Top critical review
3.5/5 stars for this atmospheric read
Reviewed in the United States on December 12, 2020
Welcome to Portugal! Read this book if you’re looking to fall in love in a gorgeous setting!
The Portuguese setting is absolutely charming, immersive and easily my favourite part of the book. After seeing the sights at sunset, experiencing a taste of the delicious pastries, listening to the music and being treated to some of the most delightful sights, I can definitely say I want to visit. I love that the author doesn’t just treat the Lisbon setting as a tourist destination. She describes daily living, as the main characters go about their lives, and gives us an idea of traditions and cultural norms. Lisbon, with her glorious beauty, is another character in this story.
Seren… I like that name… is a complex heroine. Her difficult relationship with her father shapes her decisions and fuels her determination to live a life on her own terms. She realizes early on that she is attracted to Reid but wants to ensure she has a full commitment from him. She does not want to receive what’s left over when he’s finished a battle of wits with his ex-wife. I enjoyed seeing her work of art take shape as the novel progressed. The art piece could be used to represent her own emergence as a stronger, more confident person.
As the story is told from Seren’s point of view, it was more difficult to get a sense of Reid’s motivations and development. However, his artistry and connection to his teenage daughter are well-depicted and readers get a strong idea of how the conflict with his ex-wife and his growing feelings for Seren affect him… and the emotional toll it all takes.
There was a very sudden and even jarring shift earlyish in the story from tentative interest to intimacy and the deeper feelings associated with that. The change left me a bit disoriented and I had to check to see if I’d somehow missed some pages. That’s relatively minor, however, as I was soon more concerned about how these two lovebirds would work towards their happy ending!
Overall, The Villa of Dreams is an enchanting destination read that will transport you to another place and introduce you to some delightfully creative characters.