“There is a loveliness to life that does not fade. Even in the terrors of the night, there is a tendency toward grace that does not fail us. ” ― Robert Goolrick
Author: Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Pages/Word Count: 405 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: Daniel Whitlock is terrified of going to sleep. And rightly so: he sleepwalks, with no awareness or memory of his actions. Including burning down Kenny Cooper’s house—with Kenny inside it—after Kenny brutally beat him for being gay. Back in the tiny town of Logan after serving his prison sentence, Daniel isolates himself in a cabin in the woods and chains himself to his bed at night.
Like the rest of Logan, local cop Joe Belman doesn’t believe Daniel’s absurd defense. But when Bel saves Daniel from a retaliatory fire, he discovers that Daniel might not be what everyone thinks: killer, liar, tweaker, freak. Bel agrees to control Daniel at night—for the sake of the other townsfolk. Daniel’s fascinating, but Bel’s not going there.
Yet as he’s drawn further into Daniel’s dark world, Bel finds that he likes being in charge. And submitting to Bel gives Daniel the only peace he’s ever known. But Daniel’s demons won’t leave him alone, and he’ll need Bel’s help to slay them once and for all—assuming Bel is willing to risk everything to stand by him.
Review: This is about Daniel and Bel, a man who sleepwalks without any memory of doing so, and the one who reaches out to save him.
This was so beautifully written, so emotionally driven. The subject matter is unique, the storyline heartbreaking. The authors reel you in and never let you go. I personally couldn’t put it down until I read the final page.
Daniel is one of the most memorable characters I have read thus far. Daniel just can’t seem to catch a break, ever. From his early childhood into adulthood, he suffers from sleepwalking. He has no recollection afterwards of what he has done or said while in this state. After one such episode, someone is dead and Daniel is labeled a murderer. I was absolutely enthralled by the entire sleepwalking storyline. It was very unique, and the authors did such an amazing job with it. Their obvious in-depth research on the subject matter made for realistic, enjoyable reading. Never have I read a character so misunderstood, so desperate for someone to just love him. His sense of unworthiness is so sad it hits you right in the gut; he truly broke my heart. The person who comes to help and eventually love him is someone he least expects.
Joe Belman, aka Bel, is a deputy in small town South Carolina. Having been there all his life, he believes the town gossip about crazy freak Daniel Whitlock. Bel changes his tune when he actually witnesses Daniel’s condition firsthand. He comes to the realization sleepwalking is an illness in which a person has no control. In a move that surprises even him, he reaches out to help and maybe fix Daniel. Nothing could have prepared him for what was about to transpire and ultimately change his life in ways he never could have imagined. I really liked Bel’s character. There were times I thought he was ready to throw in the towel, but he persevered. I found myself telling him out loud, “Don’t give up, keep going, Daniel needs you.” I think my husband thought I was a little nuts talking to the characters in the book I was reading. But, hey, I was invested in these characters, they couldn’t quit on me now. Bel didn’t disappoint me.
Daniel and Bel together took my breath away. Coming to a deeper understanding of what Daniel goes through on a daily basis is emotionally draining, filled with sadness, for Bel as well as the reader. The authors take us on a journey of an illness that has no cure, but makes us well aware that sometimes all a person needs is to feel loved to want to keep on living. Bel makes a lot of mistakes along the way in helping them both cope with what they’re dealing with. I loved that there wasn’t a quick fix; Daniel may never be fixed. The love, patience and emotional distress Bel puts himself through to be there for Daniel was overwhelmingly inspiring. For Daniel, Bel was someone he felt he didn’t deserve, but oh-so-desperately needed.
A little disclaimer I feel I should talk about is the BDSM in this story. I know it’s not everyone’s forte. It’s very light and the way in which it’s written, it almost goes by unnoticed. It fits with the story and is so tastefully written it isn’t just there for shock value. The authors do a great job in actually showing Bel doing his research, the two men having conversations. I really loved how the authors handled this aspect of the story. By having both men communicating in what they needed from each other was refreshing. The whole miscommunication runs rampant in a lot of these stories, and I applaud these authors for not going down that same path.
Overall, this is a heartwarming read, filled with sweet, tender moments, as well as some funny ones too, a bit on the dark side with some serious emotional issues, but we do get a HFN ending. I’m hoping the authors plan to revisit Daniel and Bel in the future. Something tells me their story isn’t over just yet.