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on 30 September 2013
Illumination. Rowan Speedwell.

ARC provided via Netgalley.
Well, I loved this book, really, really loved it. Its a proper romance, not just a true love story but a great read on how the two men get there.
Adam, well, who couldn't love him. He's Gay but had to pretend to be just Bi, as the bands popularity would plummet if the truth were known. Even then he can only actually be seen out with ladies, not men. Adam hates the pretence, he's not even truly devoted to the music, it's acting that's his true love, and the only way he deals with being the face of the band and being on stage is by acting a role he invents. Then he meets Miles after a show one night, when in a drink and drug filled stupor he decided to go somewhere, sees the signs for the lake, recalls being there as a child, and stops there. Miles finds him next morning asleep on his patio....
Miles, he's a man with secrets too, reclusive and shy, he keeps himself shuttered away, working on his brilliant Illuminated paintings. I just loved the descriptions of these, and could mentally envisage them. The way he makes them, from scraping the animal hides to constructing the paint as it would have been made centuries ago, was really fascinating. I'm an artist too - and I was really riveted by this part of the book. It must have taken a lot of research, and the same care has been taken with all of the book. Its not written in dumbed down, simple sentences but is composed in a way that appeals to real readers, not those who just want to be spoon fed a few sex scenes. There are sex scenes here of course, but they're done in a way that fits the story, and not as too often we see, the story written to fit the sex. Rowan's scenes are sensual and sultry, erotic and intimate, and fit just perfectly in the novel. Anyway, back to Miles. I so felt for him, he was a lost person, and I was desperate to find out what had happened to make him like that. He truly was the brilliant artist with a shattered mind. His sister Lisa was great too - she was the glue holding him together, aided by long time friends Bobby and Doug. Of course I can't miss out Grace, what an amazing character, vociferous, humorous, and stunningly beautiful...she's Miles CAG parrot...and a real scene stealer at times!
So how will there two work things out? How can stay at home Miles and never at home Adam have a real relationship? Well, there's lots of drama here, tender love scenes and crippling angst from when the media pick up stories quoting Adam's public face girlfriend of convenience Evie. The media love to create a romance where there's just friendship - its the story that sells, not the truth. Miles isn't the most self confident person, and he's easily knocked back by what he reads.
Its an incredible novel, a true love story, which needs to be savoured. I've read it once and I'll definitely be re reading it - its one of those quality book Riptide excel at, which can bear multiple readings. That makes them excellent value for money. On that subject - Price: I've not exact figure but its $7.99 US so about £5.03 UK for a good long book of 308 pages/80,000 words. I just love longer novels, they really let readers get "into" the story, understand the characters, and feel all the angst and emotion, and that's just what happened here.
Stars: well, five of course :) fabulous read.
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on 20 July 2014
I don't think this will be a lengthy review, I don't want to give away even one mile of this glorious road you'll travel with Miles and Adam.

There isn't a single word in this that feels false or unnecessary. The dialogue is spot on, it sounds like some of my friends and I talking. The ease of it, the references, the humor and difficulty in sometimes being able to say what you mean are all there.

These two get to know each other in a very organically presented way. Their natural personalities spark with and balk from each other, confidence and worry battling it out sometimes. They've both been through enough in life at their approximate ages to know what they want, but they fear they may not get it, as past experience has shown to happen.

All of the characters are rather well defined and serve their purposes. I like how we as the readers don't find some things out until the characters do.

The intimacy and sex are hot... just saying.

I found myself hoping, cringing, laughing and sighing. I did not want this to end!! I haven't felt that way about a book in awhile. That has nothing to do with the length of the read or the ending itself, they both work. It's just the deeply sigh worthy feeling that stayed with me, I didn't want that to end. And I really want to curl up on the couch, a good cup of tea between my fingers, and watch their faces as Miles and Adam recount their own story, their fingers entwined. *sigh* Lovely.
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This tale was certainly not what I was expecting. Yes, I read the blurb and realised that one character was jaded and that the other might have issues with being around people and open spaces. What I got was a tale of the many emotions that are present in people, but that today's world doesn't always allow for; I got a hot MM romance, but I also got to read about sibling love, about friends who love, about a lead who was prepared to be patient in order to gain his love.

Adam was surprisingly un-jaded for an on-the-verge-of-burnout rocker, and I loved how patient and non-judgemental he was with Mike/Miles, whose issues were in fact more leaning towards autism/a learning disorder (apologies, I'm no expert, but that's the gist of him) than simple behavioural/social issues. Adam was more the 'giver' in some ways, yet in bed, Miles reciprocated. Their relationship managed to stand the test of more than just their own demons, but also weathered real life intruding, the media surrounding Adam, distance between them, and time, so that when their HEA came, it was emotional and totally believable.

The sex was hot, sexy, romantic and healing, and it seemed as if the leads truly communicated with each other through giving to each other, without words. I loved how the author didn't simply wave a magic phrase or two and make everything all rosy for them, as on top of Miles's issues, Adam had his own issues with being in the closet, though he masqueraded as bisexual, and with where he wanted to go in life, and with drugs and his public persona and lifestyle. I think that the leads needed to be parted to appreciate what they meant to each other, and that video scene that Adam emailed Miles was amongst the hottest I've ever read in a romance novel.

I also liked that the bit of bigotry that was in the book, didn't come across as fabricated or stereotyped; it was totally refreshing to have the issue arise in the way it did, and that again, no magic words made it all OK. It felt realistic, if sad in this day and age, and rather judgemental.

Overall, this is a book that I will read and re-read; it was that good. It's a 5* Keeper of a tale, and a brilliant intro to this author.

Ebook courtesy of NetGalley and Riptide, in exchange for an honest review.
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on 20 October 2013
I enjoyed reading Illumination by Rowen Speedwell.
Nice romance, predictable format but very nicely played out.
characters well thought out.
quite tense in parts,The sex is well written but is part of the story,
Nicely written for a gay novel.
Have just bought "Love, like Water" By the same writer, hope its as good.
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on 31 January 2014
I really enjoyed reading Illumination by Rowan Speedwell. It is a very well written story about a recluse and a rock star. The characters are amazing. Miles and Adam are both so real and loveable. I also liked the way they sort our their differences to start a life together. They both are patient with each other while dealing with problems. I loved Lisa, Evie, Doug and Bobby and also Grace. All in all a very good romance. Highly recommended!!!
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on 26 October 2014
Lovely read, wonderful characters, great story, what more can you say? I hate that the rock n roll lifestyle is just so shallow - it was portrayed brilliantly, just pop an E, do a line of coke, have a Valium then wash it all down with some tequila, they usually eventually learn or die. Adam was very lucky. I loved this, a first for me by this author, definitely worth buying another book on the back of this one.
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on 29 November 2015
Some of the characters as well as the story came across as plain mental but amazingly enough ,it works. This was an old reread- nice to remember why it was saved. The one damaged MC is lovely ,HFN but not convincing as HEA.
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