Title: I Can See For Miles
Author: Lisa Worrall
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Amazon: Buy Link I Can See For Miles
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Disability
Length: Novel (189 pages/approx 51k words)
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn
One Sentence Review: Insta-Love fought with lack of character development and over-sweetness, leaving a not great taste in my mouth
After a kayaking accident took Josh Donald’s sight, he’s faced with learning to negotiate the world as a blind man. In short order, his boyfriend leaves him behind, making it clear he’s not inclined to deal with special needs. Reeling from the blow, Josh flounders. In an attempt to help, Josh’s friends take him to a camp for the blind, where he falls for the camp organizer, Charlie Cooper. Charlie seems to feel the attraction too, but when a horse named Dottie pushes them into a hot first kiss, Charlie resists. He believes he’s damaged goods, not boyfriend material. Since the accident, Josh has faced tough obstacles, but the most challenging hurdle of all may be getting Charlie to open up and take a chance on love.
I am a sucker for stories about characters with challenges. Sometimes I get sick of reading about perfect people living relatively perfect lives, so give me someone in a wheelchair or on crutches, deaf, blind, with mental issues, scarred – whatever – once in a while and I am a happy camper. I had high hopes, therefore, when I picked out this story that I would get a decent view (no pun intended) of a blind man’s perspective. Unfortunately it was an underwhelming disappointment with several big issues that prevented me from enjoying this decently-written, character-driven, mostly saccharine-sweet romance fully.
First, the blurb isn’t entirely accurate. I read into it that we would find an emotionally-wounded person on the immediate – or very recent – rebound from a both a breakup and sudden blindness. That isn’t entirely true and leads me to my first issue: because we meet Josh eight months after his accident (and therefore missed witnessing what he went through, physically and emotionally) I had trouble believing that he adapted to and accepted this unexpected, life-altering situation in those short eight months with apparent decent humour, especially since he was also adjusting to and healing from his boyfriend leaving him because of said blindness. We’re told:
Josh’s accident eight months ago had changed their lives irrevocably. His recovery had been long and arduous, with Greg and Mario beside him every step of the way.
While I do realize that everyone handles things differently and I can certainly be wrong (I am no expert), eight months just seems so…fast. I maybe would have believed eighteen months instead – or even a year. Alternately, I could have believed it if we were given reasons why his acceptance and adaptation was accelerated – perhaps through conversation with Charlie? Internal thoughts? – but we weren’t. We’re just told that he did it quickly:
It was true that, in his effort to show Alec he could cope, Josh had adapted to his disability a lot quicker than anyone had anticipated—including Josh.
At one point, Mario, one of Josh’s best friends who brought him to the camp, says about Josh and his kidding around with some of the people there and his attraction to Charlie:
“They don’t know it’s all an act. One big show to stop them from seeing the frightened little kid peeking out from behind the curtains, and that’s what worries me. He’s so vulnerable…”
Really? I actually wanted this to be true; I wanted to see Josh’s vulnerability, his fears, his concerns, but this is one of numerous tell, not show moments. We’re given a generally jovial, shallow (character-development-wise) Josh. We know very little about him. I kept thinking that I wanted to know how old he was, what he did for a living before the accident, how he was getting income now. How did he really feel about being blind? Did he spend every day learning Braille (because apparently after eight months he knew it, even when many blind adults struggle with learning it)? How did they have to adjust the place where he and his friends live for his new situation? Where were his parents? Did he have other friends besides Greg and Mario?
The author did spend more time on developing Charlie, and I felt I knew him somewhat better; more of the story is told from his perspective (which, btw, is actually another blurb issue, since it makes it seem that the story is about Josh, but I really think it’s mostly Charlie’s story) and we are going through his most recent visual problems with him. While I had some sympathy for what he was going through (pre-asshat behavior aside, later on this) and even though I never really warmed up to him, he is a deeper character. But even at this, I felt that Worrall missed a great opportunity for showing us how the blind (and going blind) cope and live because I felt that she just barely skimmed the surface.
Second big issue: Insta-Attraction leading to Insta-Love within a few days. Nuff said.
Third, without going into details that would be spoiler-ish, the Charlie-created melodrama and the fact that he knew what it would do to Josh had me shaking my fists at my reader and wanting to punch him. I wasn’t exactly enamoured of Charlie before that, so when this scene came along, I was so over him. It’s the worst kind of emotional abuse, and regardless of Charlie’s rationalized reasons, isn’t acceptable to me.
Lastly, be forewarned that outside of the aforementioned scene (and its after-effects), this is saccharin-sweetness in everyone-is-perfectly-fine-with-gays-topia-land. Between match-making, meddling friends and family, overly-adorable kids, and a perfect epilogue, you may need to see your dentist after reading it.
This wasn’t for me, but fans of the author and those who want some diverse characters may like it better.