Author Nick Nolan's enticing Ballena Beach saga began with the novel "Strings Attached," introducing privileged California teen Jeremy Tyler. In the sequel, "Double Bound," a slightly better adjusted Jeremy meets and falls in love with Arthur Blauefee, a gentleman almost fifteen years his senior, hired to protect him, who shares the same feelings but chooses to disappear from his life.
The adventures of this seemingly destined pair continue in "Wide Asleep," Nolan's latest novel of intrigue and romance that is as equally entertaining and eloquent as its predecessors, only this time with a supplemental dose of the mystical and supernatural.
Immediately following a failed relationship, Arthur unexpectedly crosses paths with Jeremy's controlling Aunt Katherine, who is partially responsible for separating the two men, and who wishes to atone for her past behavior while seeking Arthur's help with her troubled nephew. After Katherine informs Arthur of Jeremy's latest mishaps, Carlo, Jeremy's first boyfriend (and now under Katherine's employ), shares the more sordid details, including reckless alcohol and drug abuse, as well as a shady companion, Lazarro, who bilked him out of a fortune in a crooked real estate deal.
At first resistant to Arthur's offer of assistance, Jeremy is reminded of their star-crossed connection, and soon thereafter the two rekindle their unfinished romance and join forces to get even with Lazarro, who turns out to be even worse than originally suspected. Hot on his trail, the newly reconciled couple travel to Greece, where things don't turn out as planned; but separately, and more importantly, Jeremy becomes aware that Arthur hasn't been especially forthcoming about his health.
Determined to remain sober amongst the anxiety and worry (caused by Lazarro and Arthur, respectively), Jeremy begins to see a therapist, at the request of his family and friends. The non-traditional Dr. Studski's methods include hypnosis and "regression," which enables his patients to revisit past lives. Jeremy discovers that he and Arthur, as well as Carlo, Aunt Katherine, and Arthur's close friend, Margo, have lengthy histories and associations that date back to the Civil War and the Roman Empire.
Jeremy and Arthur's courtship is worthy of a novel on its own, chock full of emotional highs and lows, romantic desire, and above all, genuine affection. Throw in the transatlantic pursuit of a mysterious drug lord with sex trafficking ties, reincarnation and a potentially terminal illness, and the reader is left with no choice, after having come so far, but to root for a pleasant -- or at least promising -- outcome.
While I consider the first two books in the series well worth your time, they are not required to enjoy and partake in this illuminating, unforgettable journey. I hope to hear from Arthur and Jeremy again, yet I rest easy knowing they'll be okay, not just now but beyond, as well.
Lake Union Publishing