Title: In the Absence of Monsters
Author: J.P. Barnaby
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Pages/Word Count: 146000 Words
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: Jayden Carter knew the path he wanted his life to take. He wanted to get his Master’s Degree in History and teach. But when he answered an ad for a roommate and met mysterious doctor, Ethan Bryant, he’s brought into a world he never knew existed and his path changes.
It changes again for Jayden and he leaves Ethan with their friend, Lexi, in tow. Ethan loses himself in a haze of self-destruction and pain. With the help of a childhood friend, Gabriel, Ethan battles the demons of his childhood and finds a way to survive. Gabriel and Jayden wage an epic war for Ethan, but in the end, they may all end up losing.
Review: Jayden Carter can’t sleep on his sister’s couch forever, so when he sees an ad for a room for rent, he calls about it and is immediately intrigued by the man who placed the ad. When he meets Ethan Bryant, the intrigue continues to grow, and Jayden has no idea that his life is going to change in ways he never thought possible.
Ethan Bryant is a tough nut to crack. When Jayden moves into the man’s house, all he knows is that the man is a doctor and he keeps to himself, for the most part. One night, Jayden sees Ethan leading a beautiful young woman toward the “secret” door at the end of the hall. Ethan had told Jayden that room was off limits, but that just makes Jayden want to check it out. What Jayden finds in that room is the one thing he never knew he wanted, let alone needed.
Once Jayden enters Ethan’s playroom, he discovers a life he soon can’t live without. With Lexi by his side and Ethan leading them both, he finds a peace he never knew was possible. At the same time, he is experiencing feelings he never had for a man before. This scares Jayden, and little does he know that Ethan is having the same feelings and the same fears.
Over time, life moves on for the three of them and with Lexi in New York, Ethan and Jayden form a more solid bond between them, but neither of them knows how to define it. When a family tragedy causes Jayden to move back to Chicago, Ethan is left alone with feelings he can’t explain. Lexi has joined Jayden, and Ethan doesn’t recognize the jealousy for what it is, and he copes the only way he knows how. This leads him down a path of self-destruction that Jayden and Lexi try to rescue him from.
With the help of Jayden and Lexi, Ethan eventually works his way out of a depression, and uses his new found strength to reconnect with his estranged family. Through his parents, he also reconnects with a childhood friend, Gabriel. His relationship with Gabriel opens Ethan’s eyes to some truths he has never acknowledged, and he also realizes that his heart has known where it belongs long before Ethan’s mind had caught up.
With the loss of a loved one, Ethan and Jayden have to figure out what they are to one another, where Gabriel and the others fit in, and if they can survive without one another.
This is a very emotional story from J.P. Barnaby. There is plenty of family drama, love, loss and self-destruction. As always, though, Ms. Barnaby takes these broken men, patches them up, and sets them back on their feet to carry on. This story is a journey for both Jayden and Ethan. They both have plenty of things they have to come to terms with. Ethan’s childhood, Jayden’s acceptance of his own submission, and these two men who believed they were straight have to try to come to terms with loving another man.
I highly recommend this story, but I will warn you; stock up on the Kleenex and be ready for a bumpy ride. This is not an easy story to witness, but I promise the finale is worth the trip.