St. Martin’s Griffin / August 7, 2012 / $10.19 print, $9.99 digital
Dream Lake takes readers once again to the exquisite setting of Friday Harbor, and tells the story of Zoe Hoffman, an innkeeper who has all but given up on love. She’s a gentle, romantic soul, but has been so hurt in the past that she dare not trust her heart with anyone. Especially not Alex Nolan. Alex is the most haunted of all the Nolan brothers. He drinks to keep his demons at bay and not only has he given up on love, he has never, ever believed in it. Zoe and Alex are oil and water, fire and ice, sunshine and shadow. But sometimes, it takes only a glimmer of light to chase away the dark. Dream Lake is classic Lisa Kleypas: romantic, powerful, emotional, and magical.
Dream Lake is the story of Alex Nolan, the third and most damaged of the Nolan brothers, and Zoe Hoffman, lush and gorgeous and uncomfortable with her beauty, who is hiding from a failed marriage working at her cousin Justine’s bed and breakfast.
These characters are supported by Zoe’s grandmother, succumbing to dementia and the ghost of the man she loved. But I will leave them for you discover when you read this book (and you should).
What I want to talk to you about here is the vibrant, sensual description that imbues Dream Lake with life. Let’s start with Alex’s first glimpse of Zoe.
She was like something out of a vintage magazine ad, a blond pinup girl with hiar bouncing in very which-way curls. Nature had been spendthrift with her, bestowing more beauty than one person was meant to have. But she stood with the vaguely apologetic posture of a woman who’d always received the wrong kind of attention from men.
This visual impression of Zoe is quickly followed up with other senses as Zoe offers Alex one of the muffins she’s just baked.
The first bite was light and tender, a crisp dissolve of streusel on pillowy cake. His tongue encountered the tang of orange zest and the dark liquid zing of blueberries. Each bite brought a new shock of sweetness. He forced himself to eat with restraint, to keep from wolfing it down. How long had it been since he’d really tasted anything?
Thus begins the seduction of Alex Nolan through an unintended onslaught on all of his senses. Although Alex resents his response to Zoe’s presence and her cooking, he cannot help fantasize about her – a fantasy as sensual as the reality.
He imagined himself undressing her slowly, revealing extravagant pale curves. He would nuzzle into the arc of her neck and tease shivers from her body... taste her blushes with his tongue.
When Zoe goes to visit her hospitalized grandmother, the change and the sadness is also a sensual description.
Zoe’s throat went tight as she leaned over to kiss her grandmother. “Hi, Upsie.” Emma usually smelled like L’Heure Bleue, the powdery, flowery perfume she had worn for decades. Now her scent was jarringly medicinal, antiseptic.
And when Zoe holds her grandmother’s hand her fingers are “a cool, loose bundle.”
While Zoe knows that Alex is trouble, she not immune to his attraction.
Striking, unsettling, his features austerely perfect, his eyes bright as if lit with the last spare voltage of his humanity. He looked thoroughly disillusioned, everything that had been tender and hopeful in him now crushed into diamond hardness.
Even depression (in this case, Zoe’s ex-husband’s) is expressed in sensual terms.
“A month. I can’t eat, can’t breathe, can’t sleep. I’ve even lost my sense of smell and taste.”
When Alex talks about sex with his ex-wife as a convenience, Zoe calls it “swallop.”
Something reconstituted. Always terrible. Like dried potatoes, or processed canned meat, or powdered egg product.
I have pages of notes on the description in this book and I want to keep displaying them for you, for Lisa Kelypas’s use of language and the senses is nothing short of breathtaking. But I will let you discover some of that for yourself.
However, I want to take a little time to talk about what happens when Zoe and Alex finally come together.
He reached for her, his hands closing lightly around her arms. The feel of her skin against his palms, the texture of her flesh, sent a thrill of heat through him, which, in light of the circumstances, was nothing less than depraved. His hand came to the side of her face. Her cheek was cool and plush, like the sepals of a white orchid. He felt his senses opening to take her in, the incredible lush delicacy of her. She smelled like crushed flowers, a dry and innocent scent, and he wanted to open her shirt and breathe it directly from her skin. He wanted to press his lips against the wild pulse in her throat and stroke it with his tongue.
Oh, my god!
And Zoe’s response to Alex is no less sensual or electrifying.
He settled a hand on her back, the warmth of his palm sinking through the thin fabric of her T-shirt. Zoe closed her eyes. After a moment, she felt Alex’s arm slide across her shoulders. He was big and warm, his body practically radiating heat. A pleasant sun-bleached, faintly salty smell clung to him.
I really could go on and on. Zoe romances Alex with patience and food. Alex romances Zoe with quiet and strength. At every turn in this novel, we are confronted by the senses, by how they describe both the characters and their growing relationship. Until
He seemed determined to pull in every sensation and make it last forever. Neither of them was rational, there was no room left for thought. Only for feeling. Only for wanting.
Oh, just go get this book. You will not regret it.
Stay tuned to H&H’s Lisa Kleypas Collection in the coming weeks as we count down to the release of Dream Lake with more special content.
Myretta is the co-founder and current manager of The Republic of Pemberley, a pretty big Jane Austen web site. She is also a writer of Historical Romance in which she creates her own historical hunks. You can find her at her website, www.myrettarobens.com and on Twitter @Myretta.