Title: Dreams of a Hero
Author: Charlie Cochrane
Cover art: n/a
Publisher: Carina Press
Buy link: Dreams of a Hero
Length: 17,000 words/75 PDF pages
Genre: Contemporary M/M romance
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
A guest review by LadyM
Review summary: Charming, gentle and humorous, this story about an established couple tells us how we can be heroes without weapons and how we can learn things about our loved ones even after years together. Britishness abound! In the best possible way.
Blurb: Mild-mannered and unassuming, Miles is on a journey he never expected. After a visit to Greece with his partner, Roger, he begins to experience vivid dreams in which he travels back in history and takes on the role of avenging hero.
Roger notices Miles’s newfound bravery during his waking hours and is concerned that his lover is changing into someone he doesn’t recognize.
When they discover a gay-friendly café is being plagued by violent thugs, Miles is uncharacteristically determined to take action, no matter the cost. Roger argues it would be both dangerous and pointless to intervene, but Miles insists he’s been called to fight an army, and now he’s found one.
From the moment Miles Storrie and Roger Searle, two Englishmen from Surrey, appeared on the page, I was captured. They are a couple of gentle men and gentlemen, comfortable in their lives and their four-year relationship. Miles is an accountant and Roger, a writer with a trust fund. At the beginning of the story, they are on vacation in Greece. Roger comes across as a dreamer, caught up in Greek history and its stories, while Miles seems more interested in the beaches and general relaxation. However, after visiting an exhibition of Agamemnon’s mask and talking about Alexander the Great, Miles starts having dreams in which he and Roger are members of the Sacred Band of Thebes fighting against Philip II and his son Alexander at Chaeronea. While the legend says that no one of the lovers fighting in the Band survived, Miles’s dreams differ from it: if in the dream he defies Alexander then Roger and him survive.
Flash forward a few months. The men are in Massachusetts for the second part of their vacation – chosen by Miles. In the local gay (or at least gay friendly) bar they meet lawyer Ian Strauss who explains them the strange atmosphere in the bar: the guests are harassed by the two newcomers in town, father and son, and they are pretty certain the two of them are behind the beating of a gay couple. Miles decides that they have to fight back which, naturally, concerns Roger. Because how can mild-mannered Miles be a match to these two bullies? But, Miles just might be a hero and not only in his dreams.
There were several things I really, really liked about this story, but mainly I liked Miles and Roger. Or, better said, I liked the way Cochrane wrote them. They are so British! But, although author uses some stereotypes, they are not over the top. The way she played with them was actually fun, lightly mocking both her characters and their new American acquaintances with, for example, their complaints about American fascination with their accents (Harry Potter!), views of Great Britain and American food. And, since I’m childish like that, the mentioning of Blackadder gave me thrill. Primarily, though, I liked Miles and Roger together and that is, in my opinion the best part of this story. While I tagged this story as “romance”, these two men are actually living their “happily ever after” and that is something we rarely see in this genre. They are gentle with each other, loving and secure in their relationship, able to see each others flaws and often playful. The gentle humor throughout the story made me smile. Additionally, as Roger discovers, our loved ones are often hiding unexpected depths and are able to surprise us, the way Miles surprises him with his “battle plan”. And, no, I won’t tell you how Miles dealt with the bullies. You’ll have to read the story to find out.
Another thing that I always admired in Cochrane’s stories, including this one, is her writing style. It’s both evocative and lyrical; it envelops you comfortably like a blanket and draws you in the story so that you never want to leave. This is one of the reasons why I like reading.
I have one small complaint. The dream sections sometimes interrupted the narrative, though not enough to pull me out of the story. Additionally, and this is completely my selfish wish, I wanted to know more about Miles and Roger, like how have they met, fell in love, something about their past lives and families, etc.
Overall, this was another great story from Charlie Cochrane and if she ever decides to come back (or go back) to these two characters I will certainly read it. Highly recommended.