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.
Having read several of Ms. Wilder’s books, I jumped at the chance to read In the Absence of Light because I enjoy her writing, the blurb was intriguing, and I wanted to see how Grant and Morgan’s story would play out. How Morgan would convince (or force) Grant to see past his autism and give the man inside a chance. While Ms. Wilder did not disappoint, she gave me far more than the contemporary M/M romance I expected. Between the realism of Morgan’s character, the relationship that develops, the mind-blowing sex scenes, and the unexpected romantic suspense elements that the author included, I was glued to my Kindle from the first page until the last. I am so relieved that this book fell on the weekend of my reading schedule, because I’m not sure how well I would have endured having to stop reading it just to go to work.
The opening scene does an excellent job of not only introducing Grant and Morgan, but also demonstrating Grant’s misconceptions about autism and how even though Morgan does display some of the symptoms of autism, he is a self-aware adult who knows his own mind, body, and sexuality (that was an amusing conversation). As the story progresses and Grant finds himself in Morgan’s company more often, he begins to realize that his assumptions about Morgan were wrong, but he still feels guilty for being attracted to a man with a disability. Thankfully Morgan takes charge of the situation once Grant stops running from him. I loved watching the relationship that developed between Morgan and Grant, even when Grant messed up so spectacularly because even though the scene was heartbreaking, Morgan’s response was to tell Grant he needed time, not an ending to them. As for the sex scenes, the way that Grant described Morgan as being poetry in motion appealed to my inner voyeur and left me bemoaning the fact that I couldn’t actually watch them together. And one particular scene really got me going – although I’ve seen still shots of that act on Tumblr (I told you I was a voyeur), I have never read one in a book. I do not have words adequate enough to express just how hot that scene was and how much I enjoyed it.
What really impressed me about In the Absence of Light was how well the author wove the romantic suspense elements into it. Despite the references to the FBI in the blurb, I really wasn’t expecting to see Grant’s past come into play, at least nowhere near the level it did. When those moments did occur, it made it easier to understand why Grant didn’t feel worthy of Morgan, yet made me that much happier that he chose to be selfish (his words) and continue their relationship. I was devastated when Morgan was targeted and even more surprised when Grant found out who was behind it. The trip from A to B is INTENSE and I was freaking ecstatic with the way things played out. I especially liked the last “show” for the cows at the end of the book. And that ending! I found nothing to indicate that In the Absence of Light is the beginning of a new series, but that ending demands a book of its own. Please, please, please, Ms. Wilder, please be writing a sequel and not just because of the man we know, but because of the man we don’t.