Berkley Sensation, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-425-26557-4
Historical Romance, 2013
Somewhere to Dream is linked to Under the Same Sky in that the heroines of the two books are sisters. Both have paranormal elements (the sisters have some ability to see visions) and there are some minor overlaps of the stories in both books, but on the whole, they each stand alone quite well. You can read my review of the previous book to get an idea of what happened to the heroine Adelaide Johnson and how she came to end up being cared for by the Cherokees.
Unlike her sister who took to the Cherokee life and culture like it’s the second coming of Earth’s Children, Adelaide is far less enthusiastic about her new “family”. She has a hard time seeing them as her family, as she’d seen savagery from both her people and the Cherokees, and now she feels like somewhere trapped between both worlds, not really belonging to either one. She also has visions, but unlike her sister’s, hers don’t seem to be useful at all. The one time she senses danger, she ends up sending the guy to his death. Oops.
That guy means to marry Adelaide, so when the dead guy’s brother Soquili joins a raid and ends up with a prisoner whom he decides (through means that I’m still not sure about) to contain the spirit of the dead guy, the tribe decides that prisoner Jesse Black is basically her betrothed. (You know, maybe I’m missing the point, but if Wahyaw’s spirit is going to be reborn somewhere else, won’t it make more sense for it to show up in a newborn or something?) Jesse hates all Native Americans, however, and there is going to be way before this cultural exchange program can bring him and Adelaide together for the happily ever after.
Somewhere to Dream is a huge missed opportunity – huge indeed, because unlike her Ayla Sue sister, Adelaide is a far more interesting character. She both fears and respects the Cherokees, so the author creates a very balanced portrayal of those people through the heroine’s point of view. This is good, because it makes the Cherokees feel more real – no Care Bear Dances with Wolves thing here. Okay, the author still retains the tendency to show the entire tribe to share the same hive mind of sorts, but I’d take what I can get. Adelaide feels like a real character, and there is some promise in having a misguidedly racist hero with a brutal childhood.
Unfortunately, the author then has those two exchanging retorts like they are a bunch of modern day teenagers who want so badly to emulate Joss Whedon. Okay, maybe a little immersion breaking won’t be that bad if the story is compelling, but the author proceeds to ignore the more interesting aspects of her story for standard “hero saves the heroine” drama. From the three books I’ve read by this author, I can say that she is very fond of having her heroines being dragged off by villains that appear out of the blue, without any build up, with the rather obvious use of rape, or the threat of rape, as an eye-rolling device to place the heroine in a vulnerable position and have the hero all puffed up in the chest as he comes to the rescue. The problem with this particular plot device is that it shows up in this story abruptly – heroine wanders off and oops, help! – and I get this feeling that the author must felt that she ran out of plot so… here comes the thugs for the heroine!
As a result of the reliance of heroine-in-distress melodrama to keep the story going. much of the good stuff here gets pushed to the background without being developed satisfactorily. Jesse hates his father… and yet he wants to go back to him. Why? One can argue that he may just do that if his father is the only “safe world” he knows, even if that man treats him like utter crap, but Jesse is such a weakly developed character here that I have no idea why he wants to go back to his father. I mean, he can just run away to anywhere else, right? But no, he goes to his father and then immediately starts telling me how much of an asshole that father is. Why be such a sucker for punishment?
Also, Jesse’s racism could be used as a foundation for some moving character growth, as he grows to see the Cherokees as people or something like that, but no, here, he’s so busy saving the heroine so it’s a case of love magically erasing any unpleasant prejudices in the hero. The heroine could have provided some dramatic tension as she tries to find her place in this world. but no, she’s too busy being in trouble and needing rescue. Love magically makes her feel at home anywhere and everywhere.
As I’ve said, it’s a shame how much of a squandered opportunity this is. Somewhere to Dream could have been a solid historical fiction thingy, but no, somehow, it was decided that I’d have loved this more if the story gets dumbed down fantastically by its midway point and the whole thing mutates into a one-dimensional “save her before they rape her” drama with love magically making everyone happy and perfect at the end of the day. Sigh.