I've said before that my two great loves are food and history. Well, if I had to pick a third, it'd be water. I was raised in the water. I grew up on Lake Erie, and my father owned a SCUBA and swim shop named Fantaseas with some of his friends.
Excuse the poor quality of the logo; the shop went out of business years ago, and I think the resolution was about as good as it got back then. Anyway, my father and mother, along with their friends, all taught SCUBA, so I was in the pool before I could walk. I was on a swim team when I was in first grade. My mom ran the aquatics department of a local YMCA, so I had complete access to two pools in the winter and five in the summer, and my neighbors had an in-ground pool they let us use whenever we wanted. I got lifeguard certified when I was 16 and went straight into a position as a lifeguard at another YMCA, where I stayed for four years before moving permanently to Washington, DC. I've always loved vacations that involve water, too, whether it's giant wave pools (my favorite is the one at Typhoon Lagoon at Disney World, which has 6-foot waves every minute and a half) or the ocean itself. So, if I have to say why I grabbed this book for my Kindle, I'm going to have to say it was a mixture of the cover (ocean, swimming, beach, palm trees...mmmmm, yeah, baby, gimme some of that location, please!), the description that included the words "SCUBA" and "surfing," which are two things I've always wanted to do (the dive shop closed before I was old enough to get SCUBA-certified), and the story took place in Hawaii, which is somewhere I've always, always, always wanted to go. I wasn't entirely sold on the whole "dream jumper" thing, 'cause it sounded hokey, but hey, there were those other facts playing in, so I went for it. Oh, and it was free. Or 99 cents. I can't actually remember.
Okay, so, the story is about (Kris)Tina Greene/Perez, who was widowed less than a year ago when her husband tragically disappeared while out surfing. Tina refuses to believe Hank is actually dead, because his body was never found, and keeps hoping he's going to turn up. Meanwhile, she tries to recover from her ordeal and get her business, a dive shop in Hawaii, running properly again so she can pay all of her bills. Then James/Jamey shows up. He's an ex-boyfriend from years ago, and he's very interested in what's going on with Tina. We soon learn that Jamey can jump into people's dreams and interfere with them, and he wants to use his abilities to help Tina deciper the wacky dreams she's been having lately in hopes that they might reveal something about Hank's disappearance. Also meanwhile, Tina tries to balance things with Hank's best friend, Noble, who is also very interested in her.
I did like this book, overall, but it wasn't fabulous. First, everybody wants to fuck Tina. I don't know why. She's pretty, I guess--I can't actually really remember much how she's described, other than being small and having dark hair and big breasts, but being pretty is a safe bet for a heroine--but everyone appears to connect with her on a Deeper Level. They don't want to sleep with her because she's hot, but because she's Special. Blah. Boring. Second, pretty much half the characters in this novel are total creeps, and you can definitely tell they're scheming something all along. The exact something might evade you--it evaded me until the end--but you can tell they're in on it in some form. Third, Jamey's entire Kandahar story line is completely hokey and unnecessary. I think it was an attempt to make him "deep," but it wasn't needed. I think a perfectly good background for him could have been made up with just the non-military aspects of his life. I'm willing to suspend a lot of disbelief when I'm reading, but that whole plot line (if you can call it that; it was mostly in the past) went too far. Finally, the happily-ever-afters for everyone were too sickly sweet to seem realistic in the slightest.
What was the best about this book was Tina as a stand-alone character. She's very confused, not sure what to think about anything that's happening around her or who she should trust, and I think Hornsby wrote her very well. She wants to be a confident, sassy woman like she once was, but she sees everything she loved rapidly slipping away from her and isn't entirely sure what to do about it. Throw in her freaky dreams on top of that, and it's no wonder she was losing it. Though I did think that maybe Hornsby didn't go far enough with the "mental health system" repercussions. I mean, she's walking around vividly hallucinating and all her shrink does is tell her not to take quite as much Xanax? And mixing alcohol with meds is a BIG no-no. Come on, Hornsby!
This book does contain an instance of near-rape, which I also thought Hornsby handled well. She manages to perfectly capture the confusion that many victims of rape suffer when their abuser was someone they knew and might have had romantic connections with before while not engaging in the epidemic of blaming the victim. The whole thing was handled very well.
Finally, I loved how Hornsby wrote the setting. I've never been to Hawaii, and my experience with the islands goes as far as a trip to Key West for a week (not quite the same) and numerous viewings of Lilo & Stitch. But I still felt that I got a very clear picture of what Tina's life in Hawaii was like. It made me want to visit all the more, despite the dark goings-on in the story.
Overall, I liked the book, but it did have some issues. The biggest annoyance was the Kandahar story, because it was so prevalent throughout the book and was so incredibly unnecessary. Still, I guess if you want a paranormal suspense book with some romance in it, I wouldn't discourage you from reading it.
2 stars out of 5.