One night, Seneca Jones has a vivid dream in which a smart, handsome man loves her passionately and unconditionally. Seneca, a social worker, dismisses the dream as a manifestation of longing for what she fears she’ll never have. But she figures out shortly after meeting Michael Benedetto, a former Naval Intelligence Officer, that he is the man of her dreams. Both brilliant and haunted by their pasts, Seneca and Michael realize they were meant to be together regardless of their extremely different backgrounds and their individual struggles with PTSD. Despite their devotion to one another, however, Michael’s past as a spy and the horrific incident that Seneca witnessed as a teenager put their relationship, as well as their lives, in jeopardy. As their love and commitment grow stronger, Seneca and Michael vow to work together to help others who are fighting similar battles. Unfortunately while they attempt to deal with their own issues, they have no way of knowing that an even greater danger looms over their future.
“Do you mind if I swim?” Michael asked. “I’ll get my stuff out of the SUV and change while you’re inside. I can put my dry clothes back on afterwards.”
“Brrr. It’s fine with me, and there’s no one else around to care. We’re completely isolated here. So, be my guest.”
I made a trip to the bathroom, got two bottles of water out of the fridge, and headed back to the lanai. The moment I opened the door, I stopped. I thought my heart would stop, too.
From his position near the edge of the beach, Michael was unaware that I was standing in the doorway to the house. He slipped off his shirt and placed it on one of the chairs. He then undid his belt buckle, unbuttoned the top button on his shorts, and then unzipped them. Once those were placed next to the shirt, he took off his black boxers. I watched as he pulled on his swim trunks, slipped on his water shoes, then walked into the water and began to swim.
The image of Michaels naked body lingered in the forefront of my brain. His muscles were well-defined but not overly so. His butt was not flat but not too rounded either. And the glimpse I’d had of his….
You need to be very careful or else you know what’s going to happen. Then where will you be? What if he is really like the man from your dream and you have sex with him too soon and ruin everything?
Sighing, I made my way down to where our chairs were set up and took the same seat. I was so engrossed in watching Michael’s powerful body as he swam that I forgot about looking at the sunset.
“She’s like a fairy godmother with attitude.”
“Because neither of us was willing to bend. I always had to be right, and he always had to be right. It made us both wrong.”
“I’d be honored to walk you down the aisle, but I will never give you away. I want you always for my very own.”
“You can’t know how I felt when I saw you in your wedding dress for the first time. It was almost too much for my heart to hold.”
“I want you to know that you and every other soldier on this planet who fight for truth and justice have sacrificed a part of their souls but have gained an expansion of their hearts.”
This story was not what I was expecting, but I liked it. A Lovely Dream is an emotionally moving and deeply felt story with a melancholy air, yet it is not maudlin or heavy-handed. There is intrigue, humor, heartbreak, secrets, shame, loss, love, tragedy, friendship, romance, trauma, validation, and personal discovery and growth. There are no service members, past or present, anywhere in my family, so I had not stopped to think of the impact on their lives in this way… it was eye-opening and definitely got my attention. Although deeply heartfelt, the book is simply written, easy to read, and absorbing. Ms. Cutrera’s stories are always well detailed, and her characters are usually smart yet somewhat damaged, interesting, likeable, and well fleshed out. And they are always… always… so much more than they initially seem. I am looking forward to the next in the series as I am fully invested and more than curious, in fact a bit impatient, to know what happens next.
Born and raised in Louisiana, Barbara Cutrera was destined to be a storyteller. The author of contemporary romance, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, fiction, and mystery novels, she became addicted to reading and creative writing at an early age. She moved to Florida’s Gulf Coast with her husband, son, and Cairn terrier in 2004 and enjoys its relaxed, diverse atmosphere. Barbara, who is visually impaired, believes our minds are only limited by the restrictions we place upon them. She has a passion for writing, reading, family, friends, music, Nutella, and A & W Cream Soda.