This book was actually a second read for me. I originally read the book when it came out under the title In Your Wildest Dreams. Something truly positive that I can say for the book is that, even though it has been close to four years since I read it, my memory of the book was still really good. There are some books I read and forget everything about as soon as I set it down but this one remained with me over the years. The story takes place in New Orleans and a portion of it is set out in the swamps. I have a definite partiality to all things New Orleans related so the swamp backdrop and the Cajun feel made this book stand out for me.
Stephanie has travelled from Chicago to New Orleans to find her prodigal sister. She knows that her sister has been working as an escort and hopes to save her from herself. She decides to pose as an escort in order to get information about her sister from some of the clients. During this venture, she meets Jake, a retired cop working as a bartender.
Jake quickly realizes that Stephanie is not really an escort and may be in over her head in the prostitution scene. He has to save Stephanie from an overly zealous man and thus gets wrapped up in her hunt for her sister.
Stephanie is my biggest dislike about Wildest Dreams . She really is very stupid. She never seems to consider that posing as a prostitute could be dangerous until she is on the verge of being raped. She continuously puts herself into questionable situations, in spite of Jake urging her to think things through. Although I liked the sweetness of her character, I couldn’t get on board with how thoughtless she was when it came to her own safety. She was, of course, sexually repressed up until meeting Jake, at which point the sexual chemistry explodes.
Jake’s character is great. He is a former cop and, due to the death of his wife, he left the force. He has made it his plan now to avoid getting too involved with people, although he cannot resist Stephanie. I loved the Cajun feel to his character and the little bits of French Creole that were thrown in. I also really enjoyed how he took in a teen runaway and helped her get back on her feet. I found Jake’s inner conflict over the death of his wife to be both believable and touching.
Wildest Dreams is, in my opinion, one of Blake’s more steamy books. Her current publications still have plenty of hotness, but have toned down the sensuality a little from these early titles. Stephanie and Jake heat up page after page, but the line between romance and erotica isn’t really crossed. I appreciated that, although the sex scenes were hot and frequent, there was still a sweetness maintained between the pair and all of their encounters carry deeper emotion.
I actually found myself enjoying Wildest Dreams more on this second read. I had forgotten how emotional the end of this book is. The conflict between Jake and Stephanie really reached me. Although I had spent a decent chunk of the book feeling pretty underwhelmed with Stephanie as a character, her hurt and attachment to Jake is believable. She has had a rocky past in all of her relationships, romantic or familial, and Jake rides in like a white knight to rescue her. It was totally understandable that she would be so drawn to him and want so badly for them to have a real relationship. Unfortunately, Jake hasn’t moved on enough from his marriage to make that happen.
The secondary storyline with Stephanie’s sister, Tina, is nothing that will really blow you away. I have seen a lot of books now tackle the trope of responsible boring sister versus the fly-by-night wild sister. This story fits that pretty well without any major twists to surprise the reader. I wouldn’t say that the sister storyline is enough to encourage someone to read the book. This really is more of a sexy love story than a suspense or thriller.
If you’re already a fan of Toni Blake’s newer works, you will enjoy Wildest Dreams as a nice filler in between new releases. This could also be the good choice for you if you are interested in a touching romance that is heavy on sex. Personally, I liked this even better on the second read than my first and, much like the first time, it made me want to run off to New Orleans for a vacation.