Title: Sweet Dreams, My Love
Author: Julie Lynn Hayes
Publisher: eXtacy Books
Buy Link: Buy Link (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M Contemporary/Historical, Fairy Tale
Length: Novella (128 pdf pages)
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Cole
Review Summary: A sweet fairy tale (ala Sleeping Beauty) about a man locked in slumber, his true love that he visits in dreams, and their race to find a way to bring him back to life. The story was promising and started off well, but had several problems that kept me from loving it.
Can love conquer all? Is there such a thing as Fate? Do dreams really come true?
To help pay for his mother’s convalescence, Jakob Kohl leaves his musical studies in Germany in order to be a paid companion to his distant cousin Albert. It’s not a pleasant existence, but Jakob does get to travel to Paris, where he meets a beautiful man who asks for his help… a mysterious man no one else can see. Jakob soon fears he may be going crazy, because he finds himself falling in love with Damien, who says they were brought together by Fate—Jakob is the only one who can rescue Damien from the shadowy world where he sleeps and waits for his dream of everlasting love and freedom to come true.
The newest release in Dreamspinner’s Fairy Tale line, Sweet Dreams, My Love is the story of Damien, a child of the Moulin Rouge in Paris at the turn of the 20th century, and Jakob (pronounced Ya-kob) a german student who is visiting Paris as a paid companion/PA/beard/chauffeur to his cousin Albert, a wealthy and perennially horny man devoted to having every man in Paris. Jakob has had to drop out of music school to care for his ailing mother and is forced to take a job from his cousin, who no matter family status, treats him as a servant (and worse). Never worried about his health or feelings, Albert has been having Jakob drive him around Paris from date to booty call and back at all hours of the day and night. Jakob is tried and practically sleepwalking, and while spending time visiting the Louvre during one of his cousin’s trysts, a beautiful man with long platinum hair makes his acquaintence. After talking for a while, the man disappears and Jakob is confused until he happens to see him again later. Finally, Damien tells Jakob the story of his life and that Jakob is the first man who has ever seen him or spoken back to him.
Damien was born in the 1880s to a woman an the Moulin Rouge. Just as the woman started to give labor, she stumbled up on a back room at the club where twelve very famous and talented artists held a meeting of their secret club. There was no time to call for help, so the men helped the woman give birth to her child, and when they asked her about her plans for the child and she replied that she planned to toss him into the Seine, they begged her to give the little boy over to their care. Thus, Damien was raised with twelve very special fathers, moving month after month to each of their separate homes, learning different things from each of the different men. On his eighteenth birthday, they planned a very special coming out party for him, to finally induct him (now their protege as well) into their club. Eager to taste Absinthe for the very first time, Damien takes his celebatory drink only to find it has been poisoned, and only the green faery can save him from death. Yet, while she can save Damien from death, she cannot wake him altogether — and so for over one hundred years Damien sleeps, waiting for his true love to wake him up.
I must tell you that I really quite enjoyed this story — in fact, I couldn’t put it down. However, I felt like the further the story got towards the ending, the sloppier the writing and plot became, until the end disappointed me altogether. The best part, for sure, is the first half of the novella, where we get to know Damien and his fathers through him. These scenes are also very erotically charged, even though he is present in states of arousal (etc.) with his fathers and vice versa. Yet, there was no sex between them and their presence and the easy development of any activity into an orgy definitely made the setting of the Moulin Rouge come alive. I really loved the beginning because, though you will have to suspend your beliefs (this is a fairy tale, after all), I loved to see the interaction between all of his fathers (Toulouse Latrec, Monet, Degas, Renoit, and Cezanne to name a few) and himself.
I also loved Jakob, but I couldn’t love him as much as I wanted to because I never felt that I got to know him. Just as we see with all of the characters, they are all very clear characters, not people. I understand that this is more accepted in a fairy tale, but if they are supposed to be caricatures of typical fairy tale heroes, then I would expect them to revel in that role. Yet, here they are presented as if they are real people in a sudden paranormal situation, so I wanted to know more about them.
In essence, I found that this story seemed more like a short story when I thought back on it. There were times when I was reading that I noticed unimportant details. I think that if you were to edit this down to the bare essentials of the plot, you’d be left with a short story. With the amount of time the reader has to become involved with the story, there are certainly a lot of things left out, things which, in a short story, I wouldn’t hold against the author because of time constraints… but here, they leave holes in the story, namely the ending.
The biggest problem that I had with the ending is not that the danger abruptly ends (which it does), but that we don’t know why. We are given a glimpse of the villain in the beginning (whose identity is almost funny, actually), but he never returns in any capacity and we never know his real motivations (though you could read your own into it if you know anything about art history). On top of this, the way that danger is averted and the hero saves the day is completely unoriginal and the idea is even cited from a bad horror movie.
This is a good story that I enjoyed, but I think that it never decided what kind of story it wanted to be. Sure, you can blur the lines a bit, but this story suffered because the author didn’t make a firm decision. There were parts of the story that made me stop and wonder if I was reading the whole thing wrong. Is this supposed to be funny? But then, the rest of the story was so earnestly narrated that I doubted it was. It left me with an unsatisfied feeling. Readers looking for a very light read and don’t sweat the small stuff (or in this case, medium-large, in my opinion) will enjoy this story. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t recommend this one.