Impossible Dreams is a book that could easily have been a memorable read, had it only undergone some subplot and secondary character pruning. Written with subtle humor and stirring sensuality, and containing emotionally insecure characters, the story showed much promise. But sadly, it became bogged down with an excess of less interesting material.
Maya Alyssum’s free-spirited lifestyle takes an unexpected turn when her older sister Cleo is thrown in the slammer on drug charges. Maya, heavily pregnant by a musician who is long gone, leaves California with her meager belongings and heads to South Carolina to care for her nephew and to keep Cleo’s failing curio business afloat. She spends her afternoons doing what she really loves and runs an after school program for young children. Her dream is to become the founder of a school where children can find the love and acceptance that she never received as a child growing up in foster homes. She’s found the funding, and just when her dreams are on the brink of becoming a reality, Axell Holm walks into her life with the devastating news that her school is in the way of a proposed highway.
Axell is the owner of the local watering hole and is a respected city council member. He visits the flighty teacher intending only to warn her of the mayor’s plans. Since the death of his wife, Axell’s young daughter Constance has closed herself off from the world. Maya’s after-school program is the only thing that she enjoys and he’d like to see the school succeed, if only for Constance. Axell never intended to get caught up in Maya’s life, but the moment he sets eyes on her, his protective instincts kick in and he becomes hopelessly enmeshed in her problems.
Several well connected people are out to get Maya and Axell, and before long she is homeless, both their businesses are in jeopardy, and they fear losing custody of the children. In order to solve the mess, Axell proposes a marriage of convenience and Maya reluctantly accepts. But because Axell believes he is one of those emotionally dead guys and Maya dreams of finding her true love, bliss doesn’t happen over night. They must work at this new odd relationship that neither really wants, and overcome past hurts and insecurities.
This aspect of the book works beautifully. Being under the same roof forces them to work together, to get to know each other, and to develop a strong sensual attraction that both try hard to deny. Maya brings out the emotions buried within Axell without even trying, and Axell’s conservative personality is exactly what flaky Maya needs in her life. As they slowly begin to trust each other they develop a fun banter. And when they realize they are in love it is utterly sweet and entirely believable.
Children in romances don’t bother me (unless they’re of the annoying variety) but those who prefer to avoid them should be warned that there are two little young-uns and one newborn baby who play a big role in this story and set the stage for some tender scenes. There are also lots of pesky secondary characters popping in and out who do little more than cause trouble for the couple. Things happen at a sometimes-dizzying pace and although the relationship development was more than decent, it was difficult for me to stay emotionally involved with the lead characters while so much else was going on. As a result, this book was far too easy to put down.
If novels filled to bursting with inner and outer conflict work for you, and big-hearted, ditzy heroines and protective alpha males with marshmallow centers are your thing, I have a strong suspicion you’ll enjoy spending a few hours with Maya and Axell as they turn their Impossible Dreams into a reality.