Book Reviews

When All the World Sleeps by Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock at Riptide Publishing

Genre Gay / Contemporary / BDSM / Erotic Romance / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by Christy Duke on 24-March-2014

Book Blurb

Daniel Whitlock is terrified of going to sleep. And rightly so: he sleepwalks, with no awareness or memory of his actions. Including burning down Kenny Cooper’s house—with Kenny inside it—after Kenny brutally beat him for being gay. Back in the tiny town of Logan after serving his prison sentence, Daniel isolates himself in a cabin in the woods and chains himself to his bed at night.

Like the rest of Logan, local cop Joe Belman doesn’t believe Daniel’s absurd defense. But when Bel saves Daniel from a retaliatory fire, he discovers that Daniel might not be what everyone thinks: killer, liar, tweaker, freak. Bel agrees to control Daniel at night—for the sake of the other townsfolk. Daniel’s fascinating, but Bel’s not going there.

Yet as he’s drawn further into Daniel’s dark world, Bel finds that he likes being in charge. And submitting to Bel gives Daniel the only peace he’s ever known. But Daniel’s demons won’t leave him alone, and he’ll need Bel’s help to slay them once and for all—assuming Bel is willing to risk everything to stand by him.


Book Review

"Sleepwalkers arise from the slow wave sleep stage in a state of low consciousness and perform activities that are usually performed during a state of full consciousness. These activities can be as benign as sitting up in bed, walking to the bathroom, and cleaning, or as hazardous as cooking, driving, violent gestures, grabbing at hallucinated objects, or even homicide." ~ Wikipedia

I can't imagine anything more terrifying than doing things while asleep, and to have no memory of it when I wake. That is Daniel Whitlock's life. At least, since he was a kid, anyway. His parents don’t believe him that he doesn’t remember anything he has done. They accuse Daniel of lying to them. While in high school he is able to exhaust his body enough by training on the cross country team so he can sleep through the night. When he goes away to college he doesn’t have that and it gets bad until he finds Marcus, a Dom, and if Marcus beats Daniel hard enough, into pure exhaustion, then he can sleep. That ends though because Marcus doesn’t want a sub who doesn’t get sexually stimulated by the pain. When Daniel barely graduates from college he comes home as he has no idea what to do or where to go. In a sleepwalking state Daniel comes on to the wrong guy, Kenny, and he beats him almost to death. Daniel doesn’t press charges, though, because how could he explain he didn't remember taunting Kenny? A year after that Daniel burns down Kenny's house with him in it, leaving Daniel to admit to the town about his "freakiness". Daniel is released after eight months and comes home again.

There is nothing more fascinating, in my mind, than the personalities of a small town. If you get tarred and feathered as a child, that brush follows you the rest of your life. Daniel was always known as the weird fag, and most everybody thought he did drugs and that's why he'd be out at all hours of the night. Joe Belman (Bel) was a few years younger than Daniel and he believed all of the talk, too, that Daniel was crazy and he got off easy by claiming he was "sleepwalking". But one night Bel begins to see that Daniel really is asleep, and when some locals try to burn down Daniel's cabin, Bel rescues him as Daniel's handcuffed himself to the bed. What begins next is Bel watching over Daniel at night, keeping him locked up, while also trying to help him by setting rules for Daniel to follow and insisting that Daniel see a therapist. Bel believes that if Daniel can talk about what goes on in his head during the day, perhaps his sleeping mind won't need to wander.

I have never in my life seen someone so bent on punishing himself like Daniel. It's not even all because of Kenny. Daniel has spent his whole life trying to do penance for something he can't control, but that his parents somehow convinced him he should've. He came home to this small, bigoted town, because in Daniel's mind he deserves all the hatred, the stares, the whispers. But sometimes Daniel's true self tries to escape and that self is angry; angry that Kenny got away with brutalizing him, angry that even though Daniel said he didn't know who did it, everyone in town knew it was Kenny and the police did nothing. I couldn't blame him for his rage.

This incredible book left me feeling a little sad. So heartbreaking to watch all that Daniel suffered and knowing that it might've been different if he'd made other choices. Or, maybe not. The worst was watching what should've been a happy time for Daniel and Bel - finding each other, falling in love - was always overshadowed by Daniel's sleepwalking and his mental state. Every night, night after night, Bel dealt with restraining his boyfriend, dealing with his nightmares, his sleep terror, and never really being sure if Daniel was awake or asleep. It made me love and respect both of them so much more for the courage they each showed as they struggled to make a life together work.

'When All the World Sleeps' was a beautifully written story and reinforces that these two authors work very well together. There was much about this book that I liked and a few things that I didn't. At the end, I was afraid I wasn't going to get resolution and a happy ever after for my guys. I would've liked it if the authors had added some more of Daniel's therapy and perhaps put him on a road to a better handle on his condition. However, just seeing Daniel and Bel get some measure of peace made everything worthwhile. At the heart of it, this story was about pain and the many ways it can be embraced or discarded. But, the pain can never, and should never, be forgotten.





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


Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 422 pages/110500 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 24-March-2014
Price $7.99 ebook, $17.99 paperback. $25.98 bundle
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