One chapter into this and my book-loving cells were humming. I cared about these characters and wanted… well, I just wanted. Come and meet Bel and Daniel. Trust me when I say you’ll never want to let them go.
Title: When All the World Sleeps
Author: Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
From the Publisher:
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.
Fighting through the fear to get what you need, what you deserve…
No matter the setting, no matter the scene, this is about two people getting to know each other under and surrounded by and in spite of a history filled with difficult circumstances. Everything is handled beautifully, realistically and in most human terms. I may not be anything like these characters in many ways, but I could relate, I understood their feelings and wanted them to get that better life they not only needed but deserved.
This tough world is expertly built. It shows in that in-between place, where realization comes from connection. It’s that ‘something’ I crave in a story, even if I don’t realize it until it snaps me awake. It’s that intangible thing that we all recognize but would be hard pressed to truly describe. In other words, as I make my attempt to do just that, it’s to know human behavior and translate that to the page. That is painted on every worn board of a cabin, unassumingly glistens in the puddles on the street, echoes in the gentle zippering of a sleeping bag, floats on the bravery of an admission, and it cradles the future when it’s permitted to view its own creation.
Bel gets Daniel. Gets what he needs, and that isn’t always what Daniel thinks it is. Bel helps him change. Actually, he helps Daniel become who he really is more than ever before in his life. Through the simplest of gestures, he shows Daniel things, gives him things he not only needs but allows himself to want. How great is that? And dare I say, it’s fucking sweet. The sweetness amidst the hell from which Daniel is trying to free himself. Isn’t that something we all want? Like I said, human behavior, understanding it and knowing how to present it in recognizable, relatable and desirable ways that are inescapable in their truth.
About half of the way through, I realized I felt “sunk in”. I was in that town, with them, with the fear, hope, anxiety, the thrills and disappointment, and the happiness. These undercurrents never left me and I didn’t want to leave this place or these two guys.
The pace of the story never felt rushed and nothing dragged.
Each supporting character played their role in both furthering what was happening between Bel and Daniel and providing outlets for revelations about them, between them. This leads to something else well done: the point of view. We get into the heads of both men but without the use of the sometimes alienating nature of first person. This is not an easy thing to do. It works. I didn’t really ever wonder what I might be missing unless one of them decided we weren’t to know.
A shout-out to Bel’s friend. She shows what it means to have faith in someone and the guts to follow that faith, no matter what anyone else says or thinks. She’s smart, humorous, caring and honest to a fault. I dig it. I dig her. She doesn’t give up and works hard at it.
The dialogue was natural, the writing flowed, never feeling disjointed or disconnected despite the co-authorship. I think by now it’s safe to say that these two were meant to create stories together.
I will warn you that a couple of terms most of us find offensive are used in regular conversation. Not overly so, but they unwaveringly show what kind of place in which Bel and Daniel are living and the number and types of challenges they face daily, and have for their entire lives.
The BDSM elements are quite varied. The heavier incidents come more from memories being recalled, while the lighter activities are those that actually occur between Bel and Daniel. They fall more into the after-care realm in the way they feel. It’s almost the opposite of exploration while still learning something.
You know when you’re reading and you’re torn between wanting to speed ahead to find out what happens, and yet you want to go slow, not miss a word, make it last as long as humanly possible? Yeah. That. Here. Me. Totally.
This story didn’t take the path that I had expected, given the beginning, but it took the path I’d hoped … and more. For me, these two writers made the right decision for the story and the right choices for Bel and Daniel.
Speaking of choices, these two men have to make some difficult ones. The kinds of choices that make me ask, ‘Would I do the same if I were in similar situations?’ I love it when writers make me work for my story. When they make it tough, make me think. I get all of that with this story. Of all of the things I may say about this book, and if this is something you also love when reading, don’t let hesitation enter your mind. It’ll merely delay the inevitable unforgettable experience of reading about Bel and Daniel.
If I could broaden the definitions of words like ‘experience’ and ‘journey’ so that they properly conveyed the high levels of emotion, discomfort and ultimate safety I felt when reading this, then I’d use them. Actually, that may be the key: Ms Henry and Ms Rock made me feel safe in reading this, deftly leading me through all of the sharp brambles and soft embraces. As I began to reach the end, my heart was in my throat and I literally had one hand entangled in my hair, grasping, waiting, hoping, really wanting it all to turn out with at least a chance for… well, whatever Bel and Daniel decided they wanted with each other. This kind of letting go while reading a story only happens when writers know their characters so well. I can fall right along with them and know I’ll survive, having been treated just as fairly as the characters in service to the story.
The ending is one of those that isn’t really an ending, at least not in terms existence for Bel and Daniel. They have many unanswered questions, decisions to make and hopefully good times and love to share. Only time will tell. Maybe we’ll get more of that time in the future? Hmmm? 😉
This is a complicated story that gave me the uncomplicated pleasure of reading a book that I wish I could turn right around and revel in for the first time all over again.
I would like to thank Riptide Publishing for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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