Bed of Roses

Home at Last

Imagine Love

A Midnight Clear

Sisters & Secrets

Island of Dreams by Katherine Stone
(Warner, $23.95, G) ISBN 0-446-52182-5
Island of Dreams is the spin-off of A Midnight Clear. After reading Ellen’s review of A Midnight Clear, I'm gratified to know that I'm not the only one who seems bewildered by Katherine Stone’s writing.

Imagine standing in the middle of a four way intersection. You have four obvious choices and from each main street there are secondary streets. It’s easy to lose your way. That’s how I felt reading Island of Dreams. Two main characters and two very strong secondary characters vie for your attention, with their assorted stories that mesh in a conclusion that offers no surprises. If six degrees are what separates most of us, these people have narrowed that number.

Pierce Rourke is an incredibly talented architect who used to be an incredibly talented prosecutor. We first meet Pierce as a youngster when his father commits suicide, leaving him in the care of a wealthy, loving family. The adult Pierce has no room in his life for committed relationships...until he meets the new librarian at his niece’s school.

Ana Finch, the librarian who has caught Pierce’s interest, knows that she can't have any kind of committed relationship. Ana is afraid that she'll die from a genetically inherited disease, the kind that killed her mother at age thirty-five. She has what she considers a ticking time bomb in her head. Meeting and caring for Pierce only reinforces her desire to remain unattached. She won't subject him to the misery that is in her imminent future.

A secondary but very strong love story focuses on Giselle Trouveau and Garak McIntyre. Giselle is a glass artisan who works with Pierce. She’s also connected to Ana in a way that won't be explained for most of the book. Giselle met Garak three years ago in Venice and spent a day with him that she’s never forgotten, although she hasn't seen him since.

Now Garak is heading up the investigation to find Grace Quinn, a young woman who’s been missing for over twenty years. The young Grace gave Pierce a reason to focus after his father’s suicide. Giselle, too, played a prominent role in Grace’s life those twenty-three years ago.

So Grace Quinn seems to be the catalyst that draws them all together, even though she’s been missing for over twenty-three years.

Confused yet?

Island of Dreams is an incredibly hard book to review. I know I didn't like it, but this is truly a subjective call. I'm a meat and potatoes kind of reader, while Island of Dreams is too haute cuisine for my taste, more like daube de boeuf a la Provencale...beef stew to the non-Francophiles. For one thing, the story is too mystical. I'm not used to reading for hidden meanings, yet it seemed that Island of Dreams was full of them. All four characters have been emotionally imprisoned, all are rescuers and become rescued themselves. When all of that symbolism became clear to me, I felt like cheering but it took more analyzing that I'm prone to do.

The many references to music and singing kept going right over my head. I sensed a strong mystical feel but didn't have enough points of reference to unravel the allusions. Also, the numerous parallel story lines were much too unconvincing, ultimately too contrived and the writing too stilted in many places.

He hadn't been touching her. Nor did he. But he made for his songbird a welcoming nest of his hands. This was a new nest, this home that sang and different from the nest he'd made for her Friday night.

Island of Dreams is one of the few books I've ever read that didn't have a familiar feel to it. Nothing truly satisfied in the story. I couldn't empathize with any of the characters, and the prose often seemed awkward. I know that reviews are subjective. I'd bet my bottom dollar that there are readers who do appreciate a book like Island of Dreams. I just know that it didn't quench my emotional needs and didn't give me a comfort level that I've come to demand when I'm reading a romance.

--Linda Mowery

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