Declan Ramsay’s life has been changed completely by a man called Samuel Aiken. They were the best men at their mutual siblings’ wedding. They’d communicated via email for a year before the wedding…planning speeches, events, the bachelor party, and all other things nuptial. Declan was under the impression Samuel was a very young man, but upon learning he was very much an adult, he was drawn to Samuel in ways he’d never imagined before. Oh, by the way, Samuel is his boss’ son. His boss happens to be the head of an international spy agency, and Samuel is one of those spies.
Declan is still a little in shock over being in love with Samuel. He’s always thought he was straight, but he’d never been satisfied with his relationships with women. As soon as they declared their love for each other, Samuel disappears for three months and Declan becomes a shell of a man until Samuel walks into his apartment, ready to pick up where they left off.
After a passionate two-day reunion, Samuel tells Declan his father is going to be bringing him into the agency. What he doesn’t get the chance to tell him is the endurance tests he’ll have to undertake to prove he’s strong enough to be a spy will be nothing short of torture. Declan is kidnapped and put through the absolute ringer, but he’s willing to put up with anything to be able to be with Samuel…and to show his boss he’s more than up to the task.
Illuminate the Shadows is the sequel to As You Wish, the novella that introduces us to Declan and Samuel. I loved that story, and I really loved Illuminate the Shadows. It was damn near perfect. There was just the right balance of intrigue, action, love, humor, and sex.
Isobel Starling’s writing style is very smooth. She also includes a lot of detail without it being overwhelming. I was able to imagine how everything looked…from Declan and Samuel’s faces, to the room where Declan is held during his tribulation. I was immediately sucked into the story she was telling. I felt like I was deposited right into Declan and Samuel’s lives.
I think enjoyed is the wrong word to describe how I felt about Declan’s ordeal. It was harsh and disturbing. He went through so much, but I was impressed at how he came through it. His love for Samuel was so deep, and it was that love that made Declan press forward and not give up.
Samuel’s relationship with his father, Sir James Aiken, is also well fleshed out. He’s always wanted to please him and therefore agreed to be sent all over the world. However, Sir James is so unhappy with Samuel’s homosexuality he’s purposely sending him to countries where being gay is punishable by death. I am impressed with how Starling was able to write Sir James as such a hateful man. I actually felt sick to my stomach as I read scenes he was involved in.
I want to take a moment to talk about Declan and Samuel’s romance, and it is a true romance. It is wonderful! They had only had a week together before Samuel was sent off on yet another dangerous mission. It doesn’t matter it was such a short time. Their love for each other is powerful, and it was a delight to read. My heart felt huge, and my smile made my cheeks ache. Their touches and words were so moving, even though some of those words were absolutely filthy. Their sex scenes were incredible. There was almost a desperation about them as they clung to each other. I can’t go on enough about them, and I don’t think there’s enough flowery language out there to do them justice.
I highly recommend this book. I suppose it could be read as a stand alone, but I will tell you to read As You Wish first. It’s an adorable story about how Declan and Samuel meet, and it will warm you as much as Illuminate the Shadows does. I’m so thrilled this is the beginning of a series, and I can’t wait to read the next book.