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"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." - Oscar Wilde

In The Absence of Light

In The Absence of Light - Adrienne Wilder 5 beautiful, very special stars

Oh, this was so good.

Let's start with Grant. He is definitely not your All American Nice Guy. His livelihood wasn't what you would call clean for a long time. Now, he just wants to lay low for a little while before moving somewhere where the FBI can't touch him or the money he put aside. Throw an ex-lover into the mix, who is one of the good guys but really wasn't for Grant and you get one interesting sub-plot. With a little mystery and crime as a cherry on top.

Then there's Morgan. Autistic, an artist, fiercly independent and a snarky one to boot.

"Take out some toothpicks. Any number and don't let me see them. Then dump the rest on the floor."
"The whole box?"
"Yeah, all of them. Then I'll count them really fast."
[...]I kept the flap raised and counted out a dozen or so. Even if he got the number wrong, he'd never know it. Nope. I couldn't stand the idea of breaking his fragile ego.[...] Morgan tapped his fingers against his palm and then snapped them close to his ear. I still couldn't see his eyes, but he slowly turned his head as if following the flood of toothpicks covering the kitchen floor.
He stared. "Hang on."
The clock on the wall ticked off the seconds of silence. I ran a hand over the top of my head. "You finished yet?"
"Almost." He flicked his thoughts, then managed to corral his wayward hand into one of his pockets. His shoulder jerked a few times like it wasn't happy with the arrangement. I cleared my throat.
"Okay, got it," he said.
"All right, how many?"
Morgan raised his head, and there was nothing soft, subtle or innocent in his eyes and not a single tear on his cheeks. "Fuck if I know, but you better start cleaning up the mess you made. I've got somewhere to be."

Oh dear, I almost died in this scene because I couldn't decide if I was mortified on Grant's behalf, or pissed of on Morgan's. And I had to admit to myself that I don't know if I would have been "better" in a similar situation. Because even though I try not to, I still find myself drawing conclusions way too fast occasionaly. Which is why I felt for Grant in his mortification, because sometimes we're pretentious assholes without realizing it before it's too late.

"Guess what, Mr. Rocket Science, I can even wipe my own ass, or did you think I wore diapers?"
"No, of course not." My cheeks burned.
"Only because you saw my bare ass while I was getting dressed."
"I'm sorry, okay." Gos I wanted a rock to crawl under. "I'm sorry for..."
"What? Making assumptions? Or throwing toothpicks all over my floor?" His shoulder jerked. "Or maybe you're sorry for having some stereotypical idea about how I should act and what I can and can't do."
I sank in my seat. "You're right. I deserved that."
"No, what you deserve is a punch to the face." Morgan jerked his head to the side and fluttered his finger. "Will you wuit staring at me? [...] It's called a tic. [...] It's involuntary. And the rare times it isn't, it keeps me from knocking people around."

What I really loved about this book is not only how it got under my skin in the first place, but how long it stayed there. I kept thinking about the relationship, about the feelings and most importantly I started to reflect upon my own kneejerk reaction to it all. Truth be told, I only ever had contact with autistic kids, ages 5 - 12. So yes, I know something about autism, about the spectrum, the variety of symptoms and limitations. So in a way I understood Morgans reactions perfectly. On the other hand, I cauhgt myself sympathizing with Grant more than once. Because I kept thinking: "How is he supposed to know that? Give him a break, he only means well." Mostly, this thought was quickly followed by the realization that if you mean well, you should damn well ask and listen before you judge or assume. So yeah, this story stayed with me a long time, and I read it more than once already.

I just loved this to pieces. It made me lauch and ache and cry and hope so much, it was surreal. That is not to say the book doesn't have its' issues. The sex scenes were one of the absolute best I've read. Ever. But in the middle of the book they are occur quite frequently. Maybe too frequent to still be considered excellent or necessary. On the other hand, the plot takes quite some time to get really interesting, partly because Jeff, the Ex, plays a big role, one that some might consider to be too big. And, as I said, you get a mystery/crime plot in addition to the regular stuff, plus - whaddaya know - Morgan has a past, too. One that threatens his present and future considerably. I can definitely see why some readers might find these sub-plots too distracting or even boring. For me, as a grade-A mystery lover, this was perfect. All of it was absolute perfection for me.

The only niggle that threw me sometimes, was the editing. This book would absolutely benefit from some tighter editing or proof reading. But in the end, I was so drawn to the plot and the characters, it was really just a very minor issue.

All in all, I would recommend this book to absolutely everyone, especially if you're looking for something sensual, romantic, different, a little magical and a little mysterious.