Another winner for me! This book magnificently combines all the genres that I love in one solid and fascinating plot.
Murder-mystery, historical, contemporary, damaged souls, everything all rolled into one book. Seriously, I was in my element.
Nick is also with us talking about past life regression ~ absolutely fascinating!
A Word from the Author on Past Life Regression
Why did I write Wide Asleep?
In addition to having left my two favorite characters from Strings Attached dangling at the end of Double Bound, I wanted to celebrate eternal love.
Especially the unlikely, star-crossed love that simmered between my characters Jeremy and Arthur.
But before I delve into that, here’s some background on the new storyline: Wide Asleep is loosely based on Sleeping Beauty, which dates back to Perrault’s 1697 work La Belle au Bois Dormant, about a king and a queen and their irresistible daughter La Belle, who becomes cursed to prick her hand on a spinning wheel’s spindle and subsequently falls into a deathlike sleep—along with her hapless family, courtiers, and friends—for one hundred years before being awakened by the kiss from an equally irresistible prince.
Although I’ve taken what many will consider to be unforgiveable liberties with La Belle au Bois Dormant, the core elements remain. However, my irresistible protagonist is gay hottie Jeremy Tyler, who learns that both he and kingly, über-daddy Arthur have been pricked by the ‘spindle of death’ many times, only to be reawakened—reincarnated, actually—in subsequent lifetimes along with their family, friends, and enemies (saucy Carlo, frigid Aunt Katharine, scheming Lazzaro, seductive Carmella, and tail-wagging Bingham), not unlike La Belle, her royal parents, and their entourage.
And yes, there is kissing.
Lots of kissing.
Sure, I use “past lives” as a plot device in Wide Asleep to keep the reader turning pages. But after I began researching the basic tenets of reincarnation—innate talents; predestined relationships; immortality of the soul, and so on—I started thinking of the well-worn fairy tale Sleeping Beauty as a covert, ahead-of-its-time, New Age past-life metaphor that had somehow escaped even the unerring eye of Shirley MacLaine.
And this made me wonder: How does someone—even the character in a novel—find out who he might have been, and where and when he lived before?
Where the hell should he begin looking??
For many believers in reincarnation, past lifetimes can be discovered through hypnotic regressions—in addition to “inexplicable” memories, and attractions to specific professions, locations, and historical eras—which Jeremy experiences in Wide Asleep at the hands of his eccentric psychotherapist Dr. Studski. Regression therapists explain that hypnosis “calms” brain waves—from “Beta” (Where are my damn car keys?) to “Alpha” (in a beach chair, beer in hand, watching Tom Daley body surf) or the still deeper “Theta” (nodding off briefly during a graduation speech)—in order for their open-ended, but non-leading, questions to assist the subject’s mind in accessing suppressed information. Simply stated, the brain becomes quasi-asleep while remaining quasi-awake…hence one of several reasons for my book’s title.
During the hypnotic regressions in Wide Asleep, Jeremy discovers that Arthur and he lived together in one lifetime as a stoic Confederate captain and a cocky, orphaned soldier during the American Civil War, and even before that as members of the fierce (and exclusively homosexual) Greek warrior tribe known today as The Sacred Band of Thebes.
But the era looming largest in the dramas presently dogging the couple is back when Arthur lived as the Roman Emperor Hadrian, and Jeremy was his devoted lover, Antinous.
Beautiful, doomed Antinous.
As both a history nut and a gay man, the death of Antinous has always intrigued me. He was the James Dean of his epoch (both were handsome farm boys, had older lovers, died young in September, and are still famous today), and if you haven’t already seen what Antinous looked like, do a quick search. You’ll probably stumble across stone sculptures and busts of Hadrian and Antinous staring blankly side-by-side; so venerated is their love for each other that even the stuffiest museums still honor their need for perpetual marble companionship.
They were truly a happy couple.
Until Antinous mysteriously drowned.
Which brings me back to Wide Asleep: The various plots churn convincingly (or so I’ve been told) probably because of the very real mystery surrounding Antinous’s death: Was it murder? Suicide? Ritual sacrifice, or just an unfortunate accident? Little is known, because in spite of Hadrian having been a writer and a poet he recorded very little regarding his catastrophic loss except, “Today Antinous fell into the Nile.” Nothing more from him or anyone else…as if an Imperial gag order had been issued. And if not for reports that Hadrian “mourned like a woman for his beloved,” one might suspect that the emperor had something to do with Antinous’s demise, perhaps due to the growing scandal surrounding their relationship.
But Wide Asleep proposes a more probable motive behind the young man’s drowning…
My research also brought me face-to-face with startling ideas about life after death that included quantum mechanics, psychoplasms, the tenth dimension, and other mind-blowing concepts on the forefront of science that my weary author’s brain has little success grasping (and are absent from my book. Reader spared!). But after my investigations for the story were complete, I stepped away from my countless re-writes carrying a soothing supposition within my head: If past lives exist—and at this point I’m kinda thinking they do—then surely we enter each new lifetime with a cache of love within us that’s wide asleep...and just waiting to be awakened by a kiss from that irresistible prince.
Title: Wide Asleep
Author: Nick Nolan
Released: 4th February 2014
Genre: M/M (murder-mystery / historical)
Rating: 4 Stars
Arthur Blauefee promised to stay away from Jeremy Tyler forever. But when he learns that his troubled, heartbroken ex-lover has been seduced and swindled out of his inheritance, Arthur is off to the rescue.
After rekindling their passionate affair, the starry-eyed lovers learn that Jeremy’s plight has gone from terrible to worse. Not only has Jeremy been cheated out of his fortune, he’s been framed for murder. Desperate to clear Jeremy’s name, the pair travels to Greece in pursuit of the nefarious conman Lazzaro Sforza and enters a shady world of sex rings, designer drugs, and international intrigue.
Aided by the powerful hallucinogen Sueño Gris, Jeremy journeys into his past lives. Hopscotching through time, from the Civil War all the way back to the Roman Empire, Jeremy discovers that Lazzaro has betrayed him many times before. Can Arthur and Jeremy finally trump the scheming Lazzaro, or are they doomed to repeat their ill-fated pasts?
Jeremy has been duped by an ex-lover who turns out to be a conman. He has no money left and is destitute, emotionally and financially. Arthur has just broken up with his partner, is alone and wondering whether previous decisions were the right ones. After taking a walk on a beach he meets Katherine, Jeremy’s Aunt, and is invited back to her place. We learn there is a shared history as he used to work for her company, Tyler Inc., but now has his own company providing bodyguards for celebrities. At their meeting, Katherine informs him of Jeremy’s plight and asks him to go and see him. What I liked straight away about this book is that you learn about the shared past that Arthur and Jeremy had. They were once a pair, but due to the age difference, Arthur decided he should set Jeremy free to be with other people of his own age. Well, this was something that Jeremy never really recovered from and sent him on a collision course with alcohol, drugs, sex, one-night stands and the wrong people. Now, to be honest I could totally understand Arthur’s fears here. The older partner always feeling that someday he will lose the younger one to a hotter and sexier guy of his own age. Especially if the age difference is almost 15 years. I would feel the same in all honesty. But Jeremy’s feelings for Arthur can’t be denied and without him the man is just a wreck. First I thought he was just some kind of playboy, but then started to realize there was more behind this guy and why he was behaving so self-destructively. The man had set himself on a one way ticket to hell.
Anyway, Jeremy’s ex-lover, Lazzaro runs off to Greece with Jeremy’s money leaving him high and dry. Arthur is now left with the job of picking up the pieces. We learn that as suspected Lazzaro is wanted by Interpol for a number of not so savoury criminal activities and has set Jeremy up as the fall guy nicely before he left. The FBI ask Jeremy and Arthur to go to Greece to set a trap for Lazzaro. This of course doesn’t go according to plan either and a whole cat and mouse game ensues. What I really appreciate in any book is a strong plot and this one definitely has all the markings of an intelligent murder-mystery and thriller. When Jeremy and Arthur are in Greece you are kept on the edge of your seat wondering whether or not Lazzaro is going to get away with it. Nick weaves an intricate plot full of lies, deceit and criminal intent to make you want to hate Lazzaro and rooting for Jeremy that he can bring the guy to justice. Loved it.
The characters are all flawed in some way and have their emotional baggage to get over which makes them real and pithy. I loved them, hated them, cried with them, felt angry at them all in equal measure. As this story is essentially set in and around LA, I must admit as a Brit some of the settings for me were very Hollywood. Villa’s on beaches and more money than you could shake a stick at. Well, at least for Jeremy until he is totally conned out of what money he had – lol!. Jeremy is also a recovering alcoholic in this story and was great to see how he manages to find the strength and will to overcome this illness. However, I must admit I have never read a book where so many characters drink wine like it’s going out of fashion – lol! They must have drunk litres while I was reading the book. One very small point that did nerve me a little though after a while was when every time they drink a glass, the wine label or type of wine and how it tastes is mentioned, it did feel a little like reading the wine list at a wine tasting convention at times. This again is purely my subjective view and the descriptions were wonderful, I’m just not the wine connoisseur, so wasn’t really able to relate or appreciate I guess. No wonder poor Jeremy had such a tough fight on his hands. The boy did marvellously battling is alcoholism all things considered!!
There is also Arthur’s illness that he has been keeping from Jeremy since they got back together and doesn’t want to burden Jeremy with it immediately. Well, they return from Greece as Arthur isn’t too well and he has to tell Jeremy the truth which puts him in a complete emotional flat spin. So after lots of nagging by friends to seek professional help to help him through all the emotional turmoil, Jeremy gives in and goes to see a Dr Studski. Dr Studski’s methods are a little unconventional and hypnotizes Jeremy and we are taken back into history by using past life regression. Now I was wondering how Nick was going to combine a contemporary murder-mystery with the historical angle and this was a plot device that worked wonderfully. Absolutely LOVED IT!
Whether you believe in past life regression or not, we are taken on a journey of Jeremy’s past lives from Ancient Greece, to the Roman Empire and onto the American civil war. This was absolutely such an intelligent and magnificent addition to the story it rounded the whole book off nicely. We learn that Arthur and Jeremy have always been lovers through the ages in various settings and Lazzaro was also there in various guises being Jeremy’s nemesis every time. Even here for each era we visit the stories are complete in their own right and bit-by-bit the whole trouble that Arthur and Jeremy are experiencing today is due to an historical loop that has been repeating itself over many lives in many settings. It is now clear that they must stop history repeating itself. I am somewhat a cynic of things like this myself, but by the end of the book Nick had me believing in the credibility of such things. I mean why not? Here it is totally believable and is worked so masterfully into the current day plot I was hooked. It was so great to see Jeremy and Arthur building their HEA based on not repeating and eradicating the mistakes of the past. This is one of the most intelligent plot devices in M/M romance I have encountered for some time. It is well written and the reader is never left confused or wondering how the past relates to the present.
Despite everything that is going on you are never left in any doubt how devoted these two men are to each other. A beautiful romance evolves, even though it does have a past, these two guys are made for each other. You know how and what they are feeling all the way. After all that’s exactly why I read books. No cardboard characters here, each character is essential to the plot and story in some way.
As with all good plots, the threads are revealed bit-by-bit, letting the reader piece things together and by the end of the book all the blanks are filled and you know what has happened, even in the two previous books Strings Attached and Double Bound. This book can be read as a stand-alone as you are given a potted history of the books and what happened to Jeremy and Arthur previously, which is great, however as I’m the sort of person who likes to read things in order and get ALL the details I just wish I had done this now. It doesn’t detract from this story at all, but I’m just really nosey like that and like to get the complete picture. I would like to have known more exactly what threw Jeremy into this personal destructive collision course with drugs, alcohol, cheap dates and why. What exactly happened in Brazil with Arthur, etc.? So I would possibly recommend the reading order for anyone like myself who are greedy for the details.
Anyway, needless to say Lazzaro gets his just rewards as with any good crime novel. Lots of surprising twists and turns on the way. Jeremy and Arthur get their HEA and the final scene in this book, if not a little Hollywood, was also a perfect finish for this story. This book was a real treat.
About The Author
Born and raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles, Nick Nolan worked nights and weekends selling furniture to put himself through college. After graduation he went on to direct a group home for homeless and abused LGBT youth, and during his scant spare time began writing. Inspired by the works of authors Gordon Merrick, Paul Russell and Paul Monette, Nolan penned his debut novel, Strings Attached, the first in a planned trilogy. Shortly after its release,Strings Attached was named 2006 Gay/Lesbian Book of the Year by ForeWord Magazine, hit #1 in Gay Fiction on Amazon.com, and spent nearly a year in that genre's Top 10. Two years later Nolan's second thriller Double Bound won Book of the Year awards for Gay/Lesbian Fiction by both ForeWord Magazine and ReaderViews. Nolan's most recent work Black as Snow became the #1 selling Kindle title in the UK following its release, and spent over six weeks at #1 on Amazon USA in the simultaneous categories of 'Contemporary Fantasy', 'Gay/Lesbian Fiction', and 'Science Fiction Thrillers'. His fourth novel Wide Asleep, the long awaited sequel to Strings Attached and Double Bound, will be published in January 2014.
Nick is a die-hard car nut and an enthusiastic cook, while his longtime partner Jaime Flores is an award winning graphic designer and the principal at Monocle Design: monocledesign.com. Nick, Jaime and their two beloved dogs divide their time between a home in the San Fernando Valley and a cabin high in the mountains of California.
Connect with The Author
Reading Order and Purchase Links
1) Strings Attached (Tales from Ballena Beach #1)
2) Double Bound (Tales from Ballena Beach #2)
3) Wide Asleep (Tales from Ballena Beach #3)
Nick will be giving away 1x Amazon GC for $50.00 to the first winner to be drawn and a signed paperback copy of Wide Asleep for the second winner to be drawn.
Just enter the rafflecopter draw below. GOOD LUCK