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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Soap Dreams by Stephanie Haefner

Soap Dreams by Stephanie Haefner
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (49 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rated: 4 books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Robyn Miller is perfectly happy in her immaculate home, playing stay-at-home mom and devoted wife. That is, until she's channel surfing one day and sees her high school sweetheart Derek, acting in a lead role in her favorite old soap. Watching Derek's show becomes her secret pleasure...and brings back memories best forgotten. When Derek's mother throws him a big celebration in town, Robyn tries to avoid seeing him, but ends up in his arms for a dance.

Derek has finally hit the big-time, but he hasn't found happiness. He regrets losing Robyn, and his show's ratings are falling. He longs to get her back in his life--both personally, and as a writer on the show. Those love scenes she used to dream up were Emmy material. Knowing her marriage is a sham, can he convince her to follow her dreams and give the show--and him--a shot?

Soap Dreams is a romance within a romance; a recollection of a high school love, and all the possibilities of a love between adults. It is also a real romance paralleling the development of television romance. In an odd way, one is the reflection of another.

Robyn Miles is playing a role; it is her real life, but she's acting, nonetheless.

Derek Woodsen is an actor in reality; a dreamy sort of soap star who will convince her - and us - of his true intentions and his feelings. He's captivating and was her one-time sweetheart. How easy is it to fall back in love? We do see that he might have some other motivation beyond true love. And, the truth is, Derek might offer Robyn some career help, as well.

Still, we have to admit that their feelings in the past were most assuredly real. Ms. Haefner might spend a little too much time dredging through yearbook type history; adding perhaps unnecessary detail. We don't doubt the emotion though. We also learn that Robyn was voted 'most likely to succeed.' Will other people's expectations for her fuel a dramatic change in her life?

Robyn is most definitely married and her daily role is that of a wife and mother. She had dreams though, long ago...dreams that tempt her now, as much as Derek does. Is it selfish to pursue your dreams? Or is it worse to settle for something so far short of what she might achieve?

Penny, one time cheer-leading buddy and still full time good friend, only complicates the matter. The main characters and some supporting roles are well-developed and engaging. Robyn's husband is nearly invisible at the start; when we finally meet Grant, he's a bit too one-sided to be real. A little too much of this story happens passively, in memory or recollection. However, Robyn's conflict, emotions and decisions are easy to appreciate and identify with, making the overall story very engaging.

Soap Dreams is a heartfelt and very original short story. For better or worse, Ms. Haefner generates sympathy for Robyn's position, her dreams ... and her responsibilities. Do read.