Blue Ribbon Rating: 4 out of 5Original Review Link
It’s 1955 and life isn’t always easy for an Austrian immigrant, but Rafe Colman makes it work. He’s a successful real estate agent, has a lovely home, an adoring dog, the ladies love him and he has casual friendships with his coworkers. On the surface, everything’s going Rafe’s way. Only Rafe knows that his perfect life has come at a cost: hiding who he truly his. Rafe — born Rolf Kohn — keeps his religion and his sexuality a secret from everyone. At least, he does until his home is vandalized and he’s thrown into the path of Officer Ben Morgan. What starts out as a friendship becomes something much more. But Rafe’s seen firsthand the true evil of prejudice and he fears his growing attachment to Ben could destroy them both. Ben’s confident that he and Rafe can make their secret relationship work, but Rafe’s dire predictions might prove right when Ben’s partner threatens to ruin everything.
There’s plenty of beauty and sorrow to be found in SECRET LIGHT. Author Z.A. Maxfield takes on the challenge of delivering a powerful romance between two men set in a time where homophobia and anti-Semitism were commonplace even in Los Angeles. Rafe’s story broke my heart many times and it’s easy to see why he chooses to bury himself under layers of the persona he’s adapted. It takes meeting Ben for Rafe’s inner spark to ignite and it was pure joy to see Ben bring the true Rafe to light over the course of the story. Ben’s sweetness and, well, pure goodness are like a beacon even in the darkest moments of SECRET LIGHT. Ms. Maxfield made it easy for me to become invested in not only Rafe and Ben as individuals, but as a couple. I wanted to see them beat the odds and find happiness.
Ms. Maxfield perfectly balances the darker aspects with moments of joy in SECRET LIGHT. She also does an exceptional job of transporting the reader to post-World War II Los Angeles. If I had one wish it would be for the ending to be a bit more fleshed out; things did feel a bit rushed. That being said, I thought SECRET LIGHT was a lovely, well-written romance that will warm your heart.
Note: My review was written for Romance Junkies and is cross-posted here courtesy of Romance Junkies.