Saturday, February 18, 2017

Book Review: In the Absence of Light by Adrienne Wilder

For years Grant Kessler has smuggled goods from one end of the world to the next. When business turns in a direction Grant isn’t willing to follow he decides to retire and by all appearances he settles down in a nowhere town called Durstrand. But his real plan is to wait a few years and let the FBI lose interest, then move on to the distant coastal life he’s always dreamed of.

Severely autistic, Morgan cannot look people in the eye, tell left from right, and has uncontrolled tics. Yet he’s beaten every obstacle life has thrown his way. And when Grant Kessler moves into town Morgan isn’t a bit shy in letting the man know how much he wants him.

While the attraction is mutual, Grant pushes Morgan away. Like the rest of the world he can’t see past Morgan’s odd behaviors.

Then Morgan shows Grant how light lets you see but it also leaves you blind. And once Grant opens his eyes, he loses his heart to the beautiful enigma of a man who changes the course of his life.

Jewel's rating:

“The light is a funny thing, Grant. We think it shows us what we need to see, but in reality, it blinds us. That’s why I brought you here. I wanted you to see me.”

Wow. I bought In the Absence of Light back in April 2015, but managed to not read it before now. I know, insane, right? I recall the reviews being stellar, and there was just something about the cover that drew me in. The colors, the composition, the reflections - it's a gorgeous cover. And now that I've read the book, the cover has taken on even more meaning. The story inside In the Absence of Light is even more beautiful than even the cover indicates. I definitely need to check out Adrienne Wilder's other books!

In the Absence of Light is an amazing piece of gorgeous story telling. With misunderstood, and slightly dented, heroes, and a single-minded determination to just be who they are, even in a small town, the MC's both just stole my heart.

Grant Kessler moved to Durstrand to bide his time until he can risk accessing his off-shore bank accounts and leave the country. He hasn't exactly lived his life in an honest way, but he does have a moral code. Between being hounded by the FBI, including one former undercover agent whom Grant fell for, and because the rules of were changing in a way that he couldn't reconcile with his conscience, Grant got tired of the game and decided to stop playing. Durstrand is a small, middle of nowhere town, which is just the change of pace Grant needs after living in Chicago for half his life. And it is in local bar call Toolies that Grant first lays eyes on Morgan.

Morgan Kade is autistic. He's also self-reliant, smart as fuck, and determined. His autism is severe, but his determination is stronger and though there are things that you and I take for granted that he has trouble with - like tying shoes, telling left from right, or driving, those things aren't really important, anyway. The way he sees the world is breathtaking and unique. And the odds he's overcome to prove he can take care of himself aren't small.

Everyone underestimates Morgan because of his autism. They assume he is mentally a child or incapable of taking care of himself. And he cleverly shows them all just how wrong they are. Grant was no different in those assumptions than anyone else, at first, but he learns - mostly because Morgan can be uniquely manipulative when he wants to make a point. Morgan isn't a child and he won't tolerate being treated like one. He's 24 years old and is very much a man. Morgan isn't afraid to go after what he wants and he isn't afraid to assert himself. In fact, there is only one thing Morgan has any real fear of, and unfortunately he has to face that fear in this story. Heartbreaking.

And Grant - he's worldly and yeah he's done many illegal things, some of which he isn't exactly proud of, but he's not nearly the asshole he pretends to be. Grant has trust issues, though, and with good reason. His father threw him out when he was 15, because of the gay, and after that, his role models weren't much better. And trust, well, that doesn't come easy, either, and the time or two he has tried it out haven't exactly worked out for him. At first Grant feels guilty for being attracted to Morgan, because all he really sees are Morgan's tics. It takes a very perceptive Morgan and some darkness to really show Grant who Morgan really is. And I've gotta say, that was really kind of brilliant of Morgan.

I loved In the Absence of Light so much. Morgan is misunderstood and Grant's trust is a bit dented and together they just fit. And their smexytimes are smokin' hot. Not only is Morgan super toppy (even when he bottoms) he is also…bendy; impressively so.

What took me so long to read this book?! I am happy to have remedied that oversight.

Highly recommended.

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