Formats available: ebook, paperback, audiobook
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Blue Heron #4
Length: 480 pages
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Date Released: September 30, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository
Emmaline Neal needs a date. Just a date—someone to help her get through her ex-fiancé’s wedding without losing her mind. But pickings are slim in Manningsport, New York, population 715. In fact, there’s really only one option: local heartthrob Jack Holland. Everyone loves Jack, and he won’t get the wrong idea…. After all, Jack Holland would never actually be interested in a woman like Em. Especially not with his beautiful ex-wife creeping around, angling to reunite ever since he rescued a group of teens and became a local hero.
But when the wedding festivities take an unexpectedly passionate turn, Em figures it was just one crazy night. Jack is too gorgeous, too popular, to ever end up with her. So why is she the one he can talk to about his deep, dark feelings? If Em is going to get her dream man, she’ll have to start by believing in him…
Very much like the initially fake marriage in book 2 in this series, The Perfect Match (reviewed here) the romance in In Your Dreams is kicked off by the strong and quite natural desire to show one’s ex that one has SO gotten over the breakup–especially if one hasn’t.
Emmaline Neal receives an invitation to her ex-fiance’s wedding back home in Malibu. Some of us might just throw it in the trash and have a private pity party, but Em knows that reaction isn’t going to work for her. Well, it might work for her, personally, but her parents are still friends with the erstwhile groom and his family, and they will expect her to come.
Not just that, but both Em’s parents are psychologists. They will analyze her (badly and incorrectly) if she does come, and do more and worse if she doesn’t. All their messages about what she should and shouldn’t do with her life and her relationships would make any adult child flee to the opposite end of the country.
Her parents are in Malibu, and Em is one of two Deputy Police Officers in Manningsport, NY. Just about as far across the continent as she could get.
So she needs a date for the wedding, and doesn’t have one. After a certain amount of persuasion and lots of people taking care of her business for her, Em ends up going to the wedding with Jack Holland. Jack is handsome, amiable, and every woman in Manningsport’s perfect date to any function. He is NOT the town bicycle, he’s a perfect gentleman about all of this. It just gets him away from his loving but slightly intrusive family.
Jack is the youngest of the Hollands, and we’ve seen most of his family’s story in The Best Man (review), The Perfect Match and Waiting on You (review). The story we see in flashbacks is Jack’s late marriage to the extremely high-strung Hadley, and Jack’s incredible act of heroism that has left him with an untreated (let’s face it, Jack isn’t willing to acknowledge it) case of PTSD.
Em doesn’t want to go with Jack because she likes him just a little too much. She neither wants him to see her at her worst, nor does she want to further explore the crush she has on him.
But when their crises run into each other at the wedding, they decide (not exactly decide, more like mutually exploit) to temporarily forget their problems by having one really hot night together.
Jack wants more. Em wants to forget it ever happened, which is impossible. But she refuses to believe that Jack wants her as more than anything but a fun diversion. His ex is back in town, and she’s chasing him with every “helpless female” weapon in her arsenal.
Jack is a sucker for a woman he can rescue. And Em, the very competent police officer, is not a woman who regularly needs rescuing–or ever wants to be.
Escape Rating B+: As with most of the Blue Heron series, the author tells the love story in the present day while using flashbacks to show the trauma that both characters have suffered in the past that makes them right for each other; even when they both use the scars from that same past to push the other away.
Em’s memories of her relationship with her ex are particularly heartbreaking. They were childhood sweethearts, the only two not-perfect kids in their Malibu high school of perfect-bodied beautiful children with important Hollywood parents. Em had a stutter and her ex was the only “fat kid” in the school. They bonded over not being perfect, and always being the last kids picked for everything.
When he finally starts to lose all the weight he’s accumulated, her ex loses everything that made him who he was, and restarts his life with his trainer. Even worse, when he’s featured in People Magazine he trashes Em in print. It’s not just heartbreaking, it’s downright devastating.
There was some codependence there, he didn’t like it when Em figured out how to stop stammering, so he started getting back at her; or it felt that way to me.
Jack is the Manningsport golden child. He’s always been perfect, and he always comes to everyone’s rescue. The incident that causes his PTSD is tragic but understandable. And the aftermath affects the story deeply.
He has to convince Em that she’s not just a way of getting him through the nightmares, and he finally has to get his ex out of his life. His inability to see through Hadley went on just a bit too long.
But it was terrific to catch up with the Hollands and all the wonderful people in Manningsport. I can’t wait to see what happens next!
Kristan is giving away a copy of In Your Dreams to one lucky U.S. commenter.