Title: We Met in Dreams
Author: Rowan McAllister
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 268 Pages
At a Glance: If you are a fan of Regency romance, sweet, heartbreaking poignant stories of triumph which just might contain a ghost or two or three, then this is the book for you. I highly recommend it!
Reviewed By: Carrie
Blurb: In Victorian London, during a prolonged and pernicious fog, fantasy and reality are about to collide—at least in one man’s troubled mind.
A childhood fever left Arthur Middleton, Viscount Campden, seeing and hearing things no one else does, afraid of the world outside, and unable to function as a true peer of the realm. To protect him from himself—and to protect others from him—he spends his days heavily medicated and locked in his rooms, and his nights in darkness and solitude, tormented by visions, until a stranger appears.
This apparition is different. Fox says he’s a thief and not an entirely good sort of man, yet he returns night after night to ease Arthur’s loneliness without asking for anything in return. Fox might be the key that sets Arthur free, or he might deliver the final blow to Arthur’s tenuous grasp on sanity. Either way, real or imaginary, Arthur needs him too much to care.
Fox is only one of the many secrets and specters haunting Campden House, and Arthur will have to face them all in order to live the life of his dreams.
Review: Ahhh the FEELS! This book. Ugh. This book. It’s so good! This wasn’t just a book for me, it was an emotional experience. You just want to reach inside the pages and wrap these men up and hug them. You want to tell Arthur that with your enlightened 20th century sensibilities, you feel for him and that there is no reason for him to be treated like a pariah. You will weep for Arthur and then, consequently, Fox, and you will sympathize that this scenario could very well have happened in Regency London with their use of laudanum and overly superstitious ways.
McAllister sets us up right from the beginning, weaving a spell over us with the insidious fog outside the window and the mysterious thumps outside the door.
Ten. Arthur was ten, when his parents died and he contracted a fever (or did he?) which left him weak in body as well as mind. Ghosts and apparitions as well as mysterious noises are now a constant part of his existence. For his protection, as well as the protection of others, he is locked into his rooms. He spends his days under the influence of laudanum and is only allowed a daily ration of coal and food to live on. He is still a peer of the realm, so his imposed prison is a nice one, but it is still a prison.
Years. Years he has lived this way; it is all he knows. Till one night a man appears in his rooms. Thinking said man isn’t real, just another apparition come to haunt him, he talks to it…and finds a friend and, eventually, a lover. Here the imagery continues with Fox, a silver fox of a man sneaking into the hen house of Arthur’s life, and changing the man and his world in so many ways. We are unsure about the fox at first: is he friend or is he foe, sitting in the shadows of the room, never knowing when he will materialize? The Fox is drawn back, time and time again, until he realizes that what he has done is woo Arthur, that they have become two men who are hurting and are now finding solace in one another. It was almost too much. I could have used maybe a touch less influence on the front side of the story, the dark and dreary part, and a little more on the backside, which would be the happiness and sunshine part when Arthurs life is transformed by his love of Fox. I needed happy, craved it like the burning off of the fog McAllister writes about.
We Met in Dreams is a romance. It’s a ghost story. It’s a mystery. It’s an intense story of two men who need each other—physically, emotionally, and mentally. It’s character driven and a good deal of this story happens within the walls of just one room. It’s a story of breaking free of the chains we and others fashion for us, made up of good intentions. Yes, Fox has some very forward thinking ideas, but, ultimately, he is hindered also by the time period in which he lives. But only Fox could get Arthur to venture out of the walls he created inside his mind and start viewing the world as something to be experienced and not feared. Only when Arthur conquers his mental issues can he venture out past his locked rooms and become a man who can stand side by side with Fox. Arthur’s transition from being pursued to being the one pursuing is a heartwarming story of triumph.
There are layers of this story. When you finish it, you will ponder on it for days, discovering nuances in the story as it haunts you in retrospect. This review is hard because I don’t want to give anything away about the story. You need to read it and let it unfold for you as I did. Just know that I cannot recommend this book enough. I loved it. If you are a fan of Regency romance, sweet, heartbreaking poignant stories of triumph which just might contain a ghost or two or three, then this is the book for you. I highly recommend it!
You can buy We Met in Dreams here: