Review: Marriage may be what her mother has in mind for her but Lucy has no plans for it to happen before some twelve months. After all, she has secrets of her own – ambitions she wants to meet, ones that a husband wouldn’t indulge. Engaged to her brother’s friend, it has long been understood that Lucy and Daniel would marry between the wealthy Banning family and their friends, the Jules. Lucy has accepted that, never knowing any other man who caught her eye. Until now. It isn’t until her brother Leo comes home with another friend in tow that Lucy begins to re-think her future. Could Will Edwards be a part of that? Ambitious but of the working class, Lucy finds Will easy to talk too and a man who sees her as more than a pretty face.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If that adage is true, this novel should be in excellent shape! This cover is gorgeous – what’s on the inside pales in comparison. Book one of Olivia Newport’s historical trilogy is both charming and ordinary. The former is driven by the fun-loving characters, the latter because there are some cracks and flaws that as a reader I couldn’t help notice. Reading this quaint series “backwards” didn’t seem to hinder the “big picture” story which is why following The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow and catching up on any other reading that came first, I was determined to finally finish Lucy’s story. When I categorize this as being “ordinary,” it isn’t meant to be mean rather that precluded the characters from truly coming into their own – especially the men.
From a reader’s viewpoint, I don’t accept underdeveloped male leads – and that is just what Will and later, Archie (book two) are, although from the perspective of a writer, I can easily relate (men being from Mars and all that jazz *wink*). In this series I’ve found myself more interested in the likes of Leo or Oliver (Lucy’s brothers) than the men who are meant to be the heroes – and that seems flawed to me considering that the leading man should evoke more interest. Lucy makes for a simple heroine with reflections of a modern feminist between her secrets (taking college courses) and her friendship towards Charlotte. Though she doesn’t grace the pages much, Aunt Violet is amusing and Charlotte’s story was neatly set up. Readers who enjoy historical series will likely find the “Avenue of Dreams” series worth their time. It’s a sweet little read despite its flaws.
Synopsis: Lucy Banning may live on the exclusive Prairie Avenue among Chicago’s rich and famous, but her heart lies elsewhere. Expected to marry an up-and-coming banker, the son of family friends, Lucy fears she will be forced to abandon what matters to her most—her work at the orphanage and the classes she is secretly taking at the newly opened University of Chicago.
When she meets Will Edwards, an unconventional young architect working on plans for the 1893 World’s Fair, Lucy imagines a life lived on her own terms. A new young maid brings her own secret to the Banning household, and Lucy must choose between deeply held values.
Can Lucy find love and live out of her compassionate heart?