Waking Up In Romance
The Dream Alchemist is set partly in the ‘real’ waking world and partly in Somnus, my imagined world of dreams.
One of my heroes, Bryn Llewelyn, is a dreamwalker. To a dreamwalker, Somnus is as real as the waking world, probably more so, in Bryn’s case, given that his constant attempts to stay awake lead to endless weariness that mutes his senses so that he doesn’t feel hunger or desire.
My other hero, Laszlo Grimm, is in many ways the opposite of Bryn. He is oblivious in Somnus—he doesn’t dream at all—and his physical senses in the real world are keen and vigorous. But Laszlo too has a difficulty with feeling—though in his case, it is inability to feel emotion rather than sensory things.
I really liked the idea of these contrasting heroes, and the questions their respective issues raised about the realities they experience. Was Bryn’s time in the waking world more ‘real’ than his time in Somnus even though his personal experience of it was less vivid? Were Laszlo’s experiences less ‘real’ for only having a physical perspective and no emotional one?
Both Bryn and Laszlo have parts to them that are dormant and locked away, parts that the other hero is the key to opening. That idea of awakening and unlocking—literally arousing—is an age old one in romance, and indeed in fairy tales.
There are two fairy tales—Sleeping Beauty and The Snow Queen—that were particular inspirations for The Dream Alchemist. In Sleeping Beauty the heroine is literally dormant (as Bryn is for much of the time in The Dream Alchemist). And in The Snow Queen, the hero grows emotionally cold (as Laszlo is) when splinters of a troll-mirror become lodged in his heart and eyes.
And in both tales?
The enchantment is broken by a kiss…
Centuries ago, a man with Bryn Llewelyn’s dreamwalking ability would have been a shaman or a priest. In this time, he’s merely exhausted, strung out on too much caffeine and too little sleep.
Sleep means descent into Somnus—an alternate reality constructed of the combined dreaming consciousness of ordinary humans. A place he’d rather avoid. Trouble is, his powers don’t include the ability to go without sleep indefinitely. At some point his eyes close…and his nightmare begins.
As a teen, the treatment that cured Laszlo Grimm’s sleep disorder stole his dreams—and his ability to feel emotion. Petrified of needing more “treatment”, he clings to familiar rituals and habits. But lately his nightly terror has returned, and when he meets Bryn in the real world, the man seems hauntingly familiar. Not only that, Bryn awakens feelings in Laszlo for the first time in years…
Slowly Bryn and Laszlo realize they are both unknowing pawns in a plan of unspeakable evil. And that their powerful attraction could release the destinies locked within them—or be the instrument of their doom.
Excerpt: Laszlo settled his mouth on the soft, parted lips of his prisoner, his hands still loosely holding the man’s wrists over his head.
Christ, but the man’s mouth was delicious. When Laszlo pushed his tongue deeper, the other man met it with his own, kissing Laszlo back fiercely. His slim body arched against Laszlo, his narrow hips shifting to welcome the aggressive thrust of Laszlo’s groin. And, God, it was good, it was fantastic, like nothing he’d ever felt before. Something about it so right yet so unfamiliar, as though he’d never done this before.
It occurred to him, right then, that he never had done this before. Not that he hadn’t kissed another man, but that he’d never felt this. Not just a physical hardening of his cock, but something much less corporeal, something that twisted him up inside and made his blood sing.
This was new; it was new and it was wonderful. He wanted to hold this feeling forever. It was ridiculous, and he knew it, but he knew too that it was true. That this was real in a way nothing had ever been so real before.
He tore his mouth away and whispered, “What is this? What’s happening to me?”
And in that instant, something shrieked—an alarm—the sound of it grabbing him by the balls and hauling him unceremoniously out of his dream.
Author Bio: Joanna Chambers always wanted to write but she didn’t find her muse until she rediscovered her love of romance novels after the birth of her first child. These days, Joanna lives in the UK with her family and finds time to write by eschewing sleep and popular culture. You can find Joanna at her website, www.joannachambers.com, friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @ChambersJoanna and connect with her on Goodreads
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