Rating: 5 stars
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Jake Manning is drowning in debt and barely making ends meet after taking care of his alcoholic mother and three younger sisters all his life. When he gets offered a job as a house cleaner, Jake jumps at the chance to bring in some more money, even though the client has a terrible reputation for being surly, rude, and incredibly hard to please. But Jake is pretty desperate, not to mention the kind of guy who can make the best of just about any situation, so he takes the job, determined to succeed.
It is pretty clear right away that Jake’s new client lives up to his reputation. Patrick communicates to Jake through a series of rude and demanding bullet pointed notes, listing out in detail all of Jake’s duties for the day. Patrick is blind, so in addition to keeping the house clean, Jake must be extremely aware of where furniture is placed and how things are labeled so Patrick can get around easily in his own home. It is hard work, but rather than be put off, Jake finds himself amused by Patrick. The man is so surly it becomes almost a game to Jake to see if he can be so perfect as to leave nothing for Patrick to complain about. Plus, Jake has a bit of smart mouth and can’t quite resist pushing back on Patrick when the man is impolite, reminding him that a please or thank you now and then wouldn’t be remiss.
One day Jake shows up for work and finds Patrick home sick. For the first time, Jake realizes Patrick is not a stuffy old man, but a gorgeous young guy that Jake finds super attractive. Jake helps take care of Patrick while he is sick, finally getting to know the man beyond their daily exchange of notes. Soon the men are finding they really like one another and a friendship develops that leads to more.
Jake finally has things going right in his life. He is making money to help pay off his debts. His sisters and mother finally seem to be getting on their own feet and handling their own lives. And he has a wonderful relationship with Patrick, a man he has fallen in love with and who returns his feelings. Jake is used to having to spend all his energy caring for others, and he is finally getting close to being able to live for himself and what he wants with Patrick. But when his family needs him once again, Jake must balance taking care of his family and living his own dreams of happiness with Patrick.
Oh, you guys, this book was so good! Right from the start I was totally smitten with Jake. He has pretty much dedicated his life to taking care of his family, stepping in for his alcoholic mother to essentially raise his sisters. Even now as they are mostly grown, Jake gives them money, stops by constantly to check on them, and basically makes whatever sacrifices are necessary to make their lives easier, even at the expense of his own. He works three jobs and barely gets by, but it would never occur to him not to help out his family.
So we know right from the start that Jake is pretty much a saint. But the part that really made me love him is that he has got a little bit of a smart mouth that gets him into trouble at times and keeps him from being absurdly perfect. The best part is seeing Jake interact with Patrick. Even before the men meet, Jake refuses to take shit from his mystery employer. Their banter through the daily notes is a riot and shows Jake’s playful side. I love that rather than being annoyed at Patrick, Jake is sort of delighted by him, somehow finding his rudeness an entertaining challenge. It cracked me up that he runs the notes through Patrick’s scan-and-read machine because it amuses him to hear the mechanical voice reading Patrick’s surly notes. Here Jake is reading one of Patrick’s daily notes (Patrick calls him Mrs. Huntley because he hasn’t realized Jake is the new housekeeper):
Dear Mrs. Huntley,
- There is a parcel waiting for me at the post office. Make sure you pick it up when you do the shopping today.
- The meat you bought last time was adequate. Buy it again.
- I have left an extra list of items I need from the chemist.
- You have changed your perfume. I don’t like it.
I read the note twice and with glee, ran it through the scan-and-read machine, just to hear it out loud. The man was a menace. I laughed at his last demand—You have changed your perfume. I don’t like it. It actually wasn’t a demand at all, just a statement of fact.
The interplay between these men is so much fun and the writing is so sharp and witty. By the time these guys meet face to face, I already adored both of them, even grouchy Patrick. What works so well is that Patrick actually ends up being a lovely, sweet man despite our initial impressions of him. His rigid rules are to keep himself safe and have some order in his house since he can not see. And yes, he is rude and forgets to ask nicely for things at first, but as soon as Jake makes it clear that is not acceptable, Patrick becomes a total sweetheart. I loved that we don’t lose the clever banter and energy between them, however, even after we see Patrick’s softer side. Here they are on a shopping trip together for dog food and supplies:
It turned out to be a fun trip. We found food for Gregor—extra-large, twenty-five kilo sacks that I hoisted into our rickety trolley, as well as worming tablets and some treatment for fleas. Patrick spent ages touching all the dog toys and making them squeak and rattle, much to my embarrassment. At one stage he picked up a toy and ran his fingers all over it before turning to me and asking, “Jake, what’s this?”
I rolled my eyes. “It’s a dildo. What the hell do you think it is? We’re in a bloody pet store.”
“Idiot. I mean what’s the shape meant to be? This one’s a doggie bone, and this one’s shaped like a meat steak. So what’s this?”
“It’s a sausage.”
“Oh. You’re right. It would work better as a dildo.”
I choked on my tongue, but that didn’t stop him, and the sexual innuendos began falling thick and fast while I ground my teeth and kept silent.
“Ooh. I like this dog collar. Would it fit you, do you think?
“Do you think I’d be arrested if I gave my dog a boner?
“What color are these? I think I have a serious case of blue balls over here.
“Jake, come here and feel this hairy snake.
“Look! Two fluffy balls!
“What the hell is this? It feels like a whip with a feather on the end of it.”
In exasperation I snatched the cat toy off him.
“It’s a feather you dangle for a cat to play with,” I growled.
His eyebrows went up. “I like things that dangle too. Do I get to play?”
The man is going to drive me insane!
Of course there were the blind jokes too.
“Fish. I think I should get some fish, don’t you think, Jake? Every blind man should have some fish to watch. Oh, wait…. Never mind.
“This stuff smells better than what I get from the shop. You should just chuck a couple of these in the biscuit tin and I’ll never know the difference!
“They have snakes for sale here? Cool! Can you take me? I always wanted to see one. Oh, wait…. Never mind.
“Do they have doggie sunglasses here, Jake? I want to get Gregor a pair so we can match. I’d love to see people’s reaction as they try to work out if it’s me or Gregor who is the blind one!
Kaye manages to balance the humor and wit of the story with two characters who have a lot of emotional baggage and who manage to find happiness with each other. As I said, Jake has pretty much given up everything for his family. He has supported them emotionally and financially for years, always putting them first even as he barely makes ends meet himself. All I wanted was to finally see him happy and living for himself. Patrick has his own issues, mostly centered around doubts of his own self worth. Growing up gay, blind, and fairly isolated because of his wealth, Patrick hasn’t had a lot of relationship experience. A bad break up where his ex made it clear Patrick was way too much work and definitely not worth it left Patrick fearful that anyone would want to really be with him. He knows he needs a lot of help and care, that he sometimes spills things or makes a scene unintentionally. So he doesn’t have a lot of confidence in himself or what others will see in him. So I loved seeing these two men who both are so good and sweet and caring find happiness with each other. They love and support one another and are so sweet and sexy together.
So I pretty much loved everything about this story. We have two incredibly likable heroes, a great plot that sees two good men finally find love and happiness together, and some really fun, clever writing. The Blinding Light is totally fabulous and I can’t recommend it more highly.
Cover Review: I really like this cover. It is not particularly specific to the book, but I love the color and the lighting. Very warm and inviting.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.