A Dream of Something More by Jane Carter

In brief: Robbie is a woman achieving her dream of a tertiary education a little later in life – post child and post-divorce. Can she let go of her past and embrace life with Nick?

The good: Really good descriptions of life in an Aussie country town, plot moved at a good pace and the hero, Nick, was sweet and patient.

The not-so-good: I didn’t feel a connection with Robbie – she seemed to be closed off to new ideas for most of the book.

Why I chose it: Sent to me by the kind folks at Momentum.

Year: 2014 (originally published 2009)

Pages: 284

Publisher: Momentum

Setting: New South Wales, Australia

My rating: 7 out of 10

A Dream of Something More is a gentle romance that covers more than your usual spectrum – divorce, single parenting, mature age university, age gaps and a lack of self-confidence. I would also happily class it in the ambiguous genre of ‘women’s fiction’, meaning that it’s not just romance, but covers issues (both good and bad) occurring in women’s lives. It’s a second chance story for Robbie, our heroine.

When we first meet Robbie, she’s at university, completing the teaching degree that she never did as a school leaver due to her mum’s illness. But now, as her marriage is dissolving, she’s decided to follow her dream to become a teacher. As a new semester starts, a new student moves into her apartment complex. Nick is also a mature age student, trying to make a competitive rowing team while doing postgraduate study. Sparks fly and the pair begin a relationship.

But that’s not the end – more like the end of the beginning. Robbie gets a job back in her home country town of Farrow as a teacher. Nick doesn’t want her to leave, but taking this job means she’ll be back home and actively taking care of her daughter again. Robbie’s always been overly concerned at the age difference between them and thinks this is a good point to end their ‘fling’. However, fate intervenes and the pair meet up again and again in Nick’s home town of Newcastle. Will Robbie give in to Nick’s affections? Or will she stubbornly decide a younger man is not for her?

I’ve got to say that I really didn’t understand Robbie’s hang-up about Nick being younger – he was (I think) about eight years younger – Robbie was in her thirties, Nick in his twenties. Both of them seemed quite mature (probably more so Nick) but Robbie just can’t deal with the age gap. There’s a lacklustre flirtation with a fellow teacher (interestingly, I don’t recall his age being mentioned often) and Robbie’s ex-husband is now about to marry someone much younger. Robbie’s refusal to move on the age thing frustrated me – Nick was such a good, kind, patient man that I wanted to tell her to go for it! Even though Robbie’s left her hometown and come back, she still expresses worry at people knowing her business – a sort of ‘what will the neighbours think’ thing. I think she lacked confidence in herself and trusting her own opinions. This got a bit wearying for me, especially as a flippant comment Robbie made had a huge impact on Nick and his family.

Nick is a real gem. He’s the hero in a million. He was so patient with Robbie, and even when there was a misunderstanding between them near the end of the book, he was quick to forgive. He was also great with Robbie’s daughter, helping her out in so many ways. I would have snagged him if his heart hadn’t been set so devotedly on Robbie!

Although it dragged a little in the first half, the second half of the novel is much more rewarding as it tackles family issues and the big ‘will they or won’t they’ between Robbie and Nick. A pleasant read.

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