Title: Illumination by Rowan Speedwell
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, Romance, M/M
Length: 307 pages/Word count: 80,200
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
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.
Reader Discretion Advised. This title contains drug use.
Rowan Speedwell’s Illumination is a wonderful romance that beautifully illustrates how love can triumph and flourish despite overwhelming odds.
Adam Craig lives his life in the limelight and on the road while Miles Caldwell panics the minute he leaves his property. A chance encounter brings them together and they enjoy a few passion-filled weeks while Adam takes a much needed break following the end of his band’s latest tour. But Adam’s escape is only temporary and no matter how much he dreads leaving Miles, he has obligations that he cannot avoid. A long distance relationship is the only option for Miles and Adam but individual issues soon take their toll. Miles’s insecurities and fears cause him to doubt Adam’s feelings for him and his inability to express himself causes serious communication problems for the couple.
Of the two men, Miles is the most emotionally fragile. A traumatic event in his past has left him so scarred he is virtually a hermit and he spends most days lost in painting beautifully detailed illuminations. His sister Lisa and close friends Rob and Doug provide him with unwavering support but they also enable Miles as he continues to avoid facing his problems. He is socially inept and has such a difficult time reading other people it is no surprise he continually doubts Adam’s intentions.
Adam is such an incredibly confident character that it is at first difficult to see what lies beyond his rocker image. While he reached stardom with very little effort, he has had to completely bury his sexuality in order to maintain his position as the band’s front man. He is growing weary of life in the closet but coming out could have a devastating impact on his musical career. After he returns to CA, Adam remains pretty steadfast in his efforts to keep his relationship with Miles on track but he is soon plagued by doubts after Miles stops communicating with him. After Adam renews an old friendship he is back on the nightly party circuit where he uses drugs and alcohol to cope with his growing uncertainties.
Illumination might have a few familiar themes but it is a refreshingly unique novel. Miles is dealing with some pretty debilitating psychological issues but they are just one facet of this multi-layered character. His past is heartbreaking and it is quite gratifying to see him finally taking steps to conquer his debilitating fears. Adam is not the stereotypical drug addicted rock star who is about to crash and burn. His use of drugs is recreational but far from harmless. This part of the storyline is a cautionary tale of how even casual use of drugs can have potentially catastrophic consequences.
Adam and Miles are instantly attracted to one another and they are very quick to act on their passion. Their sex scenes are playful but intensely sensual. What begins as a physical relationship quickly becomes much deeper as they get to know one another. As the more intuitive and observant of the two, Adam fully recognizes that something is not quite with Miles, but he does not let that interfere with his growing feelings for him. Miles is charmingly clueless about, well, pretty much everything, but he is aware that his feelings run much deeper than just sexual attraction.
I was pretty much captivated by Illumination right from the very first page. I was dying to uncover the secrets of Miles’s past and Rowan Speedwell does an excellent job giving a little hint here and there which of course just made me even more curious. The complete story is revealed pretty late in the story, but is well worth the wait.
Final verdict: an emotional yet angst-free romance that is verrry sexy.