Shortly after taking the bar exam, Cassidy – Cass – Walker is involved in a car accident that leaves her with two lingering challenges: she has trouble remembering details – “tasks, appointments, reminders, names”– but she can’t forget one big one – that her boyfriend was Devin Bloom. It’s not that she needs to forget Devin so she can move on from their relationship. It’s that all evidence suggests he’s an accident side effect and not an actual person. Then, ten months post-accident, she finds it: Blooms and Baubles, a small flower shop owned by . . . Perry Szymanski. She and Perry have A Moment, before Perry’s brother walks in. Low and behold, it’s Devin Szymanski – known to Cass as Devin Bloom. Soon Cass is wondering . . . how does she really know Devin, and does she actually want her “dream man” or is she more interested in the reality of Perry?
The beginning and ending of Dream On are solid B-grade material. The book gets off to a fast start, and Cass is, initially, an endearing and pleasant narrator. The final act proves compassionate to most of the characters – even one of the apparent ‘villains’ turns out to be nuanced – and the solution to the mystery of why Cass “dreamed of” Devin feels plausible while still managing to surprise. However, the middle is so utterly devoid of tension that for a few chapters it feels almost pointless to keep reading. The main problem is the fake love triangle, because there’s absolutely no question which of the two brothers is The One for Cass. Now, all great love stories have a sense of inevitability to them, but in those cases inevitable means ‘meant to be’. Unfortunately, the love story in Dream On feels inevitable as in ‘obvious’ and therefore ‘boring’. Devin is a guy working in real-estate development, who Cass constantly gets miffed at, while Perry is a florist who encourages her artistic passions and says things like “Being a florist means celebrating the interconnectedness between people and the brief bouts of beauty in a world with too much ugliness.” Guess who she ends up with?’
Cass’s professional development is as much a source of plot as the romance, and she and her career get their own HEA – albeit one that seems like the most fantastical element of the book. Throughout the story she struggles to balance familial pressure to be a big-law lawyer with her inclinations to nurture her artistic side. Rather than making deliberate decisions about her future, however, she takes a number of potentially professionally destructive (and a few undisputedly criminal – “trespassing, defacing private property”) actions, none of which have any negative consequences.
Ultimately, Dream On is a little like a dream: it’s slightly illogical and blends the obvious and the mysterious into an overall experience that’s occasionally interesting but not especially worth repeating.