Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Review: It Happened One Night by Lisa Dale


Lana Biel longs to leave her family’s Vermont wildflower farm so she can travel and see the world. And her sister Karin wants nothing more than to put down roots and conceive the child she and her husband just can’t seem to have. When a lighthearted fling with a mountain biker leaves Lana expecting, she finds herself tumbling headlong into motherhood while her sister Karin can only look on.

For help, Lana turns to Eli Ward, a professional meteorite hunter and her best friend for the last ten years. But Eli’s keeping secrets that could turn their friendship on its head. As the Vermont seasons change and the flowers in the wildflower meadows begin to fade, Lana must make some meaningful decisions about her family, her friendships, her love life, and her dreams.
Back in June I read and reviewed Simple Wishes by Lisa Dale, it was her first book and one of my random picks. Although I found that story a bit unbalanced, I really enjoyed Ms. Dale's writing and thorough character development. At the time I said I would look for Ms. Dale's next release and I'm so glad I did.

In It Happened One Night, I found the beautiful turn of phrase that I liked so much in Lisa Dale's first book, the thorough characterization I enjoyed, interesting and arresting secondary characters that contribute to the story, and a romance worth reading. The balance is there in this book. All these ingredients make for a story that pulled me in as it unfolded and ended with a beautiful, sweet epilogue that ties up all the loose ends.

When we first meet Lana we get the sense we're meeting a free spirited woman trapped in a small town by the love she feels for her only family, her sister Karin. Lana almost seems like an airy, flighty woman whom everyone loves for her positive, cheerful spirit. She loves two people: her sister Karin and her very best friend of ten years, Eli Ward. Lana has been waiting for Karin to start her own family, so she can begin to realize her dreams of traveling.

Karin's insight on Lana (page 32)
Some people thought Lana said kind things because she was angelic. But Karin knew better. Kindness was Lana's way of rearranging reality so it became more bearable. It was always sunny in Lana-land.
Lana's plans are thrown for a loop when she accidentally gets pregnant after a fling with a mountain biker. She doesn't want a child and doesn't feel prepared for motherhood. In the meantime, her sister Karin is trying to start her own family but can't. This makes Karin not only a desperate woman but also an obsessed one. Their estranged father Calvert, a man neither one of them wants to ever see again, shows up in town and all these events place the sisters on a collision course with each other. This is where Dale excels again in characterization by letting us discover these women -- peeling back layers one at a time until we reach the true Lana and the real Karin.

Lana's thoughts about her life (page 35)
And now even as an adult who lived among flowers, she still felt humbled to think that a wild flower could coax the most iridescent purples or fierce magentas from the most inhospitable soils. She wanted her own life to be like that, to grow something worthy from hardship and strife.
But this story would be nothing without Eli. Two days after I finished the book, I'm still thinking about Eli, so his is the character that seems to have impacted me the most. I think it's because of the way he loved so persistently and without reservation.

Eli (page 42)
Sometimes, you hit the jackpot.

And sometimes, you got a woman who was perfectly nice, pretty, and conversational, but who, in the end, was little more than a diversion -- not a fireball that turns night into day, and certainly not the wish of someone's heart, hidden in Kansas farmland, deep underground.
Lana and Eli have been best friends for 10 years. He is a teacher and meteorite hunter for the local museum, so he travels around the country quite a bit. When we first meet him, Eli is coming home from one of his trips after being away for 8 months. While away, he came to the realization that he loves and wants Lana, not as a friend but as a lover. He arrives home to heartbreak, and believe me my heart broke for him. Dale then takes us on a journey as Eli goes from doubts to self-confidence and from despair to elation.

This is a beautiful story of two friends who have been there for each other and on the surface know one another well, but who have allowed their true selves to be buried by fear and self-deception. They are joined by Karin on their journey and struggle to self-awareness and joy. A journey where dreams can still come true.

Dreams (page 99)
"Dreams are tricky things. They ebb and flow. They change as we change, you know? It's not... it's not a matter of right dreams and wrong dreams. I mean, sure, choosing one sacrifices another. But it's not about what you give up. It's about what you get."
The story begins when Lana gets pregnant and ends after she has the child with a beautiful epilogue, so expect some lovemaking while she is pregnant in this book. This didn't bother me at all, as I thought it was very well done. There's a combination of the predictable and unpredictable in the storyline, but enough of a combination to keep it interesting. I truly enjoyed Lana and Eli's romance, it took a while to get there but I thought it was worth the wait. I loved their love scenes and I even bookmarked the page where they kiss. Eli's internal dialogues, where he thinks about Lana and his love for her, were just beautiful.

This is a lovely book by Ms. Dale and I'll be looking for her next release.

You can visit the author here.

11 comments:

  1. Wonderful review Hils. Love the bits you pulled from the book. Dale's writing seems to flow well.

    Requested this one from the library. :)

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  2. Beautiful review. Ah, another book you've put in my TBB list! lol.

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  3. Leslie, I couldn't help but include those bits, I'm glad you enjoyed them. ;D I hope you read this, I'd like to see what you think of Dale.

    Tabitha. Thank you... hope you enjoy it. There's a lot going on in this book & I'd love to read your thoughts. :)

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  4. Great review Hilcia! I bought this one because of the friends to lovers theme (which I could eat for breakfast every day and never get sick of it LOL) but I haven't read it yet. Will make a point of it when I get home.

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  5. Excellent review! Even though I'm all babied/pregnancied out I'm going to pick this one up anyways. You made it sound wonderful :)

    I also loved the passages from the book. If all the writing is like that I'm sure I'll enjoy it.

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  6. Ames, I'm the same with friends to lovers, I can't help myself, lol! I hope you enjoy it too.

    novelnelle, I'm not one for babies or baby obsessed women (Karin) either, but it worked for me in this book -- the obsessed one wasn't the heroine & I think that helped. :) I hope you like it.

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  7. This sounds really great, Hiclia! I'm impressed how you saw something you liked in this author and stuck with her to a second book. I can see why, too - the writing really is wonderful and engaging!!

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  8. Great review Hilcia! :) It sounds like a great book, but I'm not sure yet, sigh. I picked it up at the bookstore, but put it back on the shelf.

    I think that first, I'm going to read Simple Wishes. Also, although I like friends to lovers plot, I'm not sure about the baby plot ^_^;

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  9. Hi CJ, I liked her! I think she'll only get better. At least I hope so. :)

    Nath, Simple Wishes is a good place to start to see if you'll enjoy Dale. :) In this book, there's really no baby until the very end & for about a minute, lol... there's a pregnancy that spans the length of the book, though.

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  10. I just saw this book on another blog and thought it sounded lovely. I'm so happy to see that you read it and enjoyed it so much! I'm going to have to look out for this one. Thanks!

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  11. Oh, Christine... I hope you like this one too!

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