At First Sight: Emmaline Neal moved to Manningsport, after her longtime boyfriend left her for a fitness guru; and over the course of two years she has remade her life. She loves her house, her dog and her job as one of three police officers in town.
But when the invitation to said ex-boyfriend wedding arrives, Emmaline starts to scramble for a date, mostly because, since her parents and her ex's parents are friends, she can't decline the invite and she doesn't want to be the loser who shows up without a date.
Everyone in town tells her to ask Jack Holland, who has being the "Friend-Date" down to an art, and often escorts all type of female acquaintances and friends to events, just because he's a nice guy.
Emma doesn't want to ask him though, since she has a rather big crush on him; and because she doesn't want to be a burden since she knows Jack has plenty on his plate.
A couple of months before, Jack rescued four teenagers that drove over a safety rail and fell into a lake, which had the whole town touting him as a hero, much to his discomfort. And now he struggles with PTSD and guilt over the fact that one of the kids -the driver - is still in the hospital in a coma.
So Jack could really use a few days out of Manningsport and the wedding seems as good an excuse as any, so he agrees to go with Emma.
Second Glance: I have this thing with Kristan Higgins' books. I really enjoy her writing and her style and she has this almost unparalleled ability to suck me into a story.
Form the moment I started to read In Your Dreams I was hooked, I wanted to keep reading because I found Emmaline likable and Jack was a really nice guy -typically the type of guy I really root for in Romance- but then I hit the wall I hit each and every time I read a Higgins' book: her parents showed up.
See, I don't know what it is or why she does it, but Higgins often writes these seriously awful parents into her stories, usually they a) take the heroine for granted, b) compare her unfavorably to her siblings or c) humiliate her often just because they are crappy parents I guess. Or all of the above. In this case it was all of the above.
But whatever, I expected that to a point.
Where this book broke for me, though, was with Jack. He has a knight in shinning armor complex a mile wide, which is amply exemplified by his relationship with his ex-wife, Hadley, who decided to show up back in town after she put him into debt, cheated and lied to him during their brief marriage.
Even though he doesn't like her, Jack often goes out of his way to be nice and "rescue" his ex from the various scrapes she gets herself into, never really stopping her firmly as she continues to interfere in his life. Hell, at one point he cancels a date with Emma to go have diner with Hadley and her sister, just because the sister was in town. And late in the book he says some really mean things to Emma, never apologizing properly and never groveling.
Yet, by the end, he just throws a ring at her and it's all good.
I really wanted Emma to assert herself more and a lot earlier than she does. She often just rolls over and takes it. Accepting half-assed apologies from Jack and her parents. I wanted some confrontation, and I don't think it's just my latin blood speaking on that regard. I wanted Emma to say "Look, you made me feel really bad!" and for Jack to say something other than "Ooopsie!" which is what his "apology" amounted to.
Also, I haven't spoken much of it because I found those parts really boring, but a lot of the book is dedicated to Emma's ex Nick and the woman he dumped her for, Naomi. They were both awful, awful characters with no other reason for being that humiliating Emma and acting like that woman from the Biggest Loser times a thousand.
Bottom Line: As I said, I give massive props to Kristan Higgins for being such a good writer, she has mad chops in that regard. But her character building invariably infuriates me at one point or another during her books, and In Your Dreams is no exception, which sucks because I really liked Emmaline for the most part, and I liked her sister Angela a lot but, as a whole, the book was both maddening and underwhelming.