Dream Lover by Stacey Keith Release Date: July 3, 2018 Publisher: Lyrical Shine Book #3 in the Dreams Come True series Number of Pages: 196 Kindle Edition Source: ARC from Net Galley Contemporary Romance M/F Rating: NC-17 Read 6/17/18 to 6/18/18
From the outside, this is a story of a good girl from the right side of the tracks and a bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, girl realizes her preconceived ideas of “the wrong side” are incorrect and he’s actually never done all the nasty things the rumor mill claims, they live happily ever after.
Nope! Not this story. The author could have easily told such a story and made it extremely entertaining. But she pushed some boundaries instead. When reading any genre, so often the bad boy isn’t really a bad boy. He may be rough around the edges, but most of his persona is rumor and innuendo (think Patrick in 10 Things I Hate About You). In this story, Brandon has actually done the bad things. That’s not to say he’s a bad person, although he can be, but he’s lived a rough life and has done things that are not always looked upon kindly to make ends meet. He loves his younger brother, Matthew, and feels fiercely protective of him. But again, he’s not going to play by the rule book if it comes to protecting his brother…he’ll do what needs done.
April really is a “good girl”. Watching her older sisters go through some difficult times when they were young, she always felt she needed to stay on the straight and narrow. Not only to keep from giving her parents more grief, but so she could protect herself from pain and heartbreak. Brandon sees in April what nobody else seems to see…she’s a butterfly trapped in her cocoon. It’s not others that keep her there, it’s all of her own doing. She just cannot admit that she craves to do things differently. In fact, she imagines judgement from her parents and best friend so decides over and over to keep things to herself instead of facing that judgement…which she is absolutely wrong about anyway. It’s like she has put herself on a pedestal that she can’t climb down from.
Ms. Keith is an ace at writing the intense emotional scenes. When the boiling point comes between April and Brandon and he admits his attraction, I was gutted. I was so mad at Brandon (again, the author had him do something pretty crappy that in the hands of another author he wouldn’t have done after meeting the heroine) but was so scared right along with him that April would turn her back on him forever. It was if I could physically feel the gut-punch April must have been feeling at that time.
Brandon may be rough around the edges and have a checkered past, but when it comes to those he loves he goes all in. He is so devastatingly sweet with April and really shows his soft caring side with her. I loved watching April blossom when she started speaking her truth and standing up for herself. I particularly appreciated her discussions and thoughts about her virginity and seeing the different way it was addressed by different people in her life.
One of the downfalls of falling in love with an author that doesn’t have a huge back library is having to wait for each new book to be published without having older works to dive into. But I’m starting to think the upside is feeling like I’m taking a journey with the author and getting to watch her talent grow. I highly recommend this story and all of her other books she’s published. You do not have to read the first books in this series to enjoy this one, but they are also wonderful so why not?
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**