True Confessions…

Dream a Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Evidence (proof positive?) that I’m not a truly liberated reader: I’ll preface this review by stating that I read this book as part of a study of the romance genre. It’s professional development, and it’s good for you!

Yet I find, every time I read a romance novel, that I actually like them more than I care to admit. And this one, I liked even more than the usual. Here’s what made it stand out:
Of course, it features a strong woman and a strong man, and they despise each other from the get-go. Naturally. The thing that stood out for me is that the woman here is the down-on-her-luck widow of a crooked televangelist and mother of a timid young boy. On the face of it, it’s not the stuff romances are made of. Rachel’s desperate for work so she can earn money to take care of her son, and when she returns to the small southern town where she and her ex-husband resided (in the hopes of finding the fortune he left behind), she meets Gabe, a surly (but gorgeous) man who is attempting to revamp an old drive-in theater. She connives her way into a job, assisting him with the renovation. And sparks fly…

One other surprisingly delightful element of this novel is the rich and engaging cast of secondary characters. These folks are warm, realistically flawed, and—my gold standard: likeable.
This would explain why I found myself, more than once, standing and reading this book, truly intending to set it down—and completely incapable of doing so. Yes, I’ll be reading more of the books in the Chicago Stars series Ms. Phillips has created. And yes, you’ve just witnessed the newly-hatched addiction of a brand new romance reader.