Dream Country
by Luanne Rice, contemporary (2002)
Bantam, $6.99, ISBN 0-553-58264-X

"Yoohoo! True love! Where are you, true love? Come out, true love!"

Excuse me, I'm still caught up in the whole hilariously inane nonsense that is Dream Country. Sure, it's supposed to be some deep Hallmark movie type of stories, but I find the whole thing delicious baloney. It's filled with pop psychology of the moment, and frankly, there's nothing here a decent dressing down from Mama to that annoying daughter can't fix.

But it's a crime to scold our daughters today, isn't it? Mama Daisy Tucker will understand even if daughter Sage runs to the moon and gives birth to an elephantine Klingon. After all, Mama is a mess herself.

Once, Mama is a country girl that married Papa, a hardened country-and-cow-lovin' dude named James. Papa and Mama were happy. They had twin babies, whom they named Jake and Sage. Since Sage is a girl and Mama is a woman, they stay at home and tend the home fires for the men to come home to. Papa takes Jake, a small boy of three, out riding. Then - oh no! Jake disappears.

Mama and Papa were so sad. Mama divorced Papa and moved to town, leaving Papa behind to play stoic and Hemingwayish.

Today, Sage is sixteen, and pregnant. See, she and her boyfriend Ben, they have a pure love, so pure that their joining of body and souls must not be impeded by any adulteration like latex. I'm not joking - Sage says this herself. She must have read way too many bad romance novels. Now, she is predictably pregnant, and now she dreams of living with Ben in a ranch like her Papa and Mama did. I hope she is better with the kids than Mama and Papa were.

She runs away. Mama is worried. Papa is worried.

Ben dumps her. Instead of giving Ben a new a-hole, Sage weeps and understands. It's what he wants, see, and how come love doesn't last? Oh, oh, oh. Meanwhile, Papa waits at the ranch for Sage's arrival, but the train has problems! (Hallmark music, something violinish and fast please, because this is, like, so ohmigosh exciting.) Sage gets molested by horny pervert and gets rescued by a kind man, thanks to destiny! Soulmate! DestinyNMe4eva!

As for Jake... well, we can't have dead people spoiling this story, can we? Oops, did I give that away? Anyway, oh, the epilogue is so sweet! All this talk of destiny, signs, and soulmate as everybody stare into the horizon, it's like, oh, so soulmate-like!

True love! Where are you, true love?

I'm such a fangirl. Ooh, I think I will buy meself a pink dress with frilly, frilly ribbons and hang a home-made quill saying HOME IS WHERE THE COWBOYS ARE over my fireplace. Wait, I need a fireplace.

Anyway, hoo, back to the story. Papa and Mama fall in love again, Sage is happy, Ben moves on to a better future in corporate America (bad boy, doesn't he know that the Heartland is where all Wholesome Goodness is?), and Mama Giggles doze off dreaming of half-naked Hugh Jackman in spurs and chaps and whatever it is that cowboys wear.

Hoo boy.

Rating: 74

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