3 out of 4 stars
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Elizabeth Reinhart closed her heart to love but still keeps her mind actively open to creativity. The artistic librarian paints portraits of her Enchanted Forest's delightful inhabitants and enjoys the quiet life of taking care of her chronically ill mother.
What happens when those imagined creatures become more than a whimsical dream? In another dimension, the Enchanted Forest is quite alive with the bustling activities of the subjects of Beth's paintings. But the everyday lives of the furry forest dwellers are soon to be overshadowed by an imminent threat.
A serial killer with an equally artistic gift has created a Haunted Forest populated with dark and tortured creatures. As the lines between the dimensions begin to blur, Beth's forest friends will have to find a way to reach her for help. A sleeping dragon may be the key to saving the Enchanted Forest, but will Beth have the courage to face her fears and embrace the decision she must make?
I loved the blend of fantasy, romance, and suspense in M. J. Simon's Dragon Sleep. She introduced a unique cast of characters from the opening pages that included a serial killer, a giant rabbit, a rambunctious poodle mix, and a passionate artist. I enjoyed following the many plotlines as Simon transported me from the Enchanted Forest to Beth's home in Crescent Place. I even found lovable characters in the Haunted Forest, which came as a surprise to me, but once you meet Gerald, Lazarus, and Clara, you'll find them hard to resist too.
Despite the frequently changing points of view, I never felt lost in the story's linear progression. M. J. Simon kept the reader informed, and the settings and characters were distinct enough to make it clear where the scene was taking place and who was involved in the action. Some readers may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of characters across the Enchanted Forest, the Haunted Forest, and throughout Crescent Place. Still, if you are familiar with reading sci-fi/fantasy novels in general, I don't think you'll have a problem.
The hardest part to swallow was the switch from the story's sweet romance side to the dark and tortured scenes with the serial killer. It's a credit to the author's doctoral degree and career experience in clinical psychology that I believe made the killer's thoughts and actions so haunting and realistic. The darkness added authenticity to the threat faced and added a great deal of suspense to the novel. Yet, any sympathetic reader will still feel a sense of remorse for the tragic childhood that created the monster.
Overall, this book's developmental editing was spot on, with only one scene that I felt seemed out of place. Unfortunately, I found quite a few homophone errors, missing hyphens, and a few misplaced apostrophes that indicated the book would benefit from a final round of proofreading. Because there were more than ten errors, I took one star off the rating, leaving Dragon Sleep with three out of four stars. Adult readers looking for a delightfully engaging story with a sweet romance, fantasy elements, and a serial killer twist should find a good read within this enchanting book. The book contains the use of both mild language and R-rated language and an intimate sex scene. I would also caution readers who are uncomfortable with older people being the target victims as the killer does make them suffer. However, the author does keep these sections as tasteful as possible.
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