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I have a habit of jumping into books mid-series, and usually have no problems, but I wish I had started at the beginning of this one. Not that I didn't enjoy this story, because I did, a lot, but because it does contain spoilers for the previous ones. The problem is that I want to read the previous books, I enjoyed this one that much.
Clare O'Connell is an amazing character. She has so much to deal with from her past. When her great-aunt Nuala's letter arrives revealing terrible secrets, it changes Clare's life forever. The emotions I felt while reading this book were so varied. I went from anger to sadness, happiness to despair throughout this story. I cannot believe what Clare went through in her life. She didn't deserve what happened to her and I was so happy to read about the doors that opened once she began asking questions. I have read about dysfunctional families before, but this one takes the cake. People who are cruel in the name of righteousness can be the worst and her father is one of them. Ben, her best friend's brother and her friend as well, is amazing. The way he stands by her and supports her can only be done out of love, but what kind of love?
Jessica Redland has quickly become a favourite author of mine. She writes of friendship and all that goes with it. Secrets, lies, forgiveness, self-searching, growth, following dreams and other themes involving family are all in these pages. There is also some abuse issues covered, so be prepared for that. I will definitely be going back to read the previous books in this series, but I recommend you start at the beginning to follow the stories of the characters in chronological order. I did a read/listen with this book narrated by Lucy Brownhill. It was a very pleasant performance with great pacing, expression and intonation. I will definitely listen to books she narrates in the future.
I flew through the nearly 400 pages of Dreaming About Daran. From pretty cover to endearing last lines, I loved this one.
Book 3 tells the tale of the last of three best friends from the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series, and what a punch it packs. Dreaming of Daran can be read as a stand alone but it is so much richer as the end of the series. Clare’s character is presented and unravelled from Book 1 and it all culminates in her growth and transformation in this story.
Clare is presented from the beginning of the series as the tough as nails sidekick to the sweet and looking-for-love Sarah. She’s pitted against the darling, caring Elise who wants nothing more than a family of her own. Clare, on the other hand, is young, ambitious, successful, sarcastic and hiding a whopper of a secret. Her past has shaped her in ways her closest friends could never imagine.
I can’t talk too much about the story because there are so many revelations and I don’t want to give away anything to spoil the fun. I can say that the blurb, although fitting, gives nothing away!!
Emotions… This book gave me all the feels. I smiled, I laughed, I cried, I felt shaken, angry and then happy again. Some twists I expected, some I thought I was prepared for and others I really wasn’t. I enjoyed having this story roll around my head for a few days while I thought about what I wanted to put into the review. A couple of weeks later and I still keep thinking about it.
One theme that stretches across all three books is friendship. Not just the fun parts, but also the realities of how people change, situations change, life changes and relationships must adapt too. Sometime friends keep secrets with the best of intentions and sometimes for selfish reasons. How those secrets are revealed and how individuals react can have a meaningful impact on any relationship. It’s a very sweet theme that is explored across the series and especially in this last novel.
It was also nice to see the characters from earlier books continue on their life journey. Sarah and Elise may have gotten their happy ending stories but it’s good to see them face some challenges as they continue in their relationships.
Although Dreaming About Daran is ultimately a love story, Clare must learn to love herself first. The majority of the story centres around Clare finally confronting a difficult past and embracing a present she never dreamed could be possible. As she works her way through these challenges, she begins to understand that love just might be possible for her future.
The flashbacks are woven into the story very neatly. They don’t pull the story back or make the pace lag. When the flashbacks are used they push the story forward and provide essential clues to unravelling Clare’s story.
Trigger Warning: There is a case of sexual assault. It is discussed in the story and covered in a brief flashback. It is not gratuitous and certainly not dismissive, but it is there.
While in general Jessica’s books are light and fun this one is a bit deeper and a pinch darker. I felt completely immersed in Clare’s world and wanted her to find her happy ending too.
Overall I loved this book and I can’t wait to read Jessica’s Christmas stories next month. If you are looking for a series with a beautiful setting and endearing characters who can make you smile and cry, definitely check out the Whitsborough series.
Having read many books by this author, I knew I was in for an emotional ride. What I didn't know was how I would be sucked into the story from the get-go, connecting to the main character Claire in a way I had not been able to, in recent times.
The words chosen by the author were juxtaposed so aptly that the powerful imagery it gave overpowered my senses and immersed me into the depths of the story. I didn't know I would feel my emotions so keenly.
Family and friendship, forgiveness and second chances were the themes the story was based on. But the real core of the book was author Jessica Redland's sheer talent in pulling off the different genre in one. There was mystery and suspense, romance and relationship, twists and humor. What stood out for me was the strength of a woman to overcome all the strives and forgive herself and the others. A brilliant read.
Having met Claire in earlier books, and finding her a bit of a conundrum, not always in a positive way, I was curious to see what was behind her prickly exterior. And when an author is writing about a character that engenders so much negativity from her behavior, it’s interesting to see just what that character’s story is. While I am more familiar with the lighter tone that is a highlight of Redland’s title, Claire’s story starts with more tumult and angst, and we have to work for those lighter moments.
And Claire has a story, and while I thought that she was often quick to dive into ‘poor pitiful me’ mode, particularly with her best friend Ben, she did surprise me more than once with the growth and development she showed. Albeit some was gained after much kicking and screaming, but the wounds from a rough childhood did often rise to the surface in childish behaviors.
But, Redland did keep me intrigued – despite it all, Claire is funny and does use her humor to fob off discomfort. What was better for the story and my enjoyment in Claire was her realization that in her friends she has the support and acceptance that was so lacking at home. With plenty of twists and turns as she uncovers one after another secret buried nearly two decades earlier in a tiny village outside Cork, the ability to unravel her own fractured past while finding ways to settle and align her past and present as a fully functional being, with a new outlook on life that is far less cynical and jaded.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
I read this author's one book about Searching for Steven, it was just alright for me. This book, however, had so many plot twists, that I was like "Yes, she has stepped up her game" There were so many plot twists that as so memorized and truthfully I could not put this book down. Wow, her "da" was the devil reincarnated.. The more I learned about him, the more I so grew to dislike him. I felt so sorry for this girl. I mean the more this girl learned about her past life only made me want to console her and be her best friend. My God, the journey she went on. And she survived!! What a strong character!! I loved her and her story, not the beginning, but how she overcame her obstacles. Her "da" pointing fingers is the biggest joke of the story.
Her "da" pointing fingers and cursing at her is the biggest bigot I have ever seen. I loved how she handled it and loved how she awakened to the truth Great story and great read!!
When I looked at the price, I thought, well not that good of a book at that price WRONG!!!! This is a GREAT book for this price!! Well worth the money!! Thinking this author is being totally undersold!!! A must read for your TBR pile at this bargain price!!!
Thanks so much So Vain Books for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review. The plot twists will have you going WTH? And, I mean that in a good way
Wow, what a totally awesome novel from author Jessica Redland! Dreaming About Daran grabs you right from the beginning and the exciting plot never loses momentum. The main character, Clare O'Connell, evolves into a brand new person by the end of the story, by uncovering her past. This is the third and final book from Ms. Redland's Whitsborough Bay series and it can be enjoyed as a standalone.
Clare grew up in the very religious town of Ballykielty Ireland. Her parents, fanatical Catholics, were dastardly mean and put her through hell. Clare was disowned at the age of sixteen and went to live with her aunt, another religious maniac. In spite of her upbringing, she went to college and became a public relations guru. Her aunt's deathbed confession sheds a ton of light on her past, and as a result, she discovers the many hurtful lies and deceits her parents perpetrated. After seventeen years of living half a life, she is finally able to be part of a loving family and fall in love for the second time.
This is a well-written novel about courage and love, that twists and turns in all the right places. The author's use of Irish colloquialisms contributed to the authenticity of the characters. I experienced every emotion known to woman while reading this book, and I will never forget Clare's remarkable journey into the past. This is chic lit at its best. Don't pass on the opportunity to read this book.
Complimentary copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
Clare has always kept secrets she cannot open up to anyone not even Sarah her best friend - no-one knows anything about her past in Ireland and she never wants to go back there so when her boss insists that she visits an important client there she is very upset
She decides to go and visit her home town and by mistake meets her father, a horrible man, who tells her to leave and never come back. Gradually the story of her past comes out and the story of her first love Daran and the consequences of that love, and the hardships she suffered at the hands of her father and his fanatical Catholic religion
When a great aunt that she lived with in Cornwall dies and leaves her a letter Clare realises that she has to revisit that past and we finally find out her story what has made her the way she is and how she finally comes to rely on her friends, Sarah, Ben and Elise. She also finds that she has family and how much it matters
A great book I have loved all of the Whitsborough Bay series but think that this one is the best - it is great to see Elise and Clare finally becoming friends and how the friendship of all of them can overcome the hurdles in their way. The book was real page turner and I was sorry when it was over
Clare is such a likeable character she comes across as tough but has a hidden past that is pretty heartbreaking. I thought Ben was great and so supportive.
Just as in Getting Over Gary I thought the friendship between Elise and Clare was lovely. Along with Sarah the friendship between all three women was true to life and felt real. The characters had depth and were well written.
The flashbacks were a great addition to the story. I liked how information was revealed bit by bit. I got a quite emotional at times that's how much I was pulled into the story. The story moved at a brisk pace and I found I was half way through the book before I even realised. Its not as light as Getting Over Gary as there are some serious issues that are brought up but they are handled well.
I enjoyed Getting Over Gary but I think this book just jumps ahead of it. I loved both the story and characters.
Dreaming about Daran is emotional, engaging and is a lovely end to the Whitsborough Bay series!
Five stars from me!
Thank you to So Vain Books & Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.