Friday, October 19, 2007

Paul's Dream by Rowan McBride

TITLE: Paul’s Dream
AUTHOR: Rowan McBride
PUBLISHER: Liquid Silver Books
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 61k)
GENRE: Paranormal gay erotic romance
COST: $5.95

Lawyer Paul Graham is as cool as they come. Until a mysterious man shows up in his life and turns it upside down. Kian seems familiar, but Paul can’t remember saving him from a magical enslavement four years earlier. That doesn’t stop Kian from setting out to seduce Paul, though, using every ounce of his incubus magic. Paul responds, coming to life in ways he never knew were possible, but Kian isn’t his first exposure to the supernatural. Unknown to himself, Paul is a dream walker, a cipher, a human with the ability to go into others’ dreams, solve the puzzles, and give the person the one thing he wants the most. Together, they burn brighter than the hottest fires, but old obsessions and forgotten memories threaten to tear them apart forever.

Have I really not reviewed a gay romance in a month? Shame on me. At least the one I’m reviewing today is a keeper. That’s a bonus, right?

When I say keeper, I mean a book that’s going to linger with me for quite a while. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to re-read it again any time soon, but Paul, the icy lawyer in this, got to me so much that I almost cried in the climax. I’m probably a sucker for a damaged man, and frankly, Paul is as damaged as they come. Closed off. Doesn’t believe in love. Doesn’t really know what passion is until Kian comes into his life. He’s cool and efficient, and when chaos gets thrown into his well-ordered world, he has absolutely no idea what to do so he closes off even more. It takes a lot of love and determination to break through all that, which Kian manages to do. And it’s the glimpses of the vulnerability Paul is constantly trying to hide that suckerpunch me into falling for him almost as quickly as Kian does.

I wish I loved Kian more, though. I know why he’s the way he is – with as unfeeling and uncommunicative as Paul can be, his effusive passion is more than necessary – but after a while, it grated on me. I was good with Kian in small doses – though all the purring was driving me crazy – but more than that, and there were points midway through where I started to wonder how much more I could take. He’s seemingly perfect, and really, perfect is boring. At least, most of the time it is.

All of that disappeared as soon as the last third of the story swung into motion. Just like the first third, it’s tightly written, evocative, and emotional without being maudlin. Read it out of context and it might not seem that way, but honestly, after 40k+ of Paul’s standoffishness, his declarations hit deep. Because I knew he meant them. Add in the very visual scenes the author painted, and I was sucked into the story more thoroughly than I had been for the first 40k. It’s haunting, heartbreaking, and horrific, all at the same time.

This is Book One of the Touching Fire series, and the author has done excellent work in laying out the groundwork for the next books. There are a multitude of secondary characters in this who could be central in future stories, but if readers get a vote, I vote for Asher. Asher is Paul’s best friend and New York’s Guardian of Magic. He’s funny, and hot, and sexy is hell. I think he definitely deserves his own story. :)


9/10 – Intense and evocative. I devoured this.

Hero #1

9/10 – Maybe I’m a sucker for damaged men, but Paul is the reason I came thisclose to crying in the climax

Hero #2

6/10 – Kian’s perfection grates in long doses for me, though he’s an excellent counterpart to the icy Paul

Entertainment value

8/10 – There were a couple points midway through the story where it dragged for me, but the whole last third had me wound up tight enough to spring when it resolved itself.

World building

9/10 – Some great work here, details used in fresh ways that never seems trite




Teddy Pig said...

OK now I guess I should read this. The blurb seemed so blah though.

Anonymous said...

I keep hearing good things about this book. I'm going to have to pick it up. That and Stephanie Vaughan's Offworld: Sanctuary. I'm hoping All Romance Ebooks carries them.

Anyway, thanks for the interesting review!

Hot Sauce Reviews said...

Isn't Paul adorable? The author does an excellent job in portraying an icy and damaged hero without turning him into an unnecessarily cruel twit. Like you, I probably won't care for Kian if he doesn't make a good contrast for Paul.

Book Utopia Mom said...

It was the excerpt that got me, Teddy.

The thing I liked about Paul is that he's cold but in a very real way. Distanced without being evil. I saw a lot of guys like him when I worked in corporate America. Being able to root a character in reality like that makes me invest more in him/her.

Jennifer McKenzie said...

I loved this book. It's the first M/M I've read (that didn't involve a menage or some weird shifter thing) and I couldn't believe how well it was written.
I'm waiting for McBride to come out with the next one....impatiently.