Connell Smyth spent thirty years loving a man so completely that now that he’s alone, he doesn’t know how to go on. Worse, as time passes Connell is forced to acknowledge the truth that he loved Jason more than Jason loved him. Now Jason is dead and whatever plans they might have made for the future have vanished. Connell is left with a transport business that he doesn’t enjoy and doesn’t manage well on his own. It’s no wonder he finds it easier to disappear into dreams rather than facing the reality of his new life. In those dreams, he meets a man, Wystan. Connell can’t help developing an attraction for the man and with a little digging, he discovers that Wystan is real and the sole survivor of a ship crash.
Wystan has been stranded on a planet by himself for nearly twenty years. He’s given up hope of rescue until he finds Connell, first in his dreams and then in the flesh. But Wystan has been so long out of the world he’s not sure he can rejoin it. And a dream lover isn’t quite the same as having a real man at his side, but if they can put the past behind them, Connell and Wystan could remake their futures.
New Reality left me in some ways satisfied and in other ways scratching my head. It’s a quick read and tends to cover a lot of ground in too short a time. It can almost be divided into sections. During the first, we see Connell struggling to come to terms with his lover’s death and failing in every way. Trapped in the midst of his depression, his only moments of joy seem to exist with a mystery man in a dreamscape. His journey to find Wystan and the uncharted planet, upon which he is stranded, is intriguing and engaging. Connell feels a bit one-dimensional, but his determination is relatable and makes this section of the story work fairly well. The author does a decent job of creating a man who has lost hope and, as a result, is free to take a gamble on the impossible.
It’s when we get to the second section of New Reality that things fall apart. Once Connell and Wystan meet, they immediately fall into bed and into love. It’s not quite instalove because they do have limited history in the dreamscape, but it doesn’t feel like a complete or fully formed relationship. The story from this point starts to move at a ridiculous speed, with whole months passing in a paragraph. This is in contrast to the first part of the book, which seemed to have a more relaxed and easy pace. Instead of allowing the story to progress naturally, everything is thrown into hyper drive and the end result left me feeling frustrated. Connell and Wystan are given a happily ever after, but it lacks depth and fails to mean much.
New Reality started off with an interesting premise and Connell’s search for Wystan is the highlight of this novella. But the story ends up rushed and stops its characters from fully developing. Unless you just love space romances, I’d give this one a pass.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.