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Beautiful Dreamer Wake Unto Me.

In The Shadow of A Dream, the third book of the Fairview Series by Maci Aurora, is an engrossing romantasy and exceptional read. I’ve been a fan of this series since the first book was in beta and this installment did not disappoint! With its expanded timeline and its gut-punch cliffhanger, In The Shadow of A Dream is the perfect mid-series book. It breaks new ground in what could have been a simple retelling and creates excitement for the next leg of the series instead of being a passive placeholder.

 In The Shadow of a Dream follows the quieter Fairview Sister, Brinna. Appropriately described as a ‘woodland fairy,’ Brinna seems more satisfied with their lot in life and expends her energy nurturing her siblings. The events of the last two books have reduced the population of the Fairview Cottage and pulled Brinna from her stupor. Seeing her sisters’ happiness has awakened wants and needs of her own. These wants take the physical form of her demigod acquaintance, Lucian. 

Told from the dual POVs of Brinna and Lucian, In The Shadow of A Dream charts their progression from flirts to happily ever after as they fight to save themselves and their loved ones from the short-sighted choices of her mother, Scarlett, and his father, Ur.  I appreciate the book’s start in the early days of the overall series. It grounds Brinna and Luc’s  love story and boosts the series’ lore.  

The writing is cinematic, continuing the lush, vivid descriptions that are the norm of the series. In the Fairview universe, even darkness is beautiful and multi-dimensional. As a reader, I appreciated the narrative’s flow. It has a balanced pace between deep introspection, blasts of action, and romance. There are even elements of horror and well timed bits of humor. 

The romantic threads begin almost immediately. Between teasing and longing, we see the unstable foundation of this pairing work to establish itself and weather the personal growth of Brinna and Luc. Each early interaction is a delectable push-pull between lust and something they can’t yet recognize as love. As the depth of their attraction becomes clearer, the dance shifts between selflessness and self-loathing. The spice is not mindless smut, but the pay off for so much teasing is deeply rewarding. I felt the steamy chapters were tastefully written.

Throughout the book we see the mirroring of several patterns and themes. The catalyzing theme is that parents are not infallible. Even when they have eons of experience, even when they know what is best, their methods can cause more harm than good. As the main characters mature in love, the reader also sees them mature in their outlook and reaction to the choices made by the failed parent. This is especially true for Luc.

Another theme was the long range repercussions of an act of selfishness. Brin and Luc are guilty of their own selfish choices that echo through the series and stifle some of the possible resolutions in this book. Again, the growth of their love guides them to better choices in the present and an outlook of wisdom on the past. This leads to a sub-theme of choosing the greater good over self and, in one particular heartbreaking situation, over the sibling they’ve sworn to nurture/protect. This sub-theme puts the MCs in their failed parents’ shoes and gives them a more worldly perspective.

Finally, there is the theme of purpose vs worth. As the MCs move towards their happily ever after, their growth becomes uncomfortable and they are forced to reconcile their previous measures of worth against what they are currently able to achieve as they focus on their new purpose. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The revelations, which come rapidly in the final third of the book, resolve some of the previous/lingering questions I had from the previous books. The second half of the book may require a hanky for those attached to certain relationships, but know their sacrifice is very well worth your pain. The cliffhanger ending made me want to throw my kindle across the room, but I’ve been assured more questions will be answered via the novellas coming later this year. If you like romantacy that has raw emotions, adventure, and spice, then In The Shadow of A Dream is the book for you. 

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