Title: In Dreams He Came
Author: Trina Lane
Cover Artist: Dan Skinner/Cerberus Inc.
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M romance
Length: Novel (210 pages)
Rating: 2 stars out of 5
A guest review by Leslie
In a nutshell: Pointless plot, inane dialog, and way too much sugar made this almost a DNF for me.
With a very active imagination and passion for all things history, University of California senior and veteran on the swim team Gabriel Mason often finds himself traveling to distant lands and times. There’s always one constant in Gabe’s dreams: a nameless man whose love completes Gabe’s soul. Gabe is waiting for someone special in his “real” life as well, and his best friend Phil is determined to find Gabe his elusive knight in shining armor.
Nick Jackson, a university alum and Olympic swimming champion, immediately recognizes the quiet young man from the swim team and convinces Gabe to give them a chance at building something special. Considering the palpable attraction between them, Nick surprises himself by quickly agreeing to take their budding relationship slow. Unfortunately, real life is not a fantasy, and Nick’s demanding schedule as a professional athlete and Gabe’s obligations to the swim team and his degree make finding time to spend together difficult.
Have the two men found everlasting love, or will it all prove to be just another dream?
I had high hopes for this book, based on the blurb but my expectations were quickly dashed within the first few pages. The blurb is quite accurate so no need to re-hash the story in this review. Instead, I’ll focus on what didn’t work for me. My issues might not be so problematic for other readers—hopefully this review will help you decide if you want to give this one a go.
First, dialog. Maybe I’m being picky, but I like books where the characters sound like real people. In this book, the characters are either lecturing each other, ie, “We have to deal with factors that average couples our age don’t,” or calling each other “My beloved knight,” and “My sweet prince.” There wasn’t a whole lot of in-between and it got tiresome to read.
Second, lush descriptions. Lapis lazuli eyes, pleasure akin “to a tsunami in the Pacific” (which made me cringe a little given recent worldwide events), and worst of all, lots of colorful descriptions of body parts, particularly genitalia. Overdone descriptions that stand in for storytelling get old very fast.
Third, there was an annoying tendency for things to happen off page. For example, Gabe and Nick meet one evening at a gay bar. Despite Gabe’s desire to save himself for his “sweet knight,” he starts making out with Nick immediately. Turn the page and it’s three weeks later. We learn that Nick and Gabe have been seeing each other with even more kissing involved. Again, maybe it’s a quirk of mine, but I like reading about the early days in a relationship and how it develops, not being told after-the-fact that the characters are getting along famously and look to be headed towards a long-term relationship. This happened repeatedly: swim meets, dinner dates, study sessions–you name it, we readers heard about it, but didn’t experience it. This is not a writing style I enjoy.
Fourth, there were tremendous inconsistencies. Another example: in the early part of the book, Gabe and Nick are open and affectionate with each other, both noting that they’d never hidden their sexuality and were out to their friends and teammates. Nick runs around and tells everyone he loves Gabe, even before he tells Gabe himself. So why, then, at about the two-thirds point of the book, does Nick start worrying about being outed? It made no sense to me. This was the most glaring example but inconsistent characters and actions were present throughout.
Fifth, the story just meandered and was superficial. Anytime there was a potential conflict or issue, it was glossed over or handled off page. Exciting events were also skipped over, ie, swim meets. We find out after the fact that Gabe came in first or Nick won a gang of gold medals at the Olympics. Huh?
At the 35% point of the book there was a bizarre scene with virginal Gabe having phone sex with Nick while Gabe is writhing on the floor of the college library, buried deep in the special collections stacks. That was the point where I really thought of giving up and throwing the book across the room, but I persisted, hoping against hope that the story would get better. Unfortunately for me, it didn’t but as reviewers often say here at the site, I’m just one reader and your opinion might vary. Even so, in good conscience, I can’t recommend this book.