Review: Dream House by Valerie Laken

10 Feb

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

About Dream House:

What price will people pay to hold their homes and dreams together?

When Kate and Stuart Kinzler buy a run-down historic house in Ann Arbor, Michigan, they’re hoping their grand renovation project can rescue their troubled marriage. Instead, they discover that years ago their home was the scene of a terrible crime—and the revelation tips the balance of their precarious union.

When a mysterious man begins lurking around her yard, Kate, now alone, is forced to confront her home’s dangerous past. Hers is not the only life that has crumbled under this roof. This man’s family also disintegrated here, as the result of one brief act of rage that may haunt him—and this house—for years to come.

For two days now, I’ve been thinking about what to say about this book. I’m still not sure. In fact, the book is quickly fading from my memory.

I enjoyed reading it, and I can’t figure out why it didn’t make a greater impression on me.

I liked the main character, in spite of (or maybe because of) her flaws. Yes, she’s a bit self centered, and a bit obsessive, but who isn’t? (What, that’s just me? Oh, sorry!). I was amused by her husband, mired in the good ole’ days of college, not quite ready to grow up. I should be more interested in the choices they each made during the book.

The dream house of the title is almost a character in itself, with a mysterious shadowy past, slowly revealing its secrets to me.  Unfortunately, almost is the key there– to me, it just remained a house.

Perhaps there was language or atmosphere that just didn’t register with me.  I read for character and plot.  The language didn’t get in my way, the setting provided support for the story, so I was satisfied.  I can imagine others might get more from those aspects than I did.

Maybe the problem is that I’ve encountered all of these pieces before, although not assembled in quite this way. Then again, that’s true of most books I read, at some level. There aren’t that many truly unique plots or characters out there. I just felt like Dream House should have had more impact on me than it did.

I did want to call out one part that I particularly enjoyed, where the teachers at the local high school break into the gym over the summer and have a party of the sort they weren’t invited to when they were students. The concept was amusing, and the reader was able to see a side of Kate (and one of the other teachers) that doesn’t come out elsewhere in the book. The scene is used to build up events that follow, so it isn’t just a throw away.

Shrug. I don’t have any reasons you shouldn’t read Dream House. Check it out of the library. Pick it up for vacation. Read it. Then go on to something else.  I’ll suggest Folly by Laurie R. King if you want a book where a woman is taking control of her life by working on a house.  It’s been over 5 years since I read Folly, and it still has more of a place in my mind than Dream House does.

TLC Book ToursI read this book as part of a TLC Book Tour. I appreciate the opportunity to read and review Dream House.  For more information about the book or the author, visit Valerie Laken’s website.   For other views of the book, check out the other tour stops:


Posted by on February 10, 2010 in books, reviews, tour


Tags: , , , ,

4 responses to “Review: Dream House by Valerie Laken

  1. nanscorner

    February 10, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    It’s tough to write a review on a book that doesn’t make a big impression and you don’t know why. I think you did a good job on this review!

  2. Lisa

    February 11, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Ick–my book club just decided to read this for May. Sounds like there are a lot of other books out there that would make better reads.

  3. trish

    February 13, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Sorry this books wasn’t a favorite! Interesting that Folly has stuck with you, while you’re already forgetting about Dream House. Well I appreciate your being on the tour, and you wrote a very interesting review!


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