Daring to Dream by Nora Roberts
(Jove, $6.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-515-11920-2
***
As any Nora Roberts fan knows, many of her best books are part of a family series. Names such as O'Hurleys, MacGregors and Concannons have enthralled readers for years. Fans will be delighted that her newest book, Daring to Dream introduces a trilogy about three completely different women who were raised together.

Daring to Dream is Margo Sullivan's story. Raised in the mansion of the wealthy Templeton family who own a chain of international luxury hotels, Margo is the daughter of their housekeeper. At an early age, she establishes a life-long friendship with the Templeton's daughter, Laura, and with Kate Powell, a cousin adopted by the Templetons. These three young girls have an idyllic childhood at Templeton House on the California coast.

Although treated as a child of the house and given every advantage, Margo is desperate to have some fame and fortune for herself. Blessed with a striking beauty, she leaves home at the age of eighteen to model and enjoy a rich, self-indulgent, sybaritic lifestyle.

Ten years later Margo returns home publicly humiliated in a huge scandal, nearly bankrupt and without a job. Predictably, her old friends give her love and support in her decision to start her own business. Joshua Templeton, Laura's brother, is also there to assist and the attraction they have felt for each other for years soon develops into a heated passion.

Daring to Dream is a trademark Nora Roberts book -- well-written, entertaining, sexy and full of witty dialogue. (Note: much more risqué than I remember.) BUT...

I found it difficult to connect with the two main characters. Margo is vain, selfish and thoughtless. Josh is a pampered, playboy son of rich parents. (Sort of a Donald Trump but much better looking.) When Margo is suddenly thrust into such desperate straits, she has to rely on her old friends to bail her out of trouble.

Not many of us have friends capable of negotiating our way out of legal jams and lending us thousands of dollars. Even at the end of the book, I wasn't sure Margo had learned anything from her misadventures. (Darling, will you buy me this house and marry me?) I would have respected her more is she had resolved her problems by herself and shown some evidence of having become a self-sufficient, mature, responsible adult.

And I was disappointed to see the talented Nora Roberts throw in the oft-used, predictable misunderstanding between the hero and heroine toward the end of the book.

The good news is that Laura and Kate are both more sympathetic, engaging and likable characters and they will soon have their own stories. Kate's story will be published next in Holding the Dream in January, 1997.

--Dede Anderson


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