Jagged Dreams is a novel that brings hard-hitting issues to the romance genre without compromising it and, though it foregrounds violence, it is really about love.
Sexual violence, emotional violence: for most of the forty-odd hours that Tamara drifts in and out of consciousness, following a seemingly random attack in a deserted parking lot somewhere in an Australian city, her thoughts are a cocktail of memories, stretched and distorted by the warped reality of dreams and nightmares.
Yet, despite the dark thread of violence woven through the novel, it has many uplifting moments and one of its most lyrical occurs only hours after Tamara unwittingly witnesses to the ugliness of sexual abuse.
From her hospital bed, jagged dreams take her back to the vineyards of Bordeaux, to Marielle, eighteen and straight. Tamara, at twenty-four, is the older woman who, though she is terribly attracted to Marielle, understands that when the young woman eventually sneaks into her bed, snuggles against her and begins a dreamy exploration of her body, it is more an emotional connection Marielle is seeking than sexual gratification.
Tamara intuitively recognises the need for self-restraint. That night time visit is a very touching, very tender moment because Tamara’s sensitivity is, ultimately, what brings Marielle not only to survive the ritual of incest her father has been subjecting her to but also to find the strength to finally break free of him.
In spite of its examination of the topics of incest and homophobia, Jagged Dreams is a sexy tale of lesbian lust and love. It is a romance novel tightly wrapped inside a ‘whodunnit’, a novel that offers something to everyone without weakening any of its parts.
And while real time is suspended for Tamara who drifts in and out of consciousness in her hospital bed, the reader still has to work out whose act of violence has put her there, and why.