Katiebabs is a self-proclaimed present day bluestocking with her head always in a book. She runs her own book blog called Babbling about Books and More!
The Hope Dress by Roz Denny Fox is a clean cut, rated PG small town romance that’s perfect for readers who like a sweet and subtle romance. The heroine is a kind and generous (beautiful both inside and out) woman whose dreams were destroyed but not forgotten. It takes her new neighbor- a single father with a six-year old daughter to show the heroine how special she is, although the hero is a tad sneaky because he keeps his career a secret as a cartoonist who uses the heroine as his latest muse.
Syvlie was once on top of the world as a wedding-dress designer in New York City. Her career is ruined (or so she thinks) when her lover at the time steals her ideas. She runs back home and starts again, making dresses for the local ladies, as well as taking care of people’s pets part-time. She also works on a secret project- a wedding dress she thinks she’ll never wear because she’s still burned by love. The community, fueled by gossip, thinks Sylvie has been “broken by a man” at twenty-six. She’s known as a spinster, and everyone around her, including her mother and sister wants her to find a new man and get married. Sylvia prefers to remain alone. Her life is about to turn upside down when new neighbors move in next door.
Joel has moved with his daughter Rianne for a fresh start. His ex-wife, a news reporter has rejected him and Rianne. Joel only cares about Rianne’s feelings and doesn’t want her hurt, even though she’s aware her mother doesn’t want to be in the picture. As he’s moving into his new house, Rianne’s cat gets loose and she runs up a tree because of an annoying dog next door. Sylvie is pet sitting Oscar, the boisterous dog for a few weeks. Joel confronts Sylvie about Oscar. He’s very unfriendly and rude. He remains this way for days after. Sylvie is not a fan of her new neighbor at all, but adores his daughter who is very friendly and outgoing.
Eventually Joel has an attitude adjustment, and soon he and Sylvie have become friends. He is interested in being more than just friends with her, but she keeps him at arms length in the romance department. He’s heard the rumors about her secret wedding dress and wonders why she’s given up on love. He also keeps his career a secret from Sylvie because he knows she may flip out if she finds out he’s made her a new character in his new cartoon strip. But Rianne has bonded with Sylvie and thinks she would be a great mom. What should Joel do? Does he reveal the truth to this woman who gives so much of her heart to her family and friends, knowing she might reject his feelings for her?
The Hope Dress is a feel good romance that would be a perfect TV movie. The cast of characters are unique and their personalities engaging, especially Sylvie. Joel, on the other hand, comes across as a snob in the beginning. He’s very standoffish and rude to Sylvie for a quarter of the novel. He does change in a way that you can get behind his relationship with Sylvie, although things on their end ramps up pretty fast. Trust is established quickly, which gives that fairy tale like HEA readers enjoy. The miscommunication between these two or their “secrets” goes on too long, especially with Joel’s comic strip, which is pretty sparse in the tension department. But the story shines regarding the setting, and that of Rianne, who really holds up a mirror to her father and Sylvie.
Fans of subtle romances that should also appeal to a teen audience will enjoy The Hope Dress.