write about alpha males, but Heath here starts out completely devoid of charm. He can be obnoxiously rude to the point of offensiveness and he often charges forward with little regard to what anyone else thinks. He wants Erica, she's his, so he'll take her. Once he's had her, he suddenly morphs into a gentleman in a way that I find really hard to believe unless UFOs are involved in the sudden transformation. Even when Heath is being a gentleman, there is no shortage of snarling, shouting, and other exaggerated histrionics from the Langdon and Sullivan clan as they do their best to enact what seems like an even more over-the-top parody of a typical day in The Bold And The Beautiful. The way these two clans reconcile is just as melodramatic, complete with dashes to the hospitals and "Omigosh, tell me he won't die!" drama.
Apart from the misstep with Heath at the first quarter of this story, Kai Andersen's Perchance To Dream tries to get a few things done right. The author addresses the feud between the Sullivans and the Langdons in a reasonable manner, especially considering how exaggerated the antics of the people involved in the feud can be, but the story always falls frustratingly short of doing it well. This is due to a combination of several factors such as too much telling at times when showing would have been better and overly simplistic use of pop psychology to clear up long-standing issues. Perhaps if the author has spent more words fleshing out her characters and the emotions experienced by these characters instead of glossing over things by telling me this and that instead of showing me, Perchance To Dream would have been a better read. As it is, there are more over-the-top antics in this story than anything else. This makes Perchance To Dream a story with some camp appeal, I suppose, but I'd prefer reading a good love story to a so-so love story where the campy fun is at the author's expense.
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