Reviewed by Elizabetta

IlluminationTITLE: Illumination
AUTHOR: Rowan Speedwell
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 307 pages
BLURB: Adam Craig is burned out. Lead singer of the hard rock band Black Varen, he’s tired of the empty life of groupies, paparazzi, and hotel rooms. Worse, a life in the closet. After the final concert of their latest tour, he flees the after-party in pursuit of memories of lost summers and carefree days, until he passes out on the patio of a shuttered lake resort.

Miles Caldwell is a brilliant artist, tied by agoraphobia and social anxiety to his family’s lodge. Alone but for his parrot, he spends his days illuminating manuscripts and hiding from the complexities of life. When he discovers Adam asleep in a deck chair, he’s furious but intrigued. Adam soon charms his way into Miles’ bed, and they lose themselves in a summer idyll, safe from the compromises and claims of reality.

But Adam’s life, with all its demands, is waiting for him. And Miles, uncertain of Adam’s true feelings, is battling demons of his own. Somehow, the man who’s never home and the man who never leaves it must find the strength to fight for a future together.


Light, warmth, passion. And some turmoil to make the falling in love even sweeter.

I think I was smiling much of the time reading this.

Miles, is a gifted artist, he illuminates precious manuscripts, turning plain text into decorated works of art, much as church monks of the Middle Ages did before the time of the printing press. He makes his own period pigments, drafts the fancy lettering, and carefully paints in the elaborate embellishments. It’s like lush embroidery on paper. The addition of fine gold leaf elevates it, making the text glow. Miles loses himself in his work, quill in hand, working long hours to bring perfection to the page. His art helps him forget, keeps the fears at bay.

Adam, famous metal rock star, long-haired and golden-eyed music god, illuminates Miles. Fires him up, brings him back into life. Gives him companionship and hope. Adam is a jaded musician but he knows compassion and gentleness.

It is sweet reading, getting to know Miles and Adam. The author nicely balances that early glowing awareness the guys have for each other with the darkness always lurking for Miles… He has memory loss resulting from a horrific, long ago car accident that killed his parents. He’s recovered physically, but his fears have left him an agoraphobic recluse shutting himself away from the world on his lake-side family estate. Lucky for him, Adam, trying to flee all the rock-star crap, drops into his life. Adam sees the sweet guy beneath all the cranky. The mystery becomes how one guy tethered to his home, a prisoner to his fears, can make a relationship with another guy who is always on the move and lives hundreds of miles away.

I loved the set-up, the isolation of Miles and Adam at the lake house, the time they spend together, learning each other. It immerses them and the reader into a kind of dreamy other-world, intimate and protected.

“… he ran his fingers gently over Adam’s cheekbone, trailing them around this ear as if the curve of cartilage were something rare and precious… his eyes gone smoky blue and deep in thought, the way they did when he was thinking about his art. Adam felt… like Miles’s attention was on him the way a curator’s might be on a sculpture he was deciding to acquire.”

These two artists teach each other about their respective work– we feel Miles’s passion for illuminating, we learn about Adam’s obsession with musical theatre. They are awestruck, tender, and caring. They make each other laugh. It felt like falling in love as they fall in love. And yet…

The psychological trauma that keeps Miles shut away informs all his thoughts and actions. His memory loss disconnects him from his childhood when his artistic gifts were taking hold and moving in a different direction. The boy who created glorious paintings is now a man confined to copying an old art form.

“That’s all he does now, copy the way things were done five hundred years ago, as if reconnecting with someone else’s history makes up for lacking his own.”

It is a childhood lost; he is lost and can’t find his way back to a semblance of normal. The second half of the book takes a darker tone because of the limitations this puts on the guys’ relationship.

There are supporting characters, critical to the story, that deserve a mention. Lisa, Miles’s sister, is a caring, supportive force in his life; I really liked her in the story. Doug and Robert are a committed couple and childhood friends of Miles that have stood by him, giving him comfort in an unorthodox way. There’s also Grace, Miles’s African grey parrot, whose mimicking adds some laughs. The author does a fine job building these characters and weaving them into the story.

In general, the pacing is good, there were a few repetitive sections, and there is a lot of information given about the art of illumination, but I was happy for every page. I really got into these guys and their journey. This is not just a fluffy romance. Miles has serious issues that give the piece a dark edge… and yet it is infused with hope and light.

Elizabetta’s Rating:

BUY LINK: Riptide  ::  Amazon (Paperback)

Elizabetta is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: ELIZABETTA’S REVIEWS


Rowan Speedwell lives in a tarpaper shack in the North Woods, without so much as cable TV to keep her warm. Compared to her, J.D. Salinger is an extrovert. She is allergic to publicity and loathes marketing, so her books only sell one or two copies. If you have one, she thanks you, as your purchase enables her to buy cat food for her diabetic feline companion, Kimball O’Hara.

She does have internet, when she hikes to the top of the mountain and fires up her PC Jr., so visit her website or follow her on Twitter at @rowanspeedwell if you need to request a refund for the one book you did buy.




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CONTEST WILL END ON 6th October, 2013 @ 11:59 PM Central Time!!

  1. DebraG says:

    I have read about this book and it looks amazing. I am going to have to get it.

  2. Barbra says:

    This book sounds wonderful! 🙂

  3. Shirley Ann Speakman says:

    Name*: Shirley Ann Speakman
    Email ID*
    The book sounds really good I love Rock star books!!!

  4. Lisa says:

    Mobi for Kindle
    I always enjoy Rowan’s stories. I’ve been looking forward to this one since I saw it on Riptide’s site. The fact that it involves a rock star makes it even better. 🙂 Thanks for the giveaway!

  5. Cornelia says:

    Sounds like a great read.

  6. Urbanista says:

    I love illuminated manuscripts! And I’m certainly a Rowan Speedwell fan I also wish my name was Rowan Speedwell. I think an actual illuminated cover would have been nice for this book. Some Hiberno-Saxon majiscule, perhaps. I’m rambling. Can’t wait to read this!

  7. Leni says:

    Thank you for this giveaway, please enter me. Just reading the blurb generates my interest in this book and above that after reading Finding Zach and Kindred Hearts I cant wait to read this:)

  8. Cynthia
    Thank you so much for the opportunity! This sounds like a good read and I’d love to read it.

  9. Jen says:

    Thanks for the giveaway! “Kindred Hearts” was the first m/m historical I ever read and I blame it in part for being pulled into m/m. 😉 Also really loved “Finding Zach.” This one sounds like another great story!

  10. H.B. says:

    Sounds fantastic. Thank you so much for the chance to win.

  11. Debra E says:

    Debra E
    Mobi/kindle format

    I’ve enjoyed a few of Ms.Speedwell’s books and this one sounds great!

  12. RowanS says:

    Thanks, Elizabetta, for a wonderful review!! And thanks to all of YOU for your kind comments! Good luck!!

  13. Valeri says:

    Can’t wait. Love your books. Thanks for the giveaway.

  14. Andrea M says:

    Andrea M
    andreanow1999 at
    mobi format for kindle

    This is a great review and I can’t wait to read the book! Finding Zach is one of my all time favorites.

  15. Marie says:

    Name: Marie
    Email ID: awindandbooks at gmail dot com
    The format in which you’d prefer to read the book, in case you win: Mobi format, please
    Message to the author: This books sounds fantastic. I’ve heard so many great reviews already! Congratulations on your release! Please count me in. Thank you!

  16. Loren says:

    Name: Lorena

    Mail: m e v a l e m 2 5 8 ( a t ) g m a i l ( d o t ) c o m

    Format: epub and pdf

    I’d like read about not-so-wonderful rockstar’s life, it’s an interesting book, thank you for the chance…

  17. Penumbra says:

    This sounds really good. Count me in please 🙂

  18. dani says:

    ooh i really loved the review Elizabetta!
    would love to read the book~!
    count me in for the give away please!!

  19. Michelle (MiMi) says:

    Michelle (Mi)
    Mobi for my kindle please…
    I had just added this to my wishlist this morning 🙂
    Thanks for the opportunity

  20. Carolyn says:

    caroaz [at] ymail [dot] com
    epub, please
    Wonderful review, Elizabetta. Thank you so much for sharing with us, Rowan. Illumination sounds like it’ll be a great read.

  21. pointycat says:

    mobi please

    This looks intriguing; not only do I want to know what happens to the characters but I’m also interested in the illumination as I love the old illuminated letters 🙂

  22. Allison says:

    aahickman at hotmail dot com

    I have read any of your books as of yet, they are in the list but somehow I’ve not gotten to them. This sounds very good. Thank you for giveaway.

  23. Trix says:

    Thanks so much for the review–it sounds like a very engaging story!

  24. chickie434 says:

    Thanks for the review, it definitely sounds like my kind of book.

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