Catch a Dream
Catch a Dream by Mary Jane Meier features a heroine, Meg, who breaks up with her fiancé (who also happens to be her boss) while on a camping trip to Yellowstone. Only after he’s gone does she realize that her purse is still in his car. Now she has no man, no job, no money, no ID, no transportation, and she’s in the middle of the wilderness. She didn’t even bring a pair of long pants. That’s pretty typical of Meg.
The book also features a hero, Zack, whose wife died some time ago, but who is still haunted by her memory. He is so tormented by his own grief that he does little or nothing to help his small son deal with the loss of his mother. He’s also going broke, even though the means to make lots of money is sitting in his closet. He won’t use it to save himself from bankruptcy because it reminds him of his wife, and he won’t explain that to anyone because he doesn’t like to talk about it. That’s typical of Zack.
Zack, who is what you’d call the strong silent type, rescues Meg in Yellowstone and takes her back to his ranch. He silently endures her annoying nonstop chatter and his own guilt for lusting after her. He keeps her on, kind of like a stray cat, because she’s so good with his emotionally troubled son (unlike Zack, she actually talks to him) and because he lusts after her. It soon becomes clear that Meg is keeping a big secret from Zack, and when she learns about the contents of his closet, she starts on another secret. Zack and Meg will fall in love, and, in tried-and-true romance-novel fashion (not long after they have sex), Zack will discover the secrets and assume that she has betrayed him.
I guess it’s clear from my summary that I didn’t like either of these characters very much. He was too moody and snarly, and she was too bubbly and spunky. At one point, irritated by Meg’s constant talk, Zack thinks, “If he did try to silence her, he’d need more than a piece of duct tape. More like an entire roll.” That’s the kind of passage that really reflects badly on both protagonists.
I also don’t like Big Secret/Big Misunderstanding storylines. This one was annoying for all the usual reasons: it seemed like a totally artificial conflict that could have been cleared up with a few minutes of conversation. Even though there are some nice moments between Meg and Zack, especially toward the end of the book, there’s a constant pregnant silence that follows them around, filled with things they need to say to each other. I never believed that these two belonged together.
The thing that very nearly pushed this book over the edge for me was Zack’s mother-in-law, Winona. Win is a Native American. You can tell, because she calls Meg “paleface,” refers to Zack as “the chief on this ranch,” and peppers her conversation with wise old Indian sayings like this: “Add beauty to a contented teepee, and winter wind blows right through the buffalo skins.”
Silly me. And here I thought Tonto was dead. In my experience, people of Indian heritage no more spout aphorisms about teepees than people of Chinese heritage say “Ah, so” and repeat fortune-cookie Confucianisms. Some authors, notably Kathleen Eagle, can create characters who are identifiably Indian without making them sound like stereotypes from bad movies. Meier, unfortunately, does not have this talent. Almost every time Win opened her mouth I came close to hurling this book against a wall.
This is Meier’s first book, and I believe the author has some potential. Catch a Dream is well-written and there are turns of phrase here and there that are quite funny. But the problems with this book far overwhelm its entertainment value, and it barely escaped getting an F from me.