Ever since the fateful night they met while stranded in a dark elevator, Makenna James and Caden Grayson have been inseparable. They're madly in love and considering taking things to the next level. But a trip to Makenna's home at Thanksgiving for Caden to meet her father and brothers doesn't entirely go as well as Caden had wanted. One of Makenna's brothers is antagonistic toward him and her ex is also unexpectedly present and trying to reconcile with her, leaving Caden thinking that maybe she deserves someone better than him. As he starts to think of their future, the fear of losing her like he lost his family plagues Caden, causing his PTSD to flare up in an intense way that it hasn't for years. Even though he loves Makenna like he's never loved anyone before, he can't help feeling that he's far too broken for someone as good as her and that maybe she'd be better off without him.
Love in the Light is a short novel that continues the story of Caden and Makenna that began in the novella, Hearts in Darkness. That story took place over just one night in the lives of these protagonists, and it had more of an HFN ending than an HEA. However, they shared such a phenomenal connection, I had no trouble seeing them being together forever and always. That said, though, I went into reading it knowing there was more to come, and I'm so glad that Laura Kaye decided to continue their story. The things they have to go through in this book to fight for their HEA really solidified their bond in my mind and made them even more cherished characters in my heart. Even though it also broke my heart a little, I loved every minute I spent reading Love in the Light. It's a deeply emotional story that I won't soon forget and that has earned Laura Kaye a spot on my favorite authors list.
Caden and Makenna have been magical together right from the start, but that magic falters a little in this book as Caden experiences an intense flare-up of his PTSD brought on by his relationship with Makenna moving so fast. He's let few people into his life and hasn't truly loved anyone the way he loves her since losing his family in a fatal car accident when he was only twelve. He harbors feelings of inadequacy, like he doesn't deserve someone as wonderful as Makenna and that if he allows himself to admit to loving her, she'll be taken from him like the rest of his family was. Not wanting to burden her with his problems, Caden ends up breaking up with her, while also spiraling out of control and finding himself buried deep in depression. He must work hard to find peace and closure for the past in order to move into a promising future. Caden is easily one of the most vulnerable heroes I've ever read in a romance. He's tormented by memories of the terrible accident that took his mother and younger brother, while also dealing with a severe case of survivor's guilt. But at the same time, he's a kind, compassionate man who wants nothing more than to help others in the same way that a kind EMT helped him at the crash site. He loves Makenna like crazy, but he's scared of losing her, too, which sends him into a funk. I just adored Caden and wanted to wrap him up in my arms to offer comfort and reassurance. I also give Ms. Kaye kudos for exploring the topic of mental illness - in the form of clinical depression, anxiety, and PTSD - through his character in a very realistic and sympathetic way.
The bulk of the story is about Caden's journey back to wholeness, but of course, Makenna has her own issues to deal with. Unexpectedly finding herself pregnant at about the same time Caden implodes leaves her wondering what the future holds for herself and her unborn child. Makenna is exactly the kind of woman Caden needs. She's no stranger to loss, her mother having died when she was a child. She's also a kind, understanding woman who wants to be an equal partner with him, but there comes a point where he doesn't allow her to do that. During the break-up, she leans on her family, her dad and three protective brothers who, for the most part, are all there for her. Makenna never stops loving Caden and doesn't give up on him finding his way back to her, even though things look bleak for a while. She's also incredibly forgiving once he does make it out of that dark place. I just loved her for being strong and determined to do whatever she had to do to make a life for herself and her child with or without Caden, but for leaving room in her heart for the man she cannot forget.
If you can't already tell, I absolutely loved Love in the Light. It's everything I read romance for. There are many books that I give five stars to, because they are extremely well-written and entertain me. But it's more rare for me to find five-star reads like this one that also give me all the feels I'm looking for when reading a book. My heart hurt for Caden as he battled his anxiety, depression, and PTSD, but it also hurt for Makenna, who was left alone, wondering and worrying. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out how they were going to find their way back to one another. This was a deeply emotional story that broke my heart a little, but mended it back together with a sweet HEA ending. Caden and Makenna will always be near the top of my favorite heroes and heroines list as well as being one of my all-time favorite romance couples. I can't wait to read the final wrap-up short story, Forever in the Light, even though I know, after that, I'll have a hard time letting them go. But I'm also eagerly looking forward to checking out Laura Kaye's other works.
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