When Dreams Come True
Have you ever put off writing something until the last minute and turned in your rough draft? Maybe it was promising, and maybe it had potential, but it still needed a lot of work. That, in a nutshell. describes When Dreams Come True. The problem is that what you are reading is the final draft, and the good parts of it don’t come close to making up for all the flaws.
The book starts out with a heroine who sounds like she might be interesting. As a child Eden was rescued off the streets by an exclusive madam who cares for her and educates her. She is accomplished in the all the acceptable graces as well as the more colorful ones, which she has learned by watching. A rich Asian man buys her for his harem, and she is shipped off to him. Before the ship gets very far, it encounters a storm. In the confusion, Eden manges to escape in a dinghy. She washes up on the shore in Cornwall, where she is found by Pierce Kirrier, the Earl of Penhallow.
Pierce has been raised by indifferent parents, and he is much closer to the servants than his family. His father left him penniless, but he has become a prosperous and self-made man. The villagers depend on him for their livelihood, but they also like him and want to see him happily married. They believe that Eden has been magically conjured up for him. He takes her home and cares for her. Eden is still terrified that her wealthy captor will find her, and she pretends to have amnesia so she won’t have to talk about her past.
Now comes the part of the story where they are supposed to fall in love. At least, that is what the author is telling us. The problem is that we never get to see any of the process for ourselves. Pierce’s mother is violently opposed to the match and tells him he shouldn’t marry a nobody who shows up on his doorstep and won’t trust him with the details of her past. Frankly, I agreed with her. Eden seems to have one thing going for her: her extraordinary beauty. There is nothing wrong with a beautiful heroine, but she ought to have some other quality that interests the hero. When Pierce falls in love with her for her beauty alone, he seems like less of a person himself.
There are several glaring inconsistencies. At one point the heroine mentions that they love to just sit and talk for hours. I kept thinking, “About what?” How do you talk for hours with someone who knows nothing about your past? Maybe if we as readers had been present for some of these conversations the couples’ love might have been more believable. Then at one point Eden walks into the village and visits the peasants, with whom she is on a first name basis. Again I wondered how this happened and why the readers weren’t included. Before that point there had been nothing in the story that suggested such an intimacy.
Then there are the aspects of the story that just seem wrong. Pierce is an Earl and all the local gentry are financially dependant on him. But they snub him because his mother was not born into the nobility. Huh? If they can’t be nice, why doesn’t he just ruin them? Then when Eden and Pierce first kiss, she mentions that kissing is one thing that was never part of her brothel education, because it was just too personal. This is an idea that sounds like it comes from the twentieth century…from the movie Pretty Woman!
Perhaps the most glaring flaw is that even the attraction between Eden and Pierce seems hard to believe. It is mentioned now and then, but again you never see it. There is one sort of passionate scene near the beginning, but the first love scene comes near the end of the book, after they are married. Since it includes lines like “Out of the tub, wench!” and “You are my life, my savior, my king,” it isn’t much of a payoff.
At this point I considered skimming the rest of the book, but it got a little better after that. Suddenly Eden seemed to get a personality, and the dialogue became more interesting. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late. The more interesting end just made me wonder why the whole book couldn’t have been written to match. Maxwell can write better books; I particularly enjoyed You and No Other. When Dreams Come True doesn’t approach that level, at least not without an extensive rewrite.