ILLUMINED SHADOWS by G.R. Lyons was a tough read, because there was great writing and well-developed characters, but a troublesome need to suspend my disbelief. The writing is very good. Clearly this is an experienced writer who knows how to tell a story. Each character was well-defined and had a great arc. I loved Cam and the dogs and the friendship between the men.
I did not enjoy the constant child-like portrayal of Colby, the secondary main character. He’s physically small, I get it, and liked to tuck his hands under his chin, I got that, too, but treating him like a child and not like the young man he is did him a major disservice. There was so much more room for growth, if only he’d been allowed to become an adult (man). I would have truly enjoyed the romance in this book if Colby had been allowed to mature, instead he was being kept in this child-like state by his portrayal as a boy.
For someone who wants to go into the business of adolescent counseling, Vic acted very out of character; I’m sure he’s aware of the ethics of counselling. This required major suspension of disbelief and could have easily been dealt with if Vic had had his idea of the halfway house/therapy business until after his success with Colby. I would love to see this changed a bit in a rewrite. It would ground this story in so much more realism and give it extra depth by NOT requiring suspension of disbelief from the reader.
Speaking of realism, the paranormal aspect was highly enjoyable and well done. The urban fantasy “alternate world” setting was almost non-existent. There were hints here and there and some magic thrown in. I have not read the previous books in this series and I wonder if I missed all the good world building and this one just relied too much on previous efforts.
Overall, I had a love-hate relationship with this book. I enjoyed the writing and growth in the characters, but did not enjoy the child-adult romance.