Monday, March 21, 2016

Love Comes to Light by Andrew Grey

Artist Arik Bosler is terrified he might have lost his creative gift in the accident that left his hand badly burned. When he’s offered the chance to work with renowned artist Ken Brighton, Arik fears his injury will be too much to overcome.

He travels to Pleasanton to meet Ken, where he runs into the intimidating Reg Thompson. Reg, a biker who customizes motorcycles, is a big man with a heart of gold who was rejected by most of his family. Arik is initially afraid of Reg because of his size. However it’s Reg’s heart that warms Arik’s interest and gets him to look past the exterior to let down his guard.

But Arik soon realizes that certain members of Reg’s motorcycle club are into things he can’t have any part of. Reg can’t understand why Arik disappears until he learns Arik’s injury was the result of his father’s drug activity. Though neither Reg nor Arik wants anything to do with drugs, the new leadership of Reg’s club might have other ideas.

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Book 6
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Arik is completely defeated. An injury to his hand has left him unable to paint, something he loves to do more than anything and is also how he makes his living. When he gets the chance to work with Ken Brighton, a painter he looks up to, he moves to a new town. He forms a new group of friends who see past his injury and encourage him to find new ways to paint and to create.

One of Arik's new friends is a big biker, Reg, who he finds terrifying but interesting. Reg thinks Arik is adorable and his quiet, protective nature is a perfect fit for Arik. Reg also pushes Arik to face both his fears and past when his druggie mother shows up.

The sad and difficult issues in this story are offset by a lovely gentle romance and a cute orphan named Bobbie Jo. Bits of this story were a little predictable, but I teared up at the right times and grinned a fair bit too. Love Comes to Light left me smiling and satisfied.

It probably has something to do with my career, but I have found that I quite enjoy romances in which one of the main characters has a disability of some sort. Because of this, I was more than willing to shuffle a book or two around on my schedule so that I could squeeze Love Comes to Light in for a read. It didn’t hurt any that Grey was the author and someone whose books I’ve wanted to read more of. Add to that the motorcycle club element and I was raring to go.

I suspect most people would have difficulty adjusting to the loss of use of their dominant hand. Things you take for granted and actions you don’t realize how easy they are to complete, suddenly become impossible. For Arik, that loss is magnified because he is an artist and he no longer possesses the fine motor control needed to paint as he did before. Despite the fact that he has given up on ever being an artist again, he jumps at the chance to meet his idol when Ken Brighton calls and offers him the chance to work together for two weeks. Although Arik has no intention of painting, Ken soon challenges him to reconsider his decision to end his career without try alternate mediums. But the accident that injured Arik’s hand is not the only obstacle he must overcome as he harbors a rather deep-seated fear of men much larger than him and at barely 5 foot nothing, that’s a lot of men. So it’s only fitting that his unexpected love interest, Reg, is the embodiment of that fear. With the help of Ken, Patrick (Ken’s mute partner), and Reg, Arik begins to come to terms with the fact that although he may never be the painter he once was, that his life as an artist is not over, nor are his dreams of a family.

Love Comes to Light was an enjoyable read for me. I will admit that there were times when Arik’s defeatist attitude became too much to stomach, but as it stemmed from more than just the accident I wasn’t surprised to see it flare up more than once – but I was surprised to see Reg call him out on it after Arik’s meeting with his mother. So I powered through, hoping to see him overcome his doubts and fears, and for the most part he did. I really liked seeing how Arik relearned the basics at Ken’s urging and began developing a new style. While Ken may have been the catalyst for Arik’s exploration, it was Patrick’s words of wisdom and insight into his artistic loss that really helped Arik embrace it. But it was Reg who helped guide Arik toward accepting that a relationship, love, and a family were not off the table due to his injury. I enjoyed Reg’s character and liked how Grey used the situation with the undesirable elements within the motorcycle club as not only a turning point in Arik and Reg’s relationship, but also to illustrate that not all MCs are one-percenters. I love a good MC romance and I’ll readily admit that while I couldn’t live the lifestyle, the novels involving one-percenter clubs really ratchet up the bad boy-danger quotient and make for scintillating reading. Yet it was refreshing to read about an MC that was meant to be a club of motorcycle enthusiasts and how the members like Reg were not happy with the recent changes. My only wish is that there had been a bit more shown about the changes that took place between the last chapter and the epilogue, but I can’t really talk about the specifics because I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone. Suffice it to say, I enjoyed Love Comes to Light and hope to read more of Grey’s work, especially Ken and Patrick’s story.

3 Heart-warming Stars
Andrew Grey is a new-to-me author, and I read #6 of this series as a standalone without issue.

Love Comes to Light hooked me immediately with the vivid imagery of a man who has lost his ability to perform his passion. Arik wanted to paint, and was frustrated that his hand didn’t allow it.

At the start, I felt I’d be writing a raving, 5-star review at the conclusion. Sadly, this isn’t the case. The writing style and author's voice weren’t to my tastes. I couldn’t connect with one of the main characters, and giggling by anyone except children is a major pet peeve of mine.  While those issues are on me, it affected my reading enjoyment.

I will explain below for those who read like me. For those who don’t read like me, I’m positive they will undeniably enjoy Love Come to Light.

Arik is given the opportunity to work with his idol – Ken. So he sets off on a reluctant journey to relearn art with his disfigured hand. It’s heart-warming, gut-wrenching, and then it got to be too much for me around 30% into the story. The emotional extortion used. I get it. Arik’s hand is injured but the author won’t say how, yet I’m inside his head while he continuously harps on it. I am not a cold person, and I get the drive of passion, especially with art. But there had to be more to Arik than his self-defeatist attitude focused on a singular thing.

I couldn’t connect with Arik. I felt his actions/reactions were at two ends of a spectrum with nothing in between. He would be cold and closed off while speaking to his love interest – Reg – whom he was terrified of on sight. He would be terrified then rudely mouthy of Reg’s friend – OTT. (If I was the friend, I wouldn't have fixed the ungrateful ‘little guy’s car after that.) It wasn’t cute. I was uncomfortable reading the entire exchange. Others not as serious as I am may find it a cute exchange, like Arik has a spunky attitude, but it didn’t sit well as behavior from a grown man.

Arik never spoke to Ken and Patrick – they spoke at him like they were BFFs, but were actually strangers.  In the quest to be emotionally evocative, everyone had afflictions, right down to an orphanage of imperfect children and past narrators with major issues, to the point I was desensitized to it emotionally. If everything is tear-inducing, then for me, nothing is.

I will chalk this up to an issue of wading into the series at book #6, when in the beginning I could have focused solely on each character’s issues. But since I started the series here, it was an inundation which left me desensitize to any of their problems.

Arik went from spooked to lust in the blink of an eye with no buildup. I had no idea of his age, but a grown man constantly giggling after being closed off and angry seconds prior did me in.

The entire cast was charming, perfectly flawed to tug heartstrings, and willing to lend a hand to anyone in need. They were open, to the point they would slap their life story on a veritable stranger (Arik), who was so closed off even the reader didn’t know him while inside his head. Even after not reading the previous books, most conversations revolved around telling Arik their life histories, while the reader is inside Arik’s head and we don’t know his, with the ‘mystery’ of the book about Arik’s past with his family and his hand. It was an imbalance between the cast of characters. Too open vs closed.

When Arik’s mother appeared out of nowhere, his childish behavior turned me off from reading, no matter their shared, negative history. As a reader, not privy to said history yet, Arik looked immature. That behavior is not adult-like, surely not how a grown man would react. I don’t mean he should have let his mother in, either. It was in that moment that I felt Reg and Arik had a parent-child relationship, and to be honest it skeeved me out. Reg wanted to take care of Arik, spilling his soul to Arik, and all Arik gave was no true explanations, giggles, and his body.

I read from that moment on as Arik being genderless and ageless so I wouldn’t delve too deep into how I felt the grown man acted childish and hormonal but was hung. I get it – he had a hard life, but so did every single character in the story, all of which coddled him. Arik kept saying not to pity him, but his hand was brought up so much, to the point it became the sole focus for every character. I can’t do needy, whiny, and giggly, which was the opposite the author had intended. I’m positive other readers will find this thread of the story heartbreaking, and will shed a tear or ten. While the story was about the progression, the journey to accept the injury, and I understood it, it still didn’t mean the inundation wasn’t overpowering my enjoyment of the rest of the story.

I believe fans of MM Romance fans will lap the story up like cream. They will laugh and cry as the author manipulates them through tragic characters, disabled orphans, and endlessly patient and kind past narrators. It will be a heartstring tugger they will put on their favorite and/or comfort read shelves. But, sadly, the story wasn’t for me…

Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and now writes full time.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing). He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Love Comes to Light (Senses #6) by Andrew Grey to read and review.

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