One of the basic human rights he takes away from you is the right to be angry with him. No matter how badly he treats you, he believes that your voice shouldn’t rise and your blood shouldn’t boil. The privilege of rage is reserved for him alone. When your anger does jump out of you—as will happen to any abused woman (or man) from time to time—he is likely to try to jam it back down your throat as quickly as he can. Then he uses your anger against you to prove what an irrational person you are. Abuse can make you feel straitjacketed. You may develop physical or emotional reactions to swallowing your anger, such as depression, nightmares, emotional numbing, or eating and sleeping problems, which your partner may use as an excuse to belittle you further or make you feel crazy.” ― Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men

“I am living in hell from one day to the next. But there is nothing I can do to escape. I don’t know where I would go if I did. I feel utterly powerless, and that feeling is my prison. I entered of my own free will, I locked the door, and I threw away the key.” ― Haruki Murakami

I used to watch them walk into the emergency room. The walking wounded. Bruises. Broken bones. Concussions. Sometimes they couldn’t walk – they crawled. And sometimes? Sometimes they came in to my department. The basement. The stark white walls. The bone saws. The scent of formaldehyde and rotting flesh. The scent of death. Death from the battering fists, the kicking feet, the burns and beatings and brutality and death death death. . . They found their way to my table, where I arranged their broken bodies, cleaned them, prepared them for the final indignity, the indignity that we tried our best to save them from, but was indignity all the same. The opening of the body. The cataloging of the wounds. The removal of organs and weighing of the heart . . . the broken, battered, desiccated husk of the heart.

Dan knows this. As he sits in the cold, stiff, uncomfortable chair in the hospital waiting room he has crawled into once again, he knows.

“He didn’t know what to do, and he had to admit, after this last beating, he was terrified of what could come next. Would he even have a warning, or would Keith just kill him?”

But still, he knows he will go back. Back to the beatings, the verbal assaults, the brutality, the rapes. Back ‘home’ – where he would have to scrub his blood from the walls. Men, you see, can be victims, just as women are. And Dan? Oh, yes. He has “victim” down to a science. As the nurse in the ER tells his friend Shelly:

“Your friend? He’s not dying, and this is not his first visit. We all know M. Tolliver very well, and if he ever wants to stop being a living punching bag; we will applaud him. Now, why don’t you have a seat and wait until he is called, or the nice security guards can ensure you wait for him elsewhere.”

Dr. Kavanaugh, the ER physician, has an idea. Stepping in front of a bus would be faster, and way less painful. Less painful than the beating, and the rape, that he has suffered this night. And Dan, Oh, Sweet, Sweet Danny Boy, you still try to hide it. Still try to cover up the horrors you suffer from all those who truly love you. . . excuses. Excuses and lies. All the fairy stories the abused hide behind.

Something has to change. And then?

And then, the dreams come. And suddenly, Daniel isn’t alone any longer. And here is where the story pretty much runs off the rails for me.

The scenes in the beginning of the book are absolutely heart-wrenching. I bled for Daniel and understood what was in his mind. Believe me, I know all about domestic violence. And the story could have been good from that angle, or from the Sandman angle. But the author seems too ‘scattered’ to me. Daniel is taken in and raised by a wonderful Alpha (yes, wolf shifters . . . did the author really have to go there?) but clings to the same type of relationship he had with the brutal monster whom he was born to – allowing himself to be brutalized by another monster, Keith, no matter the friends, family and pack who would protect him and help him learn to stand on his own two feet.

A Sandman who wants to continue his life on Earth, a brutal abuser, a loving family of wolves. There was just too much going on, too many storylines, too many wonky plot holes, too many times the story ran off the track. There is a nasty brutal Sandman who is apparently determined to end the world – a plot point that never really came to anything. I hate to use this term, but the whole thing seems just too, too precious.

I wish I had a better feeling about the book after everything was said and done, but I found myself skipping whole sections to get to the end. I wish the author the best – and hope that the publisher will consider an experienced Content Editor to smooth out the rough edges, plot holes, and overall precious nature of two-thirds of the book.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.