In the past, I have really enjoyed Elizabeth Lowell’s books. A Woman Without Lies is one of my favorite romances and I’ve enjoyed the Donovan family series as well. Unfortunately, Beautiful Dreamer didn’t live up to my expectations.
Hope is a woman who dreams of water. She needs water for her ranch or else she’ll have to give up the place and the land it’s on. It’s the only place she’s ever felt at home and to give it up would like giving up breathing for her. The place belonged to her father and trying to make it work killed him and tore him and her mother apart. Because of this, Hope has sworn to never love anything except the land.
Rio is a man who finds water for people. Part Native American, Rio feels he has never fit into white society and has chosen to live a nomadic existence. Both Hope and Rio are wounded people; they are wounded not only by circumstance but they also have people in their past who “done them wrong.” For Rio, it’s a woman who would not have his children because of his Native American Blood. For Hope, it’s another rancher named John Turner who treated her very badly when she was young.
When Rio sees Hope for the first time, he knows he wants to help her. He can see she has a dream – as he has none of his own, he wants to help. It’s one of the major themes in the book and it gets hammered home again, and again, and again. Hope is desperate for water to keep her ranch afloat and realizes that Rio could be her last chance. The two are immediately attracted to each other and spend some time trying not to give in to it while Rio looks for water. Will he find it? Won’t he find it? Will he stay with Hope? Won’t he stay with Hope? Only time will tell.
While Hope and Rio were nice enough, I found them a little cardboard as characters. Hope was a little too much the “untouched woman” while Rio was too much “the stoic outsider.” Both of these stereotypes are a little time-worn. Also, John Turner, the man who wronged Hope, was very much a caricature; he was so evil that he was hard to believe. I understand he had to be a proper villain in order for Hope’s wariness of men to come across, but I couldn’t help rolling my eyes whenever he came on the scene. He came off as more of a joke than anything else. You remember the “You must pay the rent!” type villain, twisting his mustache and leering at the heroine? This is what he reminded me of!
Also, I really got bored with all the descriptions of wells, and rock and how to find water. Ms. Lowell does her research and generally, I really enjoy all the information she puts in her books, but in this case, I just was not interested at all. There’s also a good deal of repetition in the book. We get a lot of the same information about Hope, her family, and Rio over and over again, and it gets a little wearisome after awhile. I did find myself groaning at one point when we got the same information about how Hope’s parents loved each other but her father wouldn’t leave the land and her mother couldn’t live on the land. Enough already!
Still, Ms. Lowell is a wonderful writer and a not-so-great book by her is still better than a good book by some. If you are a fan of Ms Lowell’s you might enjoy this one or like me, you may be disappointed. I’d read one of her other books instead or at least wait for this one to come out in paperback.