>> Sunday, September 12, 2010
TITLE: Dream of Me
AUTHOR: Lisa Cach
SETTING: 15th century in what is now Romania
TYPE: Paranormal romance
SERIES: Related to Come To Me.
REASON FOR READING: This is one that's been in my TBR for ages, since it came out about 6 years ago, actually. I brought it back from Uruguay with me last year, and finally picked it up after seeing people talking about it on twitter recently.
Theron, undying creature of the Night World, knew everything about making love. But though he was an incubus, a bringer of carnal visions to sleeping maids, he had grander ambitions. He plotted to step into the mortal world and rule as king.Theron is an incubus, a demon who specialises in bringing sexual dreams to women. The role of incubi is to help women whose sex lives are not as they should be, whether it's showing the bride with an inexperienced and clumsy groom how she can show him what to do, or a woman who's been raped that sex can be pleasurable. No matter how worthy the work, however, after 4,000 years, Theron wants more. Incubi don't experience any feelings themselves. They don't love, they don't even experience desire, beyond a sort of mirroring of what the women they help are feeling. Theron is tired of this, and wants to be human.
The beautiful Lucia was imprisoned in a fortress atop a mountain. Her betrothed, Prince Vlad of Wallachia, wanted her purity intact; but when the prince broke a vow to Theron, nothing could keep her safe. The girl would be subjected to Theron's seduction; she would learn all his lips might teach.
A demon of lust and a sheltered princess: each dreamed of what they’d never had. They were about to get everything they wished…and more.
His big plan is to trick a human into inviting him into his body, and then refuse to leave. But the first human who calls him is more than he bargained for. Vlad, ruler of one of the kingdoms in the area that is now Romania is a hard, cruel man and hugely ambitious. What he wants from Theron is help conquering a few more kingdoms. Theron is to use his powers to make sure the king of Maramures breaks his sister Lucia's engagement to a rival prince, and betroths her to Vlad. That way Vlad gets both military help, and a young, innocent, virginal bride (and Vlad is really into his virgins, deflowering as many as he can, whether they want it or not). In return, once Vlad's managed to conquer the kingdom's he's after, but before he marries, he'll allow Theron to take over his body for three days.
The bargain is struck, and Theron duly fulfills his part. But after 6 years, Vlad is still fighting his wars, even though the enemy's all but defeated, and Theron is getting impatient. And when he confronts Vlad, it becomes clear the man is planning to renege on his deal. Time to put in a bit of pressure on him, and Theron decides to make good on his threat to make sure Vlad's bride is not the innocent he wants her to be.
Right after her engagement with Vlad, Lucia was sent to an isolated castle on top of a mountain, which men are not allowed to enter, and she's been there ever since. She has not only been kept physically pure, she has also been kept shockingly ignorant. After so many years, she's curious and eager to know the world. She's also bored out of her skull. So when a demon starts visiting her dreams, she's very tempted.
This sort of book is why I'm sad Dorchester's ran into trouble. Back when it came out, they were the only ones publishing anything that was a bit different. And this certaily would have been.
It's a very imaginative story, with great characters. Theron is quite unique. I thought Cach did a very good job in showing how an incubus is completely different from a human man with wings and supernatural powers. He starts out quite heartless, doing some stuff that's truly disturbing in how amorally he reacts to it. But he's supposed to be that way. As a demon, he's not supposed to have a soul, and that makes the changes in him as the story develops even more remarkable. I thought it was a nice touch that at the beginning of the book it was well established that he was becoming less of a demon already, with yearnings he wasn't supposed to have. However, he didn't have a sense of other people, and getting to know Lucia changes him.
So I liked Theron's personal journey, but I have to say, Lucia's was even better. She starts out as this annoyingly childlike young woman. It is through no fault of her own, really. I mean, the woman's been locked up since she was a child and denied any knowledge of anything. It's no wonder that she craves knowledge, and none more than forbidden knowledge about sex, all the while clinging to girlish romantic fantasies. But really, she's so innocent that I feared I'd hate the book. But through her interactions with Theron, rather than give way to the infinitely more experienced 4000-year-old demon, Lucia grows. She grows more mature and she grows a lot stronger. By the end, she's in control, and Theron has only as much power over her as she gives him. In fact, she has a lot more power over him.
I really liked the romance up to the ending, which was a bit of a disappointment. First, it felt a bit deus ex machina and anticlimactic, with the rules changing suddenly and a character who was supposed to be merciless and 1000 times more inhuman than Theron ever was turning out to be a sweetie. But even worse was that Lucia betrays Theron in a way that I found unforgivable. It was completely pointless, as well, because the plan fails, and so neither has to deal with the consequences had it worked. And it was needless for her to do this. Her logic of why she had to was pretty faulty, IMO. It wasn't needed at all for plot purposes, it wasn't needed for character development, because it changes nothing in either of them. Even Theron, knowing exactly what has happened, just takes it in his stride. He's hurt, but it changes nothing at all. The only purpose it served, as far as I'm concerned, was to ruin some of my enjoyment of the book.
But not all, or even most of it, because I pretty much liked everything else, including the writing. I don't think there's anyone with a voice quite like Cach's. She's writing about a quite serious plot, and some awful things happen, but without ruining the angst, there are many touches of comedy. Some of the scenes with the truly vile, evil Vlad are extremely funny, and the scene where Theron first gives Lucia an erotic drem was truly hilarious (the image of the crotch monster... I'm still laughing!). The tone worked perfectly for this story, otherwise it might have been a bit dreary.
I'm very glad I dug this one out of the old pile, and I'm now looking forward to reading the companion book, Come To Me. It takes place at the same time as this one, and the glimpses I caught of what was going on with Theron's sucubus friend, Samira, were very intriguing.
MY GRADE: A solid B.