There are many things to savor about DRAGONFLIES AT NIGHT by Anne Marie Bennett. Its heroine Savannah Rose Adams is the successful business owner of a party planning company serving every event, except weddings. Survivor of loss in an era where true love can seem scarce, and refreshingly not a size zero, Savannah falls for Ben Shepherd who she calls ‘Rock Star’ because–as a smash hit performer and songwriter, Ben is often swarmed by paparazzi wherever he goes. Meeting at a retreat center, Savannah and Ben find they have many things in common, including yoga and musicals. In addition, they’re both in therapy. They pretty much instantaneously fall hard, fast, and potentially permanently for one another. To work, this type of story needs readers to go “Awww” on a regular basis and to feel genuinely touched by the story unfolding. Less desirable are occasions when the audience doesn’t quite believe whatever characters are supposed to be doing or feeling in certain scenes, and this is one flaw in an otherwise commendable novel.
Realistic romance is a genre that’s particularly challenging to balance since evoking unadulterated emotion can easily slip towards melodrama and/or saccharine sweetness. This pitfall is especially perilous when attempting to portray what it might be like to fall in reciprocal love with a bona fide famous person. In this tale, there are a few too many times when emotional content is summarized rather than shown, and even where shown, a bit too many occasions where actions described revolve around characters turning towards each other for stereotypical long, lingering kisses. This romantic novel, however, is saved from its flaws by the fact that the nature of love explored is not only in the realm of dreamy dating. There’s also the love of friends and relatives like Andi, Savannah’s friend/business partner; Brando, Ben’s friend/personal assistant/bodyguard; the still-present-in-spirit Deidre Rose, who died when her daughter Savannah was only fifteen; and Suzanna Cavanaugh, the lesbian aunt who gave up the love of her life in order to take in her orphaned niece.
With alternating perspectives including Deidre Rose, Aunt Suzanna, and Ben, as well as the reoccurring symbolism of Dragonfly–a species with a lifespan of 40 days and 40 nights–there is something magical about this gentle story. It is comforting to think those who have left earth may continue looking out for those who they loved still negotiating life on this plane. The book wraps with wonderful sections filled with insider information about how the author came to write this particular tale, discussion questions, a sign-up newsletter promising recipes/character backgrounds/deleted scenes, and acknowledgments written in such a personal manner that readers are likely to feel as if, they too, are becoming a friend invested in how the novel and these characters fare.
Anne Marie Bennett’s DRAGONFLIES AT NIGHT is an expansive, gorgeously designed and beautifully written book for anyone who has ever hoped that soul mates and love-at-first-sight were possible.
~C.S. Holmes for IndieReader