Book Reviews

We Met in Dreams by Rowan McAllister at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Historical / 18th Century / Royalty/Nobility / Ghosts/Spirits/Hauntings / Romance / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 18-March-2017

Book Blurb

In Victorian London, during a prolonged and pernicious fog, fantasy and reality are about to collide—at least in one man’s troubled mind.


A childhood fever left Arthur Middleton, Viscount Campden, seeing and hearing things no one else does, afraid of the world outside, and unable to function as a true peer of the realm. To protect him from himself—and to protect others from him—he spends his days heavily medicated and locked in his rooms, and his nights in darkness and solitude, tormented by visions, until a stranger appears.


This apparition is different. Fox says he’s a thief and not an entirely good sort of man, yet he returns night after night to ease Arthur’s loneliness without asking for anything in return. Fox might be the key that sets Arthur free, or he might deliver the final blow to Arthur’s tenuous grasp on sanity. Either way, real or imaginary, Arthur needs him too much to care.


Fox is only one of the many secrets and specters haunting Campden House, and Arthur will have to face them all in order to live the life of his dreams.


Book Review

“You know, you are the only person who has ever even suggested to me that my illness is a gift instead of a curse?...You see me differently than anyone else. You allow me to see myself differently, and I want you to know how much I treasure that...” ~ Rowan McAllister (We Met in Dreams)

Due to his mental illness, Arthur Middleton's universe in 'We Met In Dreams' by Rowan McAllister consists of a few rooms in the mansion he inherited from his father. Yet Arthur is still considered master of the house and, when called for, uses his title of viscount. His uncle is an austere but caring man who takes care of all business of the estate for Arthur. He is doing the best he knows how for his nephew by keeping him home, under a doctor's supervision; he refuses to put him in an asylum and forget about him. For the most part, Arthur is resigned to his fate. He seldom questions the recommended treatment of confinement and daily doses of laudanum to control his behavior; nor does Arthur question the necessity of being locked in his rooms while he waits to get better; Arthur has been “waiting” for ten years.

Arthur only interacts with a few people: his uncle, Pendel, his trusted caregiver, and a few servants. Arthur has his pianoforte and his books, but he misses having companionship. He's haunted by sights and sounds no one else can see, particularly one of a woman in a long flowing gown, that helps convince him more than ever that he's mad. Arthur has never hurt anyone; he is locked away as a precaution. Arthur's illness is enabled by his doctor who, instead of seeing if he can cut down on the laudanum he's dosed with every day, continues to give it to him, although there seems to be no good reason for it. There's little wonder when Arthur has a visit from someone he's never heard or seen before, that he thinks the man is a figment of his overactive imagination. Imagined or not, the stranger is company so Arthur begins to talk to his “visitor” who calls himself Fox.

Fox is a thief, one who has come to steal from the estate but is discovered by Arthur instead. He's even more surprised at Arthur's reaction to him and amused that Arthur thinks he's a hallucination and not a real man. Yet, Fox is such good company that Arthur asks Fox to return. As the visits continue and Fox listens to Arthur's story, he grows concerned for him. Fox begins to think that Arthur isn't as ill as the people around him seem to think and that Arthur is capable of doing much more than he's allowed to do now. Fox can see that Arthur is becoming stronger and is less inclined to listen to what his uncle and the doctor says about what's best for him.

Every time I thought I'd figured out one of the mysteries, Rowan would add another twist sending my mind skittering away from that idea to another. It was “irritating” and challenging at the same time. The biggest question I had was what was real and what was fantastical. It was seriously difficult to tell. This element added another layer to the story that I enjoyed very much. There is the serious yet quite important subject of mental illness and how much it has changed but how far care still needs to go. Since Arthur tells the story, it is difficult to know what is happening or what he is imagining. My heart ached for him and his rudimentary treatment, but I understood that back then, they had even less of an idea of what to do. I regretted that the last part of the story ended so soon because I wasn't ready to let go of Arthur and Fox. Thank you, Rowan, for the intriguing tale.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 268 pages/98457 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 27-February-2017
Price $6.99 ebook, $16.99 paperback, $16.99 bundle
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