Title: Out of the Blackness
Author: Carter Quinn
Cover Artist: SJL Graphics, LLC
Publisher: Carter Quinn Books
Buy Links: Buy Link Amazon
Genre: m/m contemporary romance
Length: Long novel (380 pages)
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by J.K. Hogan
Review Summary: An emotional journey of recovery and a young man learning to love—not only someone else, but himself as well.
A childhood of abuse has left Avery so physically and emotionally scarred he believes he shouldn’t be alive. His only sanctuary has been his relationship with his older foster brother Sam. Avery finally lets Sam convince him to start therapy to help overcome his crippling anxiety, but even that can’t prepare him for the upheaval caused by meeting Noah Yates.
Noah is everything Avery fears. He’s large and physically powerful—and undeniably capable of destroying Avery’s hard-earned progress. Although Noah seems to have a tender streak when it comes to him, Avery is terrified of being victimized again. But no matter how many times he tries to push him away, Noah never goes far.
Noah wants to save Avery, but can he be the catalyst Avery needs to begin the journey out of the blackness?
Out of the Blackness had a few factors that are usually stumbling blocks for me, so when I first picked up, I wasn’t sure. It’s written in first person, and I usually like to get both MC’s perspective, and it was told in present tense, which is something I’m not used to. And lastly, the chapters were l-o-o-o-n-g, though they did have plenty of scene breaks.
It may sound like I didn’t like this book. Au contraire, mes amis. I loved it. While there was no full on sex in the book, this was one of the most romantic stories I’ve read in a long time. I really didn’t miss it.
Don’t think this is a fluff piece though. It deals with some extremely tough issues like childhood emotional and physical abuse. I’m not going to deny that some of it is hard to read—but is presented in such a way that you can’t not read it.
The main character is Avery. Poor, terrified, tortured Avery. I’m in love with him. After his father dies, Avery is abused by his mother and her boyfriend, Carl, and Carl’s two kids from a previous relationship. The abuse not only leaves physical scars, but it leaves Avery believing that he doesn’t deserve love and, in fact, deserves to be hurt and eventually killed.
Eventually, Avery’s mother abandons him at a fire station, and he ends up in a group home with other troubled kids. He and his friend Joey become a target for a bully and his cronies, and are beaten up daily. Then Sam comes along and befriends Avery and begins to protect him. Sam and Avery end up living together and having a brother-like relationship. Sam considers Avery his little brother, and takes care of him through all of his abuse-driven anxiety.
Avery has some very deep-seated issues and they are not glossed over in this book. He is, among other things, extremely antisocial, terrified of other people, and prone to panic attacks. He identifies with Rogue of the X-men because he can’t let anyone touch him, on any level. The reader is inside Avery’s head during his panic attacks, his memories, and his therapy sessions. Like I said, it’s not easy.
Along comes Noah. Noah is a big, sexy, sweet, smart guy. I’m in love with him, too. We find out that Noah is a psychology major in college, and instinctively seems to know how to approach Avery and all his neuroses. When they first meet, Avery is terrified of him because of his sheer size. Avery has learned that those who are bigger and stronger than he will always abuse him.
Noah sets out on a slow courtship, trying to coax Avery out of his shell. It is a long, daunting road. He has to gain Avery’s trust when he is the embodiment of everything Avery fears. The relationship builds in spite of Avery—despite Avery’s attempts to convince everyone, especially himself, that he doesn’t deserve to be loved. Noah is adorable and sweet, and has the patience of a saint. He genuinely sees a beautiful person inside Avery’s shy façade and never gives up on coaxing him out.
Realistically, Noah shouldn’t be so perfect. He should have slipped up, though if he had, that would have been the end of the relationship. So he does everything right, and even then, it looks as though he may never break through Avery’s defenses.
Despite the lack of on-page sex—which I’m not going to pretend I don’t like—the chemistry between the two of them sizzles off the page. There’s no way Avery could have been ready for a fully sexual relationship in the amount of time the book spans, but he makes leaps and bounds towards being able to show and accept affection.
The secondary characters in Out of the Blackness were stellar as well, and I wish we could learn even more about them. Sam and his girlfriend Kira, and her twin brothers, added depth to the story. They were the little circle of trust in which Avery felt safe. Without them, he probably wouldn’t have survived.
This book tore me up in that I just wanted to take Avery home and protect him, and make it all better. Which, I guess is eventually what Noah did. But seeing Avery get his HEA made me just as happy as his history made me sad.
If you can handle all of the pain Avery goes through—and really even if you can’t—I recommend picking this one up. It’s a unique telling of a damaged young man finding his perfect love story. Once I was able to dig into it, I struggled to put it down at all. I’ll definitely be looking for more from Carter Quinn in the future.
Favorite Quote: My gaze flicks up from the smile on his luscious lips to his eyes and I’m instantly lost and found at the same time.