For the last eight years, Christian Hernandez has been hiding from the world. A tragic accident left him heavily scarred and reluctant to interact with anyone, including his family. So he lives like a recluse in his apartment, works from home, and rarely goes out. But then building management decides it’s time to renovate the badly dated apartmenets and Christian’s sanctuary is first up. Now Christian must contend with the daily presence of handyman Josh Wendell.
There has been plenty of speculation regarding the mysterious tenant whose apartment Josh is directed to renovate. But instead of a boogeyman, Josh finds a witty, sweet man who is determined to remain secluded. Yet with patience and kindness, Josh begins to remind Christian that the world isn’t quite as a cruel as he thinks and that love defines beauty.
Out of the Shadows is a sweet, sometimes sappy, slow burning romance between two men who find happiness amidst the chaos of a home renovation. The writing is straightforward and while the plot is limited, it is works well enough for the scope of this particular book. The romance between Christian and Josh is truly a slow burn. There are no rushed emotions here and for fans of a long, drawn out courtship, there is plenty to love. Christian is generally a sympathetic character given his injury and isolation from the world. But readers can’t help remember this isolation is self-imposed and at times Christian feels too much a martyr to his situation. His self-loathing at one point makes him somewhat unsympathetic, but it doesn’t completely consume his character and ultimately his courage will win most readers over. Josh is an average Joe and his casual acceptance of Christian’s scars is equal parts beautiful and affirming. Both characters lack much real depth, but this doesn’t overly affect the enjoyment of their relationship and much of the time readers probably won’t even notice.
The biggest stumbling block for Out of the Shadows is pacing. I love a long romance, drawn out and built slowly over time, but the pacing has to be consistent. And this is something that Out of Shadows really struggled with. From the outset, the forward movement felt laggy and uneven. Some interactions flew, by while others seemed mired in treacle. It made reading the book frustrating as I could never find my groove with it and there were times I set it down with absolutely no interest in picking it back up. Additionally, the book has a somewhat abrupt end. We are given a happily ever after to some degree, but given how the story played out, the end just sort of happens, awkwardly and without much finesse.
Out of the Shadows is an extremely sweet book about two men who embrace beauty as an extension of love. Its characters are simple and their romance is tender rather than passionate, but Josh and Christian fit together nicely. The pacing leaves a lot to be desired and threatens to strangle the story at times, but for those of you who like slow burning romance, Out of the Shadows is going to hit all the right buttons.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.