My sister Julia manipulated my life into a prison to keep me silent about our dirty family secret. Her greed made me a slave and circumstance left me with no way to escape.
Trapped, the only way I could silence the nightmares driving me to insanity was to wrap them in color, hold them with shadow, and stitch them to negative space with line.
But no matter how bright the pigments, no one could see my confession.
Except for Roy Callahan.
I thought he was just another nameless one-night stand in a long line of many.
But I was wrong. Roy could see past the façade of my life and through the veil color over the canvas. He could see what the world couldn’t.
And with him I’d find the courage to tell the truth about the boy.
The boy who kissed me.
The boy who loved me.
The boy whose name I couldn’t remember.
Book Title: Complementary Colors
Author: Adrienne Wilder
Cover Artist: Adrienne Wilder
Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance
Trope/s: From different worlds
Themes: mental illness, PTSD, HEA
Heat Rating: 5 flames
Length: 362 pages
It is a standalone story.
I knew he didn’t belong the moment I saw him.
He wasn’t cut by money or shaped by political interests, and the rental he wore was a bad joke in the ocean of Versace suits and Chanel ball gowns, fitting him tight across the shoulders and short in the arms. A belt held up his pants, and the waves of extra fabric did nothing to accentuate the ass I knew was just as perfect as the rest of him.
I drank my champagne while the stranger picked his way through the clumps of people gathered in front of the hideous paintings I had on display.
“Paris, darling, Mr. Darcy was asking you about one of your works.” Julia put her hand on my arm. I ignored my sister and Mr. Darcy. Whatever it was he wanted to say to me, I’d heard it before; Mind-blowing, so unique, see the passion, the fire, and my favorite, it speaks to me.
Only one person could see the dirty secret hidden within the lines, the color, the violence.
I handed Julia my empty glass.
She tightened her grip on my arm. “These people came a long way to meet you.”
They always came a long way to meet me. Even if it was a block away.
“Bathroom,” I said. Julia frowned. I think she knew I was lying but didn’t want to call me out on it in front of her friends. I peeled away her fingers. “If you don’t mind, of course.” I slipped into the crowd.
Julia would give Mr. Darcy and his flavor-of-the-year wife some excuse on my behalf. Then she’d slay them with her silver tongue, and by the end of the night, they’d write a check for some ungodly amount and buy a piece of hell I’d spewed out into the world.
They’d hang it in their country home or put it in their yacht. They’d smile and laugh and remain deaf to the confession screaming to be told.
Heat from the track lighting pressed down on my shoulders. Greetings cast out by guests floated in shades of black and gray.
I followed the stranger’s trail of color all the way to the back of the gallery. He disappeared around a partition and through a door. I checked to see if anyone was watching before I went in.
Cold fluorescents replaced track lighting, and the hum of the ventilation system snuffed out a burst of laughter. There were only two doors in the maintenance hall, besides the one that shut behind me.
A deep mechanical sound chugged from behind the one left open. I slipped inside and turned the knob so I could control the catch.
The man crouched beside an opening in one of the large metal units. Even on his knees, I could tell he was about my height, but his shoulders were wide, and his limbs were thick.
I hoped that trait didn’t stop at his legs and arms.
After a few minutes, he seemed satisfied and replaced the panel. When he stood, I had a brief glimpse of the curve of his ass when his slacks tightened.
He turned and dropped the tools he held. His hip hit the metal hull of the unit, and it boomed.
“Jesus Christ. You scared the shit out of me.”
A five o’clock shadow dusted his jaw, hardening his features enough to make him look dangerous. And there was already no doubt left in my mind that he could kill me if he wanted to.
He wiped his hands with a rag from his pocket. Scars crossed the knuckles of his callused fingers. The thought of his rough grip on my body left me hard.
“I replaced the coil.” The sound of his voice wrapped me in red and tied me up with gold. “That should relieve some of the strain on the unit. It’s pretty old, though.” He put his tools into a toolbox. “You might want to consider replacing it.”
I engaged the lock on the door.
He followed me with his eyes as I made a half circle around him. His physical appearance didn’t make him alluring. It was how he carried himself. Like a man who was one with the world and not above it. I grazed a look up and down his body.
“I’ll send you a bill.” He reached for his toolbox.
I got in the way, trapping him against the air-conditioning unit.
“Is there something else you ne—” He cleared his throat. “Need?”
“Are you afraid of me?”
He pulled himself to his full height. “Do I have a reason to be?”
“On how much the idea of fucking me appeals to you.”
Mental illness, broken characters, angst, art…all are kryptonite for me. The story is told from Paris’ point of view, which is both beautiful, troubling and terrifying.
Color is everything to Paris. He sees color everywhere. And he puts the color to canvas to tell a story he cannot tell. But his paintings are abstract so no one can see what he is actually saying. Except for Roy.
Roy is everything Paris isn’t. Poor, works labor jobs for little money, has no pretense, tells it like it is, honest to a fault. But they are drawn together like magnets.
Paris has a wildly successful career as an artist, but he is controlled by his sister Julia. She is a classic abuser “you make me” “if it wasn’t for you” “I only do it because I love you”. It was chilling.
This would have been an entirely different book if it was from someone else’s POV or in the third person. But it HAD to be told from Paris’ POV. To understand his mania and PTSD and his life as a victim of abuse.
I absorbed every word of this book. It is long, it is detailed, but it is necessary to tell the story. I almost feel like the relationship between Paris and Roy takes second place to the story of Paris’ mental state. That is almost a character in and of itself.
There was no sugar coating of his mental illness. It was honest and true in a way that not a lot of books are willing to go. But reading books like this help build compassion for the people out there in the world. You have no idea what is going on inside their heads. Armani suits on the outside, bruises and imaginary rabbits on the inside.
4.75 pieces of eye candy
I am a writer of contemporary and speculative fiction and artist of all things monster. I live to create new worlds and the people in them. Several of my books have been best sellers both nationally and internationally. I have also been a finalist in the LAMDA awards, the “Oscars” of gay literary works.
I do my best to write original stories with powerful characters and emotion as well as a fast-paced plot. My goal isn’t just to deliver a good story but to take the reader into the story and let them experience the characters as if they are right there with them.
While almost all my books have a romantic element, I will be the first to admit, they are not traditional romance. In fact, I’d like to think there is nothing traditional about them. And the stories I paint are done so way outside the lines of traditional genres.
One of my favorite things to do as a writer is push the boundaries of what makes a story and to deliver the unexpected and maybe even change the perspective of the reader.
My characters are more often than not, beautifully flawed, not always the good guy, and make mistakes. Their stories will take dark turns which, in the end, make the light at the end of the tunnel all the brighter.
If you’re looking for something different, exciting, and unique, my books are for you.
Check out my website for updates and how to contact me. I love hearing from fans.
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