Dakota Dreams is a good romance by Constance O’Banyon for the Zebra Lovegram line. But it could have been so much more.
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Native American Romance, Victorian Era Romance
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader
TOTAL SPOILER ALERT ⚠
This review is of Dakota Dreams, a standalone Zebra Lovegram romance by Constance O’Banyon.
Dakota Dreams starts on November 1, 1833. On this day, in a blizzard, two lives will end, and one will begin. The lives that end are those of Lady Cillia Remington and her husband, Lord Holden Remington, ninth Marquess of Weatherford. The life that begins is that of their son.
Cillia gives birth to her son with the help of Two Moons, an Arapaho war chief. Before she dies, she asks Two Moons to raise her son. Two Moons names the child Dakota, and Two Moons and his wife raise Dakota alongside their biological son, Black Otter.
At first, the two boys are friends and brothers, but as they grow to adulthood, their relationship becomes strained, mostly from Black Otter’s perspective.
After Two Moons’ death, Dakota, now 23, leaves for England. Two Moons asked Dakota to do so before he passed for two reasons. One, for Dakota to truly embrace his heritage, and two, because he feared what Black Otter would do to Dakota.
After receiving training from his friend, hunter, and trapper Levi Johnson, Dakota goes to England, where he meets his cousin, John Donegal, and welcomes further instruction before meeting his wife.
Meanwhile, in England, Lady Breanna Kenton discovers that she has been affianced to Dakota by her ne’er do well brother, Fielding. Needless to say, Breanna is not happy with the situation. She’s also concerned about Dakota having been raised as an Arapaho.
Breanna meets Dakota’s grandfather, Quincy Remington, current Marquess of Weatherford, who bluntly tells her that she and Dakota are only in his life to produce an heir, nothing more.
Breanna and Dakota are later married by proxy.
Marriage Then Love
Dakota arrives in England, and the bride and husband finally meet. They are attracted to each other. But both are struggling with being in a world neither understands nor wants, so they are hesitant to make their marriage real.
However, as time goes on, Breanna and Dakota give in to their attraction and become lovers. They fall in love, meaning major storm clouds are on the horizon.
Storm Cloud #1
There is a long-running dispute between Dakota’s village of Weatherford and the neighboring village of Saffron. Ostensibly, the argument is only over fishing waters, but what Dakota doesn’t know is that Martin Saffron, Lord Saffron, has a personal grudge against Dakota’s family.
Breanna doesn’t know that Martin’s sister, Lady Rye Saffron, is scheming to break up Breanna and Dakota’s marriage and have him for herself. As part of Rye’s plan, she manipulates Dakota into offering her lodgings.
When Breanna sees them together embracing, she assumes the worst and runs off, later being hit by a carriage. She is rescued by Lord Stephen Glendon, Duke of Clandandon, and his sister, Lady Mary. They nurse Breanna back to health, and she goes back to Dakota.
Storm Cloud #2
Dakota learns that Black Otter, whom he thought was dead, is alive and terrorizing people. Dakota decides to leave England and return to America to deal with him.
After Quincy passes, Breanna, John, and Levi go to America. Dakota isn’t happy to see Breanna, but he doesn’t send her back to England, not that she would do so.
As Dakota pursues Black Otter, his relationship with Breanna is stressed. Later Black Otter kidnaps Brenna. She is part of his revenge against Dakota.
A final showdown occurs, and Black Otter is killed—not by Dakota, but by Breanna.
After killing Black Otter, Breanna and Dakota separate again, and she has their son, Holden.
But in the end, Breanna and Dakota reunite and reconcile. They have their Happily Ever After.
The best part of Dakota Dreams for me is Breanna. First, I love the name! (If I had a daughter, that is what I would name her).
She is a very sweet person who, like Dakota, was thrust into a situation she wasn’t prepared for and didn’t want. She is the best part of the book.
I liked Dakota at first. Yet as the novel progressed, I grew to dislike him. After being accused of adultery with Rye–no, thankfully, he did not cheat on the heroine–Dakota became more withdrawn, moody, and uncommunicative with Breanna.
But in the interest of fairness:
- Breanna did see Dakota embracing Rye.
- He did invite Rye to stay in the family estate.
- He did buy her clothing and jewelry (this came about because Rye lied to him about being robbed. This was part of her unsuccessful plan to seduce Dakota).
- He did all of this while leaving Breanna at the Remington country estate (and not telling her what was happening at home).
- So, in a nutshell, while Breanna was wrong to accuse Dakota of adultery without facts, he is guilty of naivete, poor judgment, and failing to communicate with his wife.
The Saffron storyline, the appearances of the Duke of Clandanon and his sister, is started and abruptly ends without being finished.
There is also a noticeable lack of depth here. This is a story about two fish-out-of-water people that needed to be explored, but Ms. O’Banyon failed to do so in any meaningful way.
As is the case with WAY too many romance novels, most of the issues Breanna and Dakota faced could have been resolved–or at least minimized–if they had actually TALKED WITH EACH OTHER!
Of course, if romance authors actually wrote books like that, there wouldn’t be a romance novel industry.
The love scenes between Breanna and Dakota are so mild that they are almost non-existent.
Heat level: As warm and exhilarating as drinking from a water bottle that’s left sitting in your car.
Assault, battery, shooting, and killings all take place in Dakota Dreams. None of the violence is graphic.
Bottom Line on Dakota Dreams
Dakota Dreams had the potential for a really good book. With Ms. O’Banyon writing the book differently or a different author, it might have happened.
Unfortunately, neither of those things happened, and, as a result, Dakota Dreams is far less of a book than it could have been.
|Rating Report Card|
Sold in Marriage… Independent Lady Breanna Kendall couldn’t believe her gambling brother had cashed in on her freedom to pay off his debts. Now she was trapped into marrying not only a stranger but one who had been raised by Indians in uncivilized America. Taking out her fury with a reckless ride, the amber-eyed hothead was thrown — then stunned to awaken in a handsome stranger’s arms. Their attraction was undeniable, and the betrothed beauty couldn’t keep from succumbing to her virile rescuer’s charms. But when she discovered her mysterious lover was her buffalo-hunting fiance, she felt betrayed by the philanderer … and swore she’d never relent to his velvet touch again!
Chained by Heritage … If his Indian father hadn’t forced him into a deathbed promise, towering Dakota Remington would never have left his rugged Arapaho life for stuffy England. Since the muscular white brave had no choice, he decided to happily explore his paleface people’s homeland … until he discovered he’d become wed to one without his consent! But after the raven-haired warrior saw Breanna, he knew he had to conquer her as any male who’d found his mate. He could always leave her behind when he returned to his real nation. For now he’d pursue her, torment her, tease her — and seduce her with the magic of his DAKOTA DREAMS…Dakota Dreams by Constance O’Banyon