I went with an older Lisa Kleypas for my beach reading while on vacation. Or rather, on my trip – I have a toddler now, there is no vacationing for a long while. Where Dreams Begin is the story of Zachary Bronson, an incredibly wealthy commoner with a humble past and a rowdy reputation and Holly Taylor, a young widow and mother still mourning the deathJ of her husband three years prior. Holly attends a ball after years of mourning and ends up being kissed by a dark haired stranger (Zachary) who has clearly mistaken her for someone else. Neither party can get the kiss out of their minds. Holly finds herself yearning for a more exciting life; the comforts she once found in her dead husband’s family home are less helpful now. Zach Bronson wants a wife to help him gain acceptance with the aristocracy, and something about Holly has him turned upside down, though she is far more well-behaved than any other woman he’s been attracted to before.
This book was entertaining enough. I enjoyed the fact that we’re dealing with a widow rather than a never-married debutante. Holly is demure but honest, sad but hopeful, honorable but conflicted – all qualities that make her a little more well-rounded than some heroines, but nothing majorly new here. Zachary is a bit less innovative – he is a hero I have read in many romance novels, but he works. There isn’t really a lot that stands in the way of this couple, aside from worries over social standing and some dumb death-bed promises. In that way, their romance is a little frustrating because the obstacles are basically of their own making. Zach hires Holly (scandalous enough in its own right) to teach he and his family how to behave more respectably. The fact that she is willing to earn money and live with Zach in spite of the affect it will have on her reputation makes it harder to believe she would then stand in her own way of happiness over what it would look like to marry him. The death-bed promise we discover over halfway through the book is a little more of an obstacle but it feels like a half-hearted attempt to delay the sexy times. Which were sexy.
Zach and Holly make a good couple – we get to watch them have late night conversations and learn from each other, so their attraction is more than just physical. Side characters are nice enough, especially Elizabeth Bronson, Zach’s sister. Holly’s in-laws are pretty horrible and judgy, making it hard to believe they ever really loved her to begin with. Perhaps that’s just the time period and stuffy prudishness though. I didn’t really dislike anything major about this book, but I also wouldn’t consider it one of my favorite romances. It’s enjoyable enough for the beach, however, so it was worth checking out.