Believe in Me

Dream Island

Dream of Me

Fountain of Dreams by Josie Litton
(Bantam, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-553-58583-5
The year is 1837, the place is London, and the Princess Victoria is waiting to become Queen of England as soon as her ailing uncle, William IV, dies. Victoria is not the Princess we are interested in, however. We are interested in Princess Amelia of the mythical kingdom of Akora, located somewhere near the Azores. The 25-year-old princess is about to meet a most attractive man, Niels Wolfson, when he kidnaps her.

Niels is on a covert mission for the new President, Martin Van Buren. Fifty-nine American sailors died when the Defiant, an American warship, was blown up in Baltimore harbor. The Defiant was bound for Akora, to find out why the Akorans would not agree to diplomatic relations with the United States and to discover whether Akora planned to allow the British to use their port. Prince Andreas, Amelia’s cousin, was in Baltimore when the Defiant blew up, so the American government suspects that he was involved. Hence Niels’ London mission.

Niels - also known as the Wolf - kidnaps Amelia as planned and takes her to a secluded country house just outside of London. He locks her in a room that is apparently secure but actually has one loose shutter. As Niels hoped, Amelia is able to pry it open, climb out the window, and start walking home, in the dark and rain. As she plods along - wet, cold, and exhausted - a lone rider approaches from the direction of the country house where she was held, and I got worried. Instead of hiding until the rider passes by, she decides to flag him down, on the chance that the rider was not involved in her abduction but was, instead, a potential rescuer. Frankly, that conclusion fell right into the Too-Stupid-To-Live category, and I feared the worst: a heroine who keeps putting herself in jeopardy. I worried needlessly - that was Amelia’s only TSTL move.

As far as Wolf was concerned, Amelia’s kidnapping achieved his goal: it won him admission to the Akoran inner circle, invited to an Akoran ball and to visit their country estate outside of London. Both the men and the women of the Akoran court are in agreement on the invitations, but their motives differ. Amelia’s father, uncle, and cousins have investigated Niels and come up with suspiciously few answers. They want to keep the Wolf under observation until they know what is going on. Amelia’s mother and aunt, on the other hand, recognize the growing attraction between Amelia and Niels and approve. They want the romance to prosper. And so Niels and Amelia are thrown together, with predictable results.

An equally predictable side effect of Niels’ mission is that his romance with Amelia is endangered by the person responsible for blowing up the Defiant. Less predictable is Amelia’s reaction to these complications. Even if she initially suspected the worst of Niels, she was capable of quickly reassessing the situation and changing her mind. True, Amelia has a helpful special ability to know how others truly feel, but since Niels also avoids the Big Misunderstanding trap - and without any special powers - I have to give credit to author Josie Litton for presenting us with a rational pair of lovers.

According to the first page teaser of Fountain of Dreams, it is the first book of the second Akoran trilogy. While readers familiar with the first three books may be more interested than I was in Amelia’s parents, aunts, and uncles, I felt comfortable with their inclusion in the story. Their appearances were never awkward or intrusive or obviously inserted just to satisfy returning readers.

Even though I am not a fan of mythical kingdoms and so felt a certain initial resistance to Fountain of Dreams, Ms. Litton’s enjoyable story overcame my prejudice. I put my feet up, relaxed, and enjoyed Amelia and Niels’ story.

--Nancy J. Silberstein

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