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Review - First, to Dream of Love

Monday, July 23, 2012
First, to Dream of Love
by Cara Ruegg

Publication: June 2012
Pages: 339
Publisher: Self-published
Buy it: Amazon | Kindle

The Luminarium princess, Eliza, a devout Catholic, visits the dreams of Michael: a dark, satanic prince. Tragedy and fate bring the two of them together, only for malevolent forces to attempt to tear them apart. As their struggle progresses, their love is tested. Both face the prospect of being ostracized from their respective families. In order to secure peace, the lovers make great sacrifices. As their bond grows the powers who seek to destroy them become more and more determined – the attacks upon them more brutal and dangerous.

Together they must rule, or divided, the darkness will encompass all of Secretum.

I first met Cara at Inkpop and fell in love with her writing there. That was where I first read this book, so when Cara told me that she had self-published and was looking for a review, I immediately agreed and she mailed me a copy. As expected, I am still in love with Eliza and Michael's story. Their love is the love of legends. It is a starcrossed love that requires great sacrifice and holds the power to unite their lands, ending the long war between their kingdoms. It is one that will haunt you from the first pages.

Eliza is a devout Catholic, and her undying faith in her God gives her great strength and purity that give her saint-like qualities. Michael has been tempted by demons since as young child; the reason isn't fully explained, but I'm guessing that it is because his land is a dark land. It is mentioned that before meeting Eliza, Michael would kill the devout as much as the Luminariums. This story may be read in many ways. On the one hand, Eliza's faith and her love that saves Michael from the darkness surrounding him may be read into with religious significance. At the same time, this book can be read as a fantasy where heavenly forces are close at hand and play a significant role in the lives of mortals. Above all, this book may be read as the love story that it is. This book has themes and meanings for everyone.

There is a dreamlike quality to this writing, as though it truly is relating the love of legend that is unfolding between Eliza and Michael--the love that was foretold to bring peace to their land. It is beautiful and poetic, and it tells the story without getting bogged down in details. Nevertheless, I did find some backstory lacking. While I have the gist of what's happening, which may be enough for some people, I feel as though I know next to nothing about the war that has been taking place between Eliza and Michael's kingdom. I would have also liked to see the initial stages of their romance played out: more of the dreams and their secret hopes and fears before they finally come face-to-face, more of the demonic struggle that Michael goes through (for I find it hard to believe that he could conquer his demons so easily). I also wonder--as much of a saint as Eliza is, can it be so easy for her to follow some of her guardian angel's commands, such as entering war and forgiving what happens to her brother?

Overall, I do love this book. Its is one of my favorites. It is a very different read from all the other YA books out there and has one of the most epic and beautiful romances that I have encountered in YA lit. The ending foreshadows that while one chapter in the story of Eliza and Michael's heritage has ended, there is more tragedy to come for the kingdom to conquer. Here's to hoping that we see another book set in their world!

Come back July 31st for an author interview with Cara and the chance to win a copy of First, to Dream of Love!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review from the author. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.
5 comments on "Review - First, to Dream of Love"
  1. Thank you so much Kris for your honest review and all your insights. It means a lot. And I totally agree with the areas for improvement. I actually would pinpoint all of the ones you just did. Oh the joys of a first novel! I will definitely get to fixing those things at some point. Just need to re-outline and get re-inspired. :)

    Thanks again so so much for this. It means a lot. And I'm so happy you enjoyed it!

    - Cara

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    1. My pleasure, Cara. I really enjoyed reading First, to Dream of Love and look forward to seeing more from you!

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  2. Legendary love isn't really my thing, but this actually intrigues me. I hope it'll be available on the Nook...

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  3. I love the religious aspect and would read it just to find out how that all works in the story. Great review and I love that Kris was honest enough to point out any issues the writing had - Bravo! It's so rare for reviewers to do that these days and I can't stand it when they fluff the review just to please a writer. Doesn't help anyone. Congrats Cara on your first novel!

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  4. To be honest, I'm not very religious, so I'm a bit unfamiliar with the idea of "legendary love". Nevertheless, this romance seems pretty complex, so I'm intrigued! I also love the medieval setting - I seem to have a weakness for those, haha :D Thanks for the review!

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