This is the second book by author R. Moreen Clarke I have read and thoroughly enjoyed. If Only In My Dreams is a book for today’s modern reader. It provides an up-close view of the intimate details of online relationships. Alone for several years after the untimely death of her fiancé who dies in an auto accident, Olivia Cane, explores an Internet dating services in hopes of finding her perfect knight. That knight comes in the form of one Malcolm First, an intensely romantic intellectual who travels frequently on business trips. It is Malcolm and Olivia’s search for true love that finds them hungry to expose their inner longings to one another, almost at once. Via electronic conversations, they create a fairy tale of poetic prose, romantic stories and echoes of ‘I love you’. All is well until Olivia’s family and friends begin to ask her questions about the mysterious man she has met online. It occurs to Olivia that she knows very little about the details of Malcolm’s life. Sure. He’s romantic and caring. However, she doesn’t know where he lives, if he has children or even if he is married. His kindness and aptly applied skill with words encourages her to throw caution to the wind. It isn’t long before she finds herself falling deeply in love with a man she knows so very little about.
Olivia is drawn deeper and deeper into a web of old world romanticism and steamy sexual fantasies building to a climatic first meeting between Malcolm and her. It is this first meeting that shatters both their worlds. At once Olivia realizes that Malcolm is not the man he portrayed himself to be, at least not on the outside. He is older than she imagined and appears to suffer from a physical ailment that brings pain to his joints. He moves like someone older than her father would. She fears she has been deceived and races from the restaurant where they had agreed to meet for the first time. Her reaction to him shocks Malcolm to say the least. However, Olivia begins to have second thoughts. Malcolm has always been kind and gentle with her. He is a considerate and loving man. That she can readily see. Yet she wonders if she can learn to be in love with a man who does not excite her physically.
The complications of their relationship are strong and easily carry the story. The characters are complex and well developed. The writing is fluid and effective. The dialogue is believable. If there was one area of the book that could be stronger it would be the number of emails sent between Olivia and Malcolm at the start of the book. I will say that nearer the book’s end Clarke does a wonderful job of pulling the numerous emails into the body of the story’s end. Romantics will especially enjoy this story. That said, any reader seeking a deeper love may catch glimpses of their own desires and fears while enjoying If Only In My Dreams.