A drafted empath. A dreamwalking poet. A world at war.
Idealistic, aspiring poet, Elliot Stone can make people feel euphoria or horror with a simple touch. But that’s only part of his magical abilities. He can also wake in the dreams of people he cares deeply for.
Stubborn, fiercely independent Warren “Sully” Sullivan is an illusionist with a secret of his own: he feels the emotions of others as visceral sensations. That, and a lifetime of fending for himself, has left him guarded.
On their last night of freedom before shipping off to training—military and magic—Elliot and Sully indulge in an explosive, emotional night together. Elliot assumes it’s a one night stand and nothing more, until he awakens in Sully’s nightmare. The urge to rescue Sully is impossible to resist. And when dream-Sully begs him to keep coming back, something Sully would never do while awake, Elliot can’t resist that either.
As real life draws them into battle, their shared dreams become a refuge that only Elliot recalls. So when Elliot has the opportunity to recruit Sully to the secret elite unit of magical soldiers he leads, he’s willing to risk everything for the man he’s fallen in love with in dreams. But being away from the front lines doesn’t mean Sully’s safe. Now they battle enemies with twisted magic where their secrets are a liability.
Can they bring their dreams—and love—to life? Or will the war cost them everything?
In the interest of full disclosure, I need to mention that Vanora is a writing friend. But this review is my own opinion and not based on any sort of obligation. Besides, I wouldn’t be telling you how amazing this book is if I didn’t honestly believe it.
The plot had me hooked from the very beginning with the revelation that not only is magic real, but it is an integral key to winning the war against Germany. Protagonists Elliot and Sully have a chance encounter, but reconnect through dreams. However, when they eventually reunite in the midst of a hellish battlescape, love is the last thing on their minds. But of course, love will always find out a way.
At the risk of sounding glib, the way in which magic is used was my favorite aspect of the book. Elliot’s ability to infuse those around him with either euphoria or horror is a great complement to Sully, who can create illusions and feel emotions more deeply. The two protagonists have great chemistry together.
Pacing is spot-on. As anyone who has studied WWI, the soldiers experienced long periods of tedium, followed by intense bouts of frenetic fighting. Even though the characters are not in the trenches, the pattern remains the same. Lawless uses these periods of downtime well; there’s always a sense of anticipation building up through exposition and backstory, which makes the payoff with the action scenes even more satisfying.
I would absolutely recommend Imperfect Illusions. This novel is reminiscent of authors like KJ Charles and Allie Therin, who have both written queer romances set in the same era. I have watched Eliot and Sully grow from mere wisps into the fully developed characters they are today. I’m so excited to share them with you, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.