This is book one of a nice “spin-off” from the Dark-Hunters series. While we have been acquainted with Dream-Hunters in past novels, (and a sweet little short story called “Phantom Lover”), we get a deeper involvement into their realm, their rules, and their feelings (for an unemotional bunch, they sure do have lots of feelings). While we are introduced to many new characters, the reader is not completely disoriented, as we are indulged with cameos (specifically Katra, who is an important character here) that help the tale evolve.
The majority of this story occurs in Greece, while Megeara Kafieri (Geary) takes her boat and crew on an expedition to find Atlantis. Being from a long line of archeologists, she is determined to help her deceased father regain his reputation (previously ruined by scholars who found his obsession with Atlantis to be ridiculous). While she too, once scoffed at his beliefs, a few ancient coins convince her to continue his crusade.
“If it takes me the rest of my life, I’m going to fulfill my word to you. We will find Atlantis. I swear it.”
But even as she spoke those words that were filled with her conviction, she couldn’t help wondering if she’d be able to withstand the ridicule her father had borne all of his professional life. Just six weeks ago she’d been granted her doctorate from Yale and she was supposed to be teaching in New York this fall. She was young to have attained so much, and great things were expected of her…by her and by the institutions and professors who’d bestowed that doctorate on her.
To walk this course would be nine kinds of stupid.
While she is usually serious and unemotional in public, she escapes when she sleeps and is frequently visited in her dreams by a gorgeous stranger named Arikos.
Arikos dipped his head down and captured her lips with his. Geary moaned at the sweet taste of him. There was no one on earth who tasted the way he did. No one who felt better in her arms, which was probably why he was relegated to her dreams.
But she was so glad to have him here.
She believes her subconscious has conjured him into her dreams. In reality, he is an ex-Oneroi (dream gods who “police” the Skoti), now turned Skotos (a god who can only feel emotions by feeding off of the dreams of humans), due to a malicious trick by his brother Solin. Geary’s vivid dreams attracted him to her, and they have developed an intense connection.
“You’ve been spending too much time with the human. You need to move on to another.”
That was the way of it. A Skotos such as Arik was only tolerated to help drain humans of excess emotions. If Skoti spent too long with one person, they could, in theory, make the person go mad or even kill them.
The Skoti were normally given a single warning and if they failed to heed it, an Oneroi would be selected to either punish or eliminate them from existence. M’Ordant was one of many who monitored human sleep and who kept the Skoti in line.
“And if I don’t want to leave her?”
“Are you being argumentative?”
Arik gave him an arch stare. “How could I be?”
“Then you are done with her.” M’Ordant vanished.
The wisest course of action would be to heed his warning. But Arik was too drawn to his human to pay attention to M’Ordant’s words. After all, that would require fear…something Arik knew nothing about.
Closing his eyes, Arik could still smell the scent of Megeara’s flesh. Still taste the salty sweetness of her body on his hungry tongue. Feel her touch on his skin.
No, he wasn’t done with her. He was only beginning.
Weary of only seeing her in dreams, and knowing that their time together is coming to an end, he is determined to to seek her out for real.
Making a deal with the Greek god, Hades (god of the Underworld), he asks to become human for two weeks, so that they may connect. Hades accepts the offer in exchange for a human soul. As Arikos agrees to the deal, he realizes he has been tricked by Hades, when Hades demands the soul of the very woman Arik is going to see.
Hades clucked his tongue at Arik. “Child, how naive of you. You agreed too soon. It’s not just any soul I want.”
“I want the soul of the woman who compelled you to make a deal with the devil. Surely she must have a magnificent soul for you to come here and barter with me, the most despised of all gods.”
Arikos is suddenly thrown into the middle of the ocean in human form, and is left basically drowning. Geary and her crew notice the struggling man and rescue him. Recognizing him as the man of her dreams (literally), she is suspicious and keeps her distance. Having been refused permits yet again for her search of Atlantis, she is discouraged and about to lose her financial backing. Arikos overhears her rant, and seizes the opportunity to finally gain her trust by contacting his earth-bound wealthy half-god/half human brother and calling in a favor.
“I need permits for an American archaeologist to excavate Atlantis.”
Solin burst out laughing. “I know you’re insane now. Have they really found the site?”
“Does it matter?”
“On this plane of existence, yes. You start poking there and you’ll piss off people best left alone.”
“Since the human’s days are numbered, I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. Let her have a bit of a thrill before she dies. What’s the harm?”
Solin sucked his breath in sharply between his teeth. “No you didn’t.”
“Didn’t what?” Arik asked.
“Promise a soul exchange with Hades. You do have nerve, I’ll grant you that.”
While the brothers are not close, and in fact, somewhat enemies (this is the same brother who caused Arik to turn Skotos), Solin recognizes a selfish potential for helping Arik with his human, and seizes the opportunity.
Katera (yes that “Kat” – assistant to both the gods Artemis and Appollymi) poses as Geary’s friend and “crew-mate”. Privately, she has her own agenda to keep Geary from ever discovering Atlantis, and warns Arikos of the imminent consequences of her journey.
It wouldn’t be long before he took Geary for the permits.
Kat stifled a shudder at that. “Just remember one thing, Dream-Hunter. You get in my way and I will sacrifice you for my mission.”
He laughed low in his throat. “And to that all I can say is a resounding ‘ditto’. I won’t let you interfere with why I came here.”
As the story advances, Arik, continues to struggle with his reconnection to Geary. While he is slowly inching his way into her heart, he is becoming frustrated at the painstakingly slow progress. Not knowing how to properly interact with human females on earth (realizing that what they do in a dream is FAR different from how they react in reality), he struggles with his approach and her resistance.
Solin froze in the doorway as he heard her words.
“What did I miss?”
She turned on him. “Your brother is an absolute jerk. He just lifted my dress up. Here. In public.” And still Arik looked confused by her anger.
Disgusted with them both, Geary turned and stalked back toward the car.
Solin gaped at Arik. “What did you do?”
Arik held up his hands in frustration. “She kissed me. It turned me on, so I – ”
“No, you didn’t,” Solin snapped, interrupting him. “Arik, are you an idiot? You could have exposed us all.”
Rage flamed inside him at the insult. “It’s what we’ve done before when she’s gotten the permits in her dreams. She likes the way I touch her.”
“Yes. In dreams. This isn’t a dream. You’re in the human world and people don’t behave like that here. Now, Brother, you understand why I venture into the dream realm. There are certain behaviors and rituals you have to practice in this world. You don’t just eye a woman here and then jump her. Damn. You’re lucky she didn’t slap you or have you arrested.”
All of that, and we’ve barely reached a quarter way through the book yet!
While Arik and Geary get to know each other, he is torn between helping her discover what her whole family has strived and suffered for, while keeping her safe from those who want to keep her from it. That, in conjunction with their limited time together, and the eventual outcome of their union, certify that their adventure will definitely keep you entertained, and your adrenaline racing like it did for me!
A little sidenote: I adored Arik, but was left (at least in the beginning) somewhat nonplussed by Geary (come on! The man of her dreams literally falls into her lap, and she resists him at every turn?) I don’t know if I should give her “props” for her careful assimilation of every situation, or feel sad for her. Whatever her reasoning, she has more willpower than I! Butttt on the other hand… considering the danger her expedition has exposed her too, perhaps her sense of self-preservation is *slightly* warranted… 😉