Title : Illumination
Author : Rowan Speedwell
Publisher : Riptide Publishing (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Contemporary
Length : 308 pages (e-book)
Published : September 30, 2013
Rating : ★★★1/2
Adam Craig is burned out. Lead singer of the hard rock band Black Varen, he’s tired of the empty life of groupies, paparazzi, and hotel rooms. Worse, a life in the closet. After the final concert of their latest tour, he flees the afterparty, pursuing memories of lost summers and carefree days, until he passes out on the patio of a shuttered lake resort.
Miles Caldwell is a brilliant artist, tied by agoraphobia and social anxiety to his family’s lodge. Alone but for his parrot, he spends his days illuminating manuscripts and hiding from the complexities of life. When he discovers Adam asleep in a deck chair, he’s furious but intrigued. Adam soon charms his way into Miles’s bed, and they lose themselves in a summer idyll, safe from the compromises and claims of reality.
But Adam’s life, with all it demands, is waiting for him. And Miles, uncertain of Adam’s true feelings, is battling demons of his own. Somehow, the man who’s never home and the man who never leaves it must find the strength to fight for a future together.
Miles is a reclusive artist with a past that haunts him – the tragic accident that killed his parents, and while he survived, it’s left him changed, something he struggles to come to terms with every single day. Adam is a famous rock star feeling worn out and lonely and who one night finds his way to the quiet and safe harbour of Miles’ front porch and home. For Adam this is an oasis, a place where he can be himself and relax, and it certainly helps that he and Miles are instantly attracted to each other. I loved the scene at the beginning when Miles discovers Adam.
Their worlds are so different – Miles lives alone and cannot go beyond the boundaries of his property without experiencing anxiety attacks. Adam comes from a world of noise and drugs and never-ending parties. Miles is out and proud, Adam needs to stay closeted for the sake of his band’s continued success and popularity.
I enjoyed the way Miles’ character was developed. Through hints, his behaviour, and his sister’s comments, we learn about his past and why he’s so closed off nowadays, we learn about what he does – the insights into the process of creating an illuminated manuscript were interesting and with just the right amount of detail to get a picture. We root for him, we root for both of them actually, hoping they’ll find their way to each other.
What I liked less was the relationship between Miles and his two best friends, Rob and Doug. Its purpose seemed to be making Miles look less isolated and having some human interaction, besides his sister, but the friendship-with-benefits seemed unlikely, and I couldn’t understand what would drive these people to agree to such a strange, and also humiliating, imho, arrangement.
It’s a good story overall, and especially if you like reading about the crazy world of rock stars, then you’ll enjoy it even more. It’s a bit difficult to rate this book. The first part of the book was so enjoyable – quiet yet passionate, a beautiful story taking shape – so that’s a 4.5 stars. The second part of the story, which takes place after Adam’s vacation time is over and he returns to L.A., and in which there is a lot of rock star partying, was a bit on the long side for me. It also seemed that the characters, while dealing with their own very different issues, could have found a better way of communicating. Throughout this part it felt as though the connection with and between the characters was lost, but perhaps that was the point – the connection, lost and then found again, between Miles and Adam. This part was a 3-star for me. Towards the end of the story, Miles and Adam are finally dealing with their problems, separately, and making an effort to overcome them, to the extent that that is possible. A bit too neat and focused, but I’m glad they got their HFN. Story-wise, I would have preferred less of having the characters each in their own self-centered world, especially Adam, and more of their dealing with the very real problems that they’re both facing. I would have liked to see how they interact with each other when everything isn’t perfect, without intermediaries.
Rated 3.5 stars by Guest Reviewer, KC