Today I’m reviewing The Blinding Light by Renae Kaye. It was a short, fun read at 221 pages. There are no warnings with this story, no violence to speak of. Let’s jump in with the blurb.
A Novel in The Tav series
Jake Manning’s smart mouth frequently gets him into trouble. Because of it, he can’t hold a job. Combined with some bad luck, it’s prevented him from keeping steady employment. A huge debt looms over him, and alone he shoulders the care of his alcoholic mother and three younger sisters. When a housekeeping position opens, Jake’s so desperate he leaps at the opportunity. On landing, he finds his new boss, Patrick Stanford, a fussy, arrogant, rude… and blind man.
Born without sight, Patrick is used to being accommodated, but he’s met his match with Jake, who doesn’t take any of his crap and threatens to swap all the braille labels on his groceries and run off with his guide dog unless he behaves. Jake gets a kick out of Patrick. Things are looking up: the girls are starting their own lives and his mum’s sobriety might stick this time. He’s sacrificed everything for his family; maybe it’s time for him to live his life and start a relationship with Patrick. When his mother needs him, guilt makes his choice between family and Patrick difficult, and Jake must realize he’s not alone anymore.
Even though it’s a novel in a series, it appears to be completely stand alone, as I had zero trouble reading this without having read any of the others.
I was particularly happy to see the subject of blindness tackled. When I was younger, I used to go with my Grandmother to transport children to and from the blind school in our area, so it was great to see a story about a blind person who was doing okay on his own. I liked that the story was realistic on the allowances a blind person has to make to navigate their lives and what they require from people close to them to keep everything going day to day. I also liked that even though Patrick is blind he wasn’t a sympathetic character. He very much was the lord of his own manner even though he couldn’t see. I like the lighthearted way the characters dealt with his problem and that Patrick wasn’t particularly upset about being blind, since it is the way he’s always been, but sometimes he’s upset about the reactions from other people it causes.
I previously reviewed a book by Kaye, Loving Jay, and once again, she’s spot on with characterization. She’s great at creating a character and sticking with it. She’s very masterful at interpersonal interaction. Patrick and Jake play off each other very well. I also like the way she builds Jake’s family. There are particularly singular family rituals that all families have, like the girls reciting The Truth about Jake, which was hilarious. This book was a little more serious than Loving Jay, but it still had it’s funny highlights and I was generally more amused reading this book than I have been with anything except Loving Jay in a good long while. I like reads that are both serious and funny.
Jake’s mother’s alcoholism was something that made my heart bleed in this book. I almost put this under the bad section just because I hate things like this so much. Not the way it was portrayed, because no, that was exceptionally realistic, but because I grew up dealing with my own mother’s selfishness and alcoholism. It’s hard for me to objectively evaluate stories with alcoholic parents, especially ones like this where the main character doesn’t resent them for the most part, loves them, and takes care of them. It’s not that easy to forgive someone for ripping away chunks of your childhood and I am immediately put off by any story where it happens. BUT, the author portrayed it well, so it was actually a good part of the story. For the record, however, I don’t believe anyone who was an alcoholic for as long as the mother was said to have been would have been able to stop drinking the way they did, even if they were pregnant and worried about the baby I don’t think they would have. That’s just me being a bit pessimistic though.
I think it’s a testament to how good the story is that I was able to keep reading and take the alcoholic parent in stride.
I think the author was actually a bit optimistic with how Patrick gets treated while he’s out on the town. Of course, he is attractive, but people are frequently downright rude to folks with differences. If you want to see how rude and horrible people can be, go out with someone who has a disability of some sort. Go with a blind friend or a friend in a wheelchair out to dinner and you will be astounded at the utter crap they put up with on a daily basis. Staring. Sometimes people will treat them like they’re mentally handicapped even when there is no indication of it. Occasionally servers are visibly irritated when they see someone at their table that might require special attention. Maybe my home city is just particularly rude, but I don’t think so. I don’t think the author should have necessarily put anything like that in her book, this was a lovely romance after all, but it set me to thinking about all the things I’ve seen over the years.
Patrick is rich. Yeah, he’s blind, but he’s a rich man who wants a househusband. This is kind of the ultimate “romance” trope. And Jake comes around to the idea of being a househusband pretty easily. The trope: Rich, handsome man wants poor, less attractive, but pure hearted, hardworking person, and will take care of them forever and ever. This story didn’t go quite that far with it, but the trope appeal is still there. It was done pretty well though, and I actually didn’t mind it. It didn’t come across as cheesy. It makes sense for the character that Jake would want to be a househusband, but isn’t it nice that Patrick has enough money that he can pay all of Jake’s debts? Maybe I’m just being a bitter asshole because I don’t have a gorgeous rich guy like Patrick to pay my bills. Could be…
Some of the analogies in this book were fun and some were duds. I like a good analogy as well as anyone, but not everything needs one. Having two side characters run the rails off analogies were maybe a bit much. The one from Charlie at the Tav about the seven dwarves was good, the one from Jake’s Mom was interesting, but not my favorite.
At certain points the dialogue gets really long and a little chintzy, like when Patrick and Corrine are talking about Jake when he’s eaves dropping. It’s almost a little preachy. I’m not sure what exactly I didn’t like about that short section of the book, but it was serious and felt like a lot more work than the rest of the book when I was reading. Charlie does it too at some point in the book, just a lot of exposition and explaining to the main character that leads to a huge revelation. It didn’t slap me across the face as I was reading, but looking back on it I didn’t enjoy it much.
Kind of like the last story, Loving Jay, things almost work out too easy for the main characters. I hate to be that way, as things really weren’t that easy for them, but …it just seems like they end up with everything they ever wanted in a short amount of time with less drama than would be realistic.
This is another short, sweet story from Kaye along the same lines as Loving Jay. It’s character driven, as in most of the story is about the characters and not some overarching plot line, which is fine. I liked it a lot and would buy it again given the chance. I’ll probably end up reading it again at some point too.
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