Title: IN THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT
Author: Adrienne Wilder
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
In the Absence of Light is an M/M contemporary romance with a decent plot and some FBI related shenanigans. Adrienne Wilder is a new author to me but having read this novel I am definitely hooked and will be undoubtedly checking out her other work.
The book is written in the first-person narrative with Grant as a story teller. Although I usually don’t greatly enjoy that kind of narrative, it works brilliantly here. I suspect it was used purposely to add depth and authenticity to the gradual process, during which Grant sheds his inhibitions and gets rid of stereotypical ballast and finally allows himself to take the plunge and fully submerge himself in the relationship with Morgan, noticing a partner and a lover in him.
It is an amazing story written in an effortless manner. The events flow fluidly; the book grabs your attention from the start and holds your interest until you turn the last page. The two main characters, both very likable, are boldly developed; their intriguing personalities quickly captivated me. There are some serious issues featuring in the background (abuse and violence in a relationship, autism vs. social functioning, tolerance and attitude towards people suffering from mental disorders) but the main story focuses on an unlikely and utterly charming romance blooming between Morgan and Grant.
Morgan is a stunning and gifted (artistically and otherwise) young man, who works as a busboy at a bar in the little town of Durstrand. He suffers from some form of autism but lives independently and remains in control of his life, which he struggled hard to accomplish and maintain. Grant is a tough guy with a past, who escapes Chicago in order to lie low after his slightly shady deals resulted in the FBI involvement. At first Grant sees Morgan as a retarded boy, unable to make decisions for himself and in need of a carer. He tries to fight and deny his initial attraction to Morgan, perceiving it as wrong, and rejects him. However, the desire burns too brightly between them and Morgan is too special to relinquish. The sex scenes are not too many, but boiling hot and sweet at the same time.
I immensely enjoyed the humour in the book, which is on the dry side. Morgan is hilarious and keeps on yanking Grant’s chain any chance he gets. It is adorable that the older man, otherwise savvy and shrewd, falls for his antics every bloody time!
I particularly liked the depiction of Durstrand. It’s a quaint, sleepy little town in Southern America, forgotten by modern civilisation. Gossip is practically a form of currency there as people take enormous pride in prying into their neighbours’ business and everybody-and-their-dog knows everything about everyone else. The towns folk, clad in old-fashioned overalls, flannel shirts and floral dresses, have biscuits and gravy for breakfast and attend outdoor movie nights in order to watch dated films among… cows. It’s heart-warming how quickly Grant gets accepted and embraced by that close knitted community, once he establishes himself as Morgan’s boyfriend.
I was fascinated by the secondary character of Jeff, Grant’s ex, a federal agent. I find his internally conflicted, complex personality damn sexy. Also, he’s still hung up on Grant. I’m simply delighted to hear that Adrienne Wilder recently mentioned on Facebook that Jeff would eventually get his own book. I will be one-clicking that sequel in an instant! A novella for Morgan and Grant is apparently planned as well.
There is some angst, drama and trauma on our reading journey, but I loved the way things get resolved in the end. The story left me in an uplifted mood with a stupid grin on my face. So there it is – a great, great read!
The author dedicated the book to: Anyone and everyone who has ever been misunderstood, cast out, or ostracized for simply being who you are. A beautiful, inspiring dedication, if I’ve ever seen one, to accompany a beautiful, inspiring book.
Five stars, that is uh, five feet from me!