Dreams of Desire
by Cheryl Holt
(Sensation, $7.99, NC-17) ISBN 978-0-425-23918-6
Lily Lambert is an orphan who has gotten through life as a single woman by being clever and a good companion to rich and bratty upper-class teenagers. She wants a home and a family of her own but in the meantime, she just wants a good job where she can live without too much hardship. That last desire is effectively thrown into the gutter when she applies for a job chaperoning the rich and possibly certifiably insane twin charges of Lord Pentworth on their ‘family’ trip to Scotland.

She lands the job, but quickly decides that she doesn’t want to have to deal with the two evil twins, who are threatening her within the first five minutes of her employment. But Lord Pentworth won’t let her quit. He doesn’t believe that his wards are evil. She tries several times, but he always ends up intimidating her or wooing her into staying.

Before departing for Scotland Lily encounters Philip Dubois, a man of mystery who peddled magic remedies out of a wagon. Lily, desperate to change her stars buys a couple of vials of his ‘Spinster’s Cure.’ One swig of the cure while looking at the face of the man you desire and poof, your fate is magically altered and you will marry the man you espy.

Before going to Scotland, the ever-so-proper and uptight Lord Pentworth abruptly pulls a one-eighty and starts acting like a spoiled and randy teenager who thinks being pushy is the key to getting women. Apparently he’s right, as Lily cannot really resist his rather charmless charm.

So Lily, the twins, Lord Pentworth, Lord Pentworth’s uptight stepmother Ester, his free loading half brother Edward and Pentworth’s bland fiancée all head to Scotland. He’s all over Lily while on a trip with his fiancee in attendance. Classy.

On the way there, Lily sets her sights on the captain of the ship they’re traveling on. She drinks the ‘Spinster’s Cure’ and goes to look at Captain Odell only to be grabbed by Lord Pentworth.

So, now Lily’s fate is Lord Pentworth, whether she truly believes in the Cure or not.

Without going into it, let’s just say that there is some bondage and some incest. Lily eventually succumbs to Lord Pentworth, which leaves her in a tight spot, as Pentworth won’t leave his fiancée and won’t admit that he loves Lily. So he basically ruins her reputation, thus rendering her unemployable and thus screwing her over royally. Why Lily falls for this guy is beyond me.

Lily is your basic orphan with high ambitions and a heart of gold. So naturally she gets Shangied into ruining herself. For as smart and stubborn as she is portrayed, considering Pentworth’s lack of personable traits, she sure does sway easily when a handsome man looks her way.

Pentworth has always had to live under the rigid guidelines of society. But when he meets Lily, he tosses that all out the window and pursues her with vigor. He’s the head of the household as he is the smarter and more upstanding of the two brothers. Which isn’t saying much as Edward is despicable. Pentworth is pushy, thoughtless, selfish and above all oblivious. I won’t accuse him of being malicious because there is no grounds for it, but he soon finds out that the twins have it out for Lily and instead of doing something about it, he waits until they TRY TO KILL HER to step in and say, “That’s enough, girls! Go to your room.”

If I was Lily, I would have kicked Pentworth where it counted and told him to stay away. I understand why Lily didn’t just take off as she is in a foreign country, with no money and if she just up and quits, she won’t have a good reference and therefore will have trouble getting another job. Society has her in a tight spot. She can either try to tough it out and keep away from the twins, or she can try to get back to London where she can attempt to stay out of the gutter and avoid prostitution. I do not envy this woman.

The story has tons of plot twists and enough crazy content to keep your attention. I don’t count myself as extremely vanilla, but incest, especially between the twins is beyond creepy. It’s bad enough that they remind me of what I think the twin girls from The Shining would grow up to be like.

All in all, Dreams of Desire misses the mark. While I can admire Holt’s ambition and her desire to cram a lot of action into her novel, I just couldn’t get into it and, despite my efforts, (I know it doesn’t seem like I tried, but I did. Seriously,) I couldn’t get myself to like Pentworth.

So, if you like your heroes a bit on the train wreck side, then you may like Dreams of Desire, but if you’re on the conservative side, I would advise that you skip this one.

--Lindsey Seddon

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