Friday, February 7, 2020

Adrienne Wilder - In the Absence of Light

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.

Comment: I've seen several recommendations of this book in one of the goodreads groups I (sometimes) follow and by the blurb I thought I'd like to try it too. I'm always curious about how an author picks a character with some sort of disability and not only makes it work but makes it seem as easy to accept as any other regular romance. Therefore, I was quite eager to start.

When the book starts, Grant Kessler has just moved to a small town after purchasing an old house he plans on renovating. In fact, Grant is thinking about taking his time doing so, and he he chose a small town, away from many things, mainly big cities so the FBI and some bad people don't find it strange he is just staying there until no one wonders about him anymore and, eventually, he can move into his notion of a beach paradise.
However, in this small place he meets Morgan, a busboy at the local pub, who is clearly autistic, and he feels attracted but annoyed at the same time because he thinks Morgan is not being coddled enough, since he is mentally handicapped. With time, though, he realizes Morgan is a lot more than just his handicap and he feels like he found a place to belong. There is just the small issue of his past business and how to let go of it to finally be at peace...

I liked reading this book. I think this was a sweet enough story without being too sugary and I especially liked how the relationship between Grant and Morgan developed. Another very good detail was how the small town, which for all apparent effect should be considered too conservative, turned out to welcome not only Grant but the fact he was now an important part of Morgan's life. It was very cute to see how everyone was smirking and overly glad they were hooking up.

This is a romance story and a big part of the plot is centered on how Grant sees himself (we only have his POV) and the new reality he finds in Durstrand, a place he thought would have been small and distant enough from his city life in Chicago, that he could stay two or three years without much notice. He wasn't counting on Morgan and I'm glad their romance was developed rather slowly, in particular because he assumed Morgan was a lot more dependent and unable than how he turns out to be. This was a good surprise, how well matched they seemed to be and that it was Grant who saw things negatively but who ended up changing his mind.

Grant is an interesting character, we get to know a lot about him and I confess I cannot imagine, like he described at some point, how parents can just expel a child (he was 15) for being gay. This was not a huge part of the story but I found it certainly caused a lot of choices in his life.
What I, honestly, could have done without was how his previous business had to be linked to some shady stuff and was such a big part of the plot. I'd have preferred to have him being wealthy for the same reason but without the shady part and the focus on him being more about the romance and not the possible bad things he had to deal with because of the business.

Morgan is also a key character even though we never have his POV. His personality comes through how Grant sees him and, I assume, research from the author. I think it's good it's said not everyone in the spectrum is the same, people react differently and Morgan felt unique but as normal as we would classify someone with challenges to overcome but with relative stability in how routines are dealt with. Morgan is a very intriguing character and I really liked how aware he was and how he felt like proving people wrong.
The romance had many cute moments, the intimacy parts were fine, a few quite touching but to me that wasn't as special as the emotional connection hey formed.

All things considered, this was a good romance. I've seen other titles by the author and some don't fee as appealing but I liked spending time with Grant and Morgan, their HEA was very cute too.
Grade: 8/10

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