Dream Mountain somehow missed its mark. Though classified as a romance, it would have more aptly been called a novel of intrigue, with a romance or two thrown in for titillation. Regardless, it didn’t leave me with that “HEA feeling,” and that’s not the only problem.
Delaney Arlen encounters a man whom she mistakes for a bear rustling through her garbage. In her defense, it’s the middle of winter and the man is wearing an old, ratty bearskin he found in a cave. In an attempt to deter the “bear,” she shoots him with a shotgun full of rock salt. Maybe this is an accepted method of deterring bears, but I found it all a bit odd. Joe, the ultimately handsome but currently horribly unkempt and unshaven hero, is summarily knocked unconscious. Like any good heroine, Laney wrestles her big, burly man into the cabin and proceeds to nurse him back to health. Her nursing is complete with nice little touches like passing aspirin from her mouth to his mouth for his fever. She did this because he, thinking she was from the enemy camp, tied them both up with panty hose. Do you wonder how he was able to do that while incapacitated by rock salt? Me too.
Laney and Joe (aka Gareth Tremayne) soon proceed to cat fight their way into love. A little spat here, another spat there, a couple of near death experiences and it’s happily ever after. Some of of the problems I focused on were clichés while others were just strange. One cliché – the hero calls the heroine “Red” throughout the book because she has red hair. Something just plain odd, and the clincher for me in terms of describing the author’s prose – the hero thinks the heroine looks graceful while whisking eggs. It’s true; you can find that little gem on page 86.
Laney and Joe’s story could easily have been told in about one page or less, not counting the hot sex scenes, which weren’t bad. But as I mentioned earlier in my review, romance is not the true focus of the book, even though it does read “romance” on its spine. With so much intrigue and international wheeling and dealing, the romance comes across as a small sub-plot in the bigger picture. To make matters worse, there’s a secondary romance going on that had more potential and zip than the relationship between Laney and Joe. Unfortunately, that secondary romance is too sparse to be truly satisfying.
The intrigue centers around an alleged mother lode of a highly valuable mineral known as rhodium and an old played-out mine. Joe works for the US Geological division and is one of the good guys. He is hiding out from the bad guys who unsuccessfully tried to kill him before Laney shot him full of rock salt. The baddies are working on behalf of an international corporation that planned to revolutionize the world with something called the “orbiter” and needed the rhodium to do so. The mother lode turns out to be a bust and the bad guys are subsequently put out of business. While this is a premise with some promise, it didn’t integrate well with the romance, mostly because Laney and Joe never became a real couple in my reader’s mind. Their romance seemed contrived; they didn’t get together because they longed for one another; they were together because someone put them together and forced them to stay together. While this can be effective in some romantic suspense novels, I never got the sense that these were two people who would live ever after with one another. That’s not the type of feeling I hope for when I read a romance.
This book is the second in a trilogy and, to be fair, I think it would be helpful to have read the first book; this one was not a self-contained unit. The first chapter or so was a mish-mash of character introductions that would have made a lot more sense with a better frame of reference. But even with additional background, the romance and primary focus of this book would have remained unsatisfying for me – it just did not have enough depth. Maybe I would have looked at it differently if I’d had the personal experience of finding my true love out scrounging around the garbage can on a cold winter night. I think I’ve perhaps read the two-people-alone-together-in-an-isolated-winter-cabin just once too often, or maybe it’s because I’m from Minnesota and being snowed-in is romantic for all of an hour. At any rate, I did not enjoy this book. The intrigue, bearskins, and lack of romance just didn’t do it for me.