My absolute least favorite of the Dream Man series and it is mostly because of the heroine.
When reading romances, I need
to like the heroine. For me, the strength of the book largely rests on how I feel about her. A great heroine will outweigh a bad hero. The reverse however is not true. And that is what happened here. Mitch was an all-time fabulous hero. A stand-up guy right out the gate. A+ hero material. He was totally wasted on Mara.
Mara annoyed the ever-lovin' shit out of me. She had serious self esteem issues and as you read the book, you understand why. But holy-granola, those issues consumed her and the book to an unhealthy degree. Since the book was told mostly in first person, we were always in Mara's head living through her esteem issues. A lion's share of the early part of the book was about her utter belief that Mitch was too good for her.
There was a point when I lost count of how many of her sentences when she was in Mitch's presences were just 'Um...' or 'Uh...' He rendered her speechless. She was too overawed by him to be in any way an effective character. I was constantly wondering what the heck he saw in her? Around him she had the personality of a noodle. I guess she was hot.
Not only that, but her personal esteem issues tended to bleed out and became the fulcrum that powered her opinions of other people as well. Exasperating.
Even though I have only read three of Kristen Ashley's books, I am finding that she has many strengths that appeal personally to me as a reader. She creates dialogue, supporting characters and situations that simply draw the reader in and does not let go.
For instance, I love the fact that she doesn't write about the very wealthy. Even though some of her characters may have a lot of money they don't feel rich. They feel very, very middle-class or very blue collar or in some cases, just like with Mara's family, just plain old distastefully, down-troddenly trashy. I think this may be one of the reasons I have come to like her books. I also need to mention her dialogue. It isn't 'readerly' dialogue by any means. You know, that kind of dialogue you become used to reading because that is how writers write dialogue? Well, KA's characters don't talk that way. And despite the fact that they drop their 'g's at the end of many words (a personal pet peeve of mine) I think their dialogue sounds the way people in her world actually would talk.
I use the term 'compulsively readable' when I can't think of of any other way to describe what it is that creates a hook for a particular book. And this is what these books are.
But I can't help but also recognize what also seems to be a recurring weakness in these books either. The story sometimes lacks control. Or rather it spins out of control. Mara needed to have her epiphany that her world view was really messed up much earlier than she did. AS it was, it wasn't til the last quarter of the book that she realized her reactions were out-of-sync. But by that time the damage was done and Mara was already a character I simply couldn't enjoy. There were some areas of repetitiveness that really needed to go as well.
The other thing that took me out of this book was the moments of head hopping. This book written is a first person (Mara's) POV. Yet there were a few times we went got a 3rd person POV for Mitch and one for Billy (the young cousin Mara adopts). I didn't feel the POV switches were necessary. We didn't need to go into Billy's head to understand what he was feeling because later on Mara copped to it and had pretty much figured it out herself. We didn't need Mitch's POV to understand how he'd feel with Mara in danger. It just jarred me.
And finally, I am pretty neutral on the whole Epilogue vs. no epilogue issue. But this book's epilogue was just a bit much. Sickly sweet.
So I am chalking this one down in the lose column. However I am looking forward to the next one because it has Tack as the hero and I find him interesting.