Earlier this week I had the fortunate luck of meeting Ms. Blair on Twitter and learning about her book that is releasing on August 3rd, 2018. The more I learned about this book, the more I knew I had to read it. She was kind enough to provide me an advanced copy for me to read and review and here it is…
Title: Lucid Dreaming
Author: Heather Blair
Release: August 3, 2018
Publisher: Self Published
Alison Waverly was born into a family of science geniuses, but the brainiac gene apparently skipped her. Still, her artistic and literary passions are supported by her parents, especially her doting father Charles, who also happens to be the Chairman of the Psychology Department at the prestigious Grayson University. When Alison spies her father sitting in his office looking distressed, she learns that an unknown 27-year-old “kid” has been invited into the Psychology department without her father’s knowledge or approval. Quinn Kaneko, an eccentric, enigmatic figure who rarely wears shoes and looks as though he never sleeps, is surprisingly unobtrusive and quickly develops a lasting friendship with the formerly skeptical Charles and his fetching daughter.
Conventionally attractive, well-rounded and charming, Alison could date any man she wanted– so it comes as a surprise to everyone, including herself, when she begins to fall for her friend and former professor, Quinn. He is nothing like anyone she’s dated before, but as she matures, his unusual appearance, odd demeanor, and incomprehensible brilliance begin to intrigue her. Upon discovering her growing feelings for him, Quinn is equally surprised– and stunned to realize he has begun to feel a connection with Alison as well. Together they unearth a previously undiscovered world of romantic possibilities, their days and nights suddenly consumed with intense passion.
Taking the road less traveled comes with its own set of challenges, however, and the lovers quickly find out that being together will not be a walk in the park.
Quinn, the man who knows everything, is disillusioned by the fact that romance has stumped him, and when the underlying cause of his unorthodox behavior rears its ugly head, he is frustrated in trying not to entangle Alison. Meanwhile, Alison struggles to be supportive to a man who refuses to open up to her, concealing his darkest secrets, and constantly keeping her at arm’s length.
Can Alison learn how to love an enigma? Can Quinn learn how to be loved? And perhaps more importantly, is the continuous uphill climb even worth the reward?
I have spent an inordinate amount of time lately delving into the romance genre and finding things I liked and didn’t like within all of it. Through this interesting adventure, I managed to come across this book, “Lucid Dreaming” and this is one of those books that completely changes how you view an entire genre.
Blair writes this story as more than just a romance. It is raw. It is real. It’s painful to read but also completely satisfying at the same time. Her mature style of writing captivates you deep into the lives of these characters and the world she has created for them within New York City. The main characters in this story are Alison, the daughter of an Ivy League professor, and Quinn, a unique prodigy-minded character that most people would easily overlook and not think much about. The story begins with Alison being fresh into college and spans over 6 years. We watch her develop from a budding college freshman, into a strong-will woman who challenges the world around her.
Through the time covered in this book, we follow Alison, her father Charles and Quinn who is also a professor alongside Alison’s father. They develop a deep friendship that overtime turns into love for Alison and Quinn. But Quinn constantly keeps her at a distance, afraid that he will hurt her with his past and the secrets that he holds. Their relationship develops deeper and they are eventually faced with a decision, does he tell her his dark past and risk losing her forever, or do they give up on the love they have found so that they can protect themselves?
I would certainly classify this is a romantic suspense novel as there is a noticeable underlying tragedy that forces Quinn, Alison’s love interest, to keep her at bay and not entirely let her in. You see in the synopsis that Quinn is an enigma; no one seems to understand him, but most tolerate him just fine as he is a harmless professor that just so happens to love wearing no shoes and pajama pants as part of his staple wardrobe.
As the romance really kicks into high gear and their feelings are becoming more intense, Quinn forces Alison away because he is afraid of her knowing who he really is. But as the mystery unravels between Alison and Quinn, they find that their love for each other is far stronger than either of them ever believed possible.
This is an important novel for our time and will be relevant to a whole lot of people. We all have a past, some of us with deeper, darker secrets that haunt us and have created the person we are today. Quinn has a past that no one he cares about really understands and this is what has made him such a quirky, but lovable, character. The passion between him and Alison, the way Blair writes about it, you feel like you are actually there in that room with them. I will warn readers though, that there should be some trigger warnings on this novel as it includes material related to child sexual exploitation and could be an issue for some readers that are sensitive to this.
In summary, I found this novel to be unique in its characterization of romance. Taking your standard romance novel of explicit love making and emotional turmoil, to one of sheer substance where we see the true human nature develop and morph into a lasting relationship that is built on trust and appreciation.
About the Author:
Heather Blair is an indie romance author original hailing from the Green Mountain State, Vermont. She holds a degree in Theater Arts and has been writing ever since her first project, The Tale of Chowder the Cat, garnered rave reviews from her first-grade teacher and parents. She dabbles in freelance voice over, podcasting and other hobbies that allow her to fangirl over her various fandoms. She currently resides in Connecticut with her two cats.
Fortunately the combination of drugs and time greatly improved both my health and my mood. By lunch I was feeling like my normal self again, but a text message from Quinn indicated that he was not feeling normal at all.
Q: Don’t come over. I am death incarnate.
A: Is this a dramatic way of saying you’re sick?
A: Then I’ll see you in a few hours with some hot chicken soup
Q: Save yourself.
A: Never. I will go down with this ship
I let myself in, using the key he’d given me for the first time. I carried with me a paper bag of goodies including the promised soup, Echinacea tea bags, a box of extra soft tissues with lotion, Dayquil and Nyquil liquid capsules, and a jar of VapoRub.
Quinn didn’t specify what kind of sick he was, and it occurred to me he might in fact not have a cold at all. For all I knew he was passed out on the toilet with a raging stomach flu.
But when I walked in on him in his briefs, sprawled out on his bed like a starfish mouth breathing and surrounded by balled up toilet paper I knew my instincts had not failed me.
“Oh brother,” I sighed softly, shaking my head at the sight. He cracked open one eye pathetically and managed a nasally “Hello”.
“Hello to you.”
“Please look away. I’m hideous.”
His attempt at humor at least let me know he wasn’t knocking on death’s door. I knelt onto the mattress and lay the back of my hand on his forehead. I swear I heard sizzling.
“Holy shit, Quinn! You’re on fire.”
“I assumed I was in hell already until you walked in.”
“Hm, I like you this way. You’re funnier.”
“Make it stop or make me die.”
I retreated to the kitchen where I proceeded to soak his one and only dish towel in cold water. Hopeful curiosity drove me to open his freezer and I was pleasantly surprised to find a box of cherry Popsicles within.
“Popsicles?” I asked him incredulously as I lay the wet cloth across his infernal forehead. “You own virtually no food, but you have Popsicle?”
“They are yummy,” he moaned.
“Then eat one now,” I said unwrapping one.
He said nothing, but took it from me, licking it haphazardly. Then he paused, turning his head at a snail’s pace on the pillow to look at me.
“You should eat one too.”
“Alright, you perv.”
He was too weak to defend himself, sighing as he watched me suck on it. After a few moments he surrendered his half–eaten Popsicle to me. It looked as though it exhausted him just to hold it.
“I can’t do it anymore.”
After tossing the remains of the Popsicle in the sink, I poured a large glass of cold water and popped a couple of Nyquil out of the packaging. When I returned to the bedroom, drugs in hand, I felt every bit the nurse.
He sat up with a visible struggle, swallowed the capsules and collapsed again.
“Wait, were those the sleeping kind?”
“But it’s daytime.”
“Time of day is irrelevant when your body is baking itself from within. You need to sleep.”
“That’s how you heal, genius. You don’t need me to tell you that. Here, let me make the towel cold again.”
I took my own nap on the beanbag in the living room while he died slowly in his bedroom. I really wanted to be in bed with him. I didn’t care about snotty tissues or germs but I knew he was frying and that any part of me touching him would have been pure misery. So, like a good nurse, I left him alone to fall into a medically induced mini coma.
I dozed for about thirty minutes before tiptoeing back to check on him. What I saw was something rare and wondrous.
It was Quinn, fast asleep and snoring.
To see an insomniac in a deep sleep is akin to watching rain fall on droughted fields. I was afraid to breath lest I somehow disturb such a beautiful phenomenon.
Sure, he was no majestic vision with his nose all red, a small trail of drool escaping from the corner of his mouth and hair like an electrified sea urchin, but he was at peace, temporarily unconscious of his extreme discomfort.
I heard a version of my name being spoken from down the hall some time later.
“Alisid,” said the voice. “Alisiiid.”
When I appeared Quinn had burritoed himself in the covers up to his chin, teeth practically chattering with cold.
“Oh, you poor thing,” I consoled.
He unfurled part of his tortilla so that I might curl up beside and bestow upon him the gift of my body heat. I was happy to give it, even if it meant sacrificing my own health. Fuck it. I had plenty of unused sick days.
Once I was in little spoon position, I re–wrapped us. His forehead met the back of my head as he snuggled in as close as possible without somehow absorbing into me. It was like sleeping beside a raging fire, but I endured. And before long, the glorious sound of his snoring came once again.
Having gone to bed so early, I woke up just before the sun to a poke in my behind.
I sighed, smiling despite myself.
Quinn must have been awake because my exhale initiated a slow grinding movement from his hips.
“Quinn,” I whispered sharply.
“Mmm,” was his grumbly reply into my hair.
“Stop it. You’re too sick.”
He groaned angrily, not at me but at the sickness.
“I can handle it, I swear,” he mumbled, the gravelly, nasally quality of his voice betraying him.
“Forget it,” I said dismissively. He released a sigh of defeat, but the poke did not go away for several minutes.
I woke up again just before nine, an hour I deemed reasonable for getting out of bed. Quinn had rolled onto his back, presumably to prevent his nose from running, since he’d haphazardly wedged a tissue up each nostril.
“Hm, this must be the man–child thing you were talking about,” I giggled quietly to myself, but his eyes flashed open, plainly annoyed.
He sat up and scooted back until the wall supported his back, pulling the tissues from his nose and sniffling. I sat up with him, rubbing his beautiful shoulders lightly.
“This is hubiliating,” he said, with another sniffle.
“Everyone gets sick, Quinn. Just promise me, when I’m in your shoes someday, you’ll remember that I didn’t judge you.”
“You’ll probably be in my shoes soon if you don’t get away from me.”
“By this point I think the damage is done. I’m going to make you some tea. I think I saw something minty in there. That should help with the nose stuff. I’ll bring some Dayquil too.”
When I returned with the promised items Quinn accepted them with heartwarming gratitude in his sad, sleepy eyes.
“You’re the best,” he said. “I don’t deserve you.” He popped the pills in his mouth and swallowed them with the tea, wincing from the scalding heat.
“You could have let it cool down a second!” I chided, but he just tilted his head back against the wall and reveled in the feeling of the hot liquid flushing out his system.
“I saw you sleep last night,” I told him. “I’ve never really seen you sleep before.”
He looked over at me using only his eyes.
“It’s difficult for me to sleep. My mind doesn’t know how to turn itself off.”
“But you have to sleep sometimes.”
“Of course. I get a few hours here and there. Usually they are not restful. I often have—” He stopped himself. “God this cold is making my head foggy.”
“You often have what?” I asked, ignoring his very intentional tangent. He knew he’d said too much and hesitantly finished his sentence.
“I often have nightmares.”
“They are awful. It’s more pleasant just to stay awake.” He smiled and turned his head to me. “Especially now that I have you.”
“I’m not here all of the time,” I reminded him.
“Yes you are,” he said.
I swallowed. God damnit, I wanted to kiss him. But I didn’t. He only had one fully functioning airway and it wouldn’t have been wise for me to block it.
Instead I reached to touch his hair. It was moist with sweat. I lifted the covers from his waist and saw the sheets were soaked too.
“Your fever broke!”
“I thought I felt even more disgusting than before,” he denoted unenthusiastically. “I think I’ll take a shower.”
“Good idea. I’ll change your sheets. You do own another set, right?”
“Just one. Hall closet.”
“Two sets of sheets? I’m impressed.”
He huffed a laugh through his teeth as he crawled to his feet.