Book Review: “Once A Dreamer” by Candice Hern

Cover of "Once A Dreamer" by Candice Hern
Cover of “Once A Dreamer” by Candice Hern.

I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reading “Once A Dreamer” by Candice Hern! I usually don’t read historical romance, but it’s been a while since I last read and reviewed a romance novel. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to pick up this book. Here’s a quick summary so we know what it’s about:

“The Busybody” counseled Eleanor Tennant’s headstrong niece to “follow her heart”—sending the impressionable girl racing into the arms of a notorious rake.

And Eleanor is furious!

The fiery Miss Tennant wants satisfaction from the popular lady columnist who ruined young Belinda’s life. But imagine Eleanor’s surprise when she discovers the anonymous author of the odious advice is a disarmingly attractive man named Simon Westover! Well, the handsome cad is responsible for this outrage, and he will set things right!

As for Simon, he must protect his “Busybody” identity at all costs—and therefore agrees to help Eleanor scour the English countryside for missing Belinda and her paramour. But the intoxicating nearness of the exquisite lady—not to mention her dazzling, emerald eyes and lush, kissable lips—is almost too much for a hopeless romantic like Simon to bear. Yet how can he convince Eleanor that he is no mere meddler but a passionate male with intense desires…and prove to the stubborn, straightforward miss that dreams of love can come true?”

Plot Development: 4 out of 5 stars

The main story was quite amusing—after finding out that her niece Belinda has run away to get married after heeding the advice of a romance columnist who is, surprise surprise, a man, Eleanor promptly grabs Simon and drags him along with her as they go to retrieve Belinda before it’s too late (or so they hope). The overall journey/storyline is simple, but it gave them a good excuse to be together and also  take the time inbetween to get to know each other more. I think the simplicity of the main story helped the relationship take center stage.

Character Development: 5 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed reading Eleanor and Simon individually and together (more on them together in the romance section). Eleanor likes to take things into her own hands. Yes, she’s overly cynical, but the later revelations in the book helped me understand why she felt that way and see the situation from her perspective. It does help that she realizes that maybe love isn’t just some fantasy or illusion after all, since she and Simon fall deeply in love with each other.

I also loved reading Simon’s romantic nature, along with his connections to being “Busybody” and other political connections. I feel like said political connections Simon has could be a possible plot point carrying into books of this same continuity (though I don’t know for sure since this is the first book in the series and also the first book I’ve read by this author, to my recollection).

Romance Development: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I went into this book thinking that this romance could be potentially cheesy, considering the “opposites attract” dynamic that Eleanor and Simon initially have going on. However, the chemistry between them felt really natural and sweet, and I found myself rooting for them by about halfway through the book. I loved how both partners took the time to really learn more about each other after realizing that they’re not exactly 100% what they assume them to be – and by looking past their initial reactions toward each other, that’s how they learn the depths of each other.

Overall, I’m rating this book 4.5 out of 5 stars!

This was a fun romance novel to read. I definitely reccomend it for anyone who wants to read a lighthearted romance with some good background worldbuilding.

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