Guest 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.

Guest reviewed by Vivian

The truth lies in what you are not seeing.

Morgan, brilliance trapped in a form that can't always do what he wants. Frustration, aggravation, underestimated, belittled, mocked, and determined. He won't be pitied. He lives how he wants. Like many who are trapped in the liminal spaces of society, he sees things others don't.

Grant is lying low biding his time. Exchanging an ever-increasing lethal past for a future. Future dreams that he is waiting to collect. Well, the future is much different than he expected, but more than he ever dreamed.

Then there's the town of Durstrand and all it's inhabitants. They are a colorful crew that provide the depth and walls for Morgan and Grant to bounce off of. That and the past that's followed Grant makes for a fast paced read as trouble comes south.

I loved Morgan. His fortitude is amazing and he's got a wicked sense of humor. He's so smart that he runs circles around folks. He's beautiful and he's damaged--BUT, that doesn't make him imperfect. And it certainly doesn't make him unworthy.

Morgan is self sufficient, and aggressive when he needs or wants to be. Frankly, autistic power bottom is not a phrase I thought I'd be comfortable using, but nonetheless, it's true here. Morgan is damn sexy. I'm not the only one who thinks so, he's got a whole fan club.

Part of me is always hesitant of marginalized main characters because I'm worried that an author is using it to sensationalize the story. Wilder has written several books that have marginalized characters and each has been treated as a whole person, not a subset of symptoms. And in this case, worry would have been for naught. Morgan is autistic. Granted, he is high functioning and social in most instances. But, Morgan himself is more important than the label autistic. He is so much more.

The title is clever, a play on both Morgan and his art. Morgan sees light in ways most don't; he doesn't just break it down into waves of color, but how those waves move. The song they play is just for him. I don't think anyone is completely suppose to understand his art, it is a conversation he alone has with it. An intriguing interaction that is a vital component of who he is.

This is an emotional book that plays with trust and how fragile it is. How fragile we are when it is broken.
Trust is what’s hard. Broken hearts can be fixed. Broken trust?” His touch followed a tear down my cheek to my lips. “Trust doesn’t heal."

There are quiet moments of epiphany for both Grant and Morgan. They give each other something neither has ever had. Simply, it is a beautiful romance.

Overall, a Southern suspense that has heart and humor.

Favorite quote
Your battle is over. Live your life, be happy, love deeply.

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  1. It's already in my list but have to say that I love the cover!

    1. I agree, and it makes so much sense to the story--Win!

  2. Lovely review, Viv! This sounds so good. Purchased and all set to read as soon as I finish my current book.

    1. You're gonna love the heart in this one, Jilly. And all the other fun bits, too. It just has really great balance.