In the Absence of Monsters contains one strong recurring theme, that of questioning established definitions. The definitions of sexuality, recovery, and love are examined throughout the book. The relationship between Ethan and Jayden challenges their understanding of their respective sexualities. Ethan comes to terms with his sexuality, he works toward recovery, but the one concept he can’t quite grasp is love. He understands love in an intellectual way: the love of his mother, the love of a friend, the love you feel for a puppy, but the idea of a romantic love eludes him. As the victim of traumatic childhood sexual abuse, Ethan forced himself at a young age to separate any emotion from physical touch in order to survive. As he got older and began to have consensual sexual relationships, that connection did not re-establish.
A conscientious and respected Dom in his community, Ethan has found a way to control the monster who lurks in the back of his closet. The man who hurt him, the nameless, faceless demon, may be in prison, but his influence continues to haunt his victim. Coming into the novel, we see that Ethan is close to his most cherished submissive, Lexi Morgan. We find that Ethan is desperate to love her, to have some kind of relationship, and has no idea why he can’t. Not until Jayden Carter walks into his life and turns it upside down.
The novel In the Absence of Monsters is the culmination of my own questions on sexuality, recovery, relationships, and love. Over the course of my life I’ve found that being in a relationship with someone will not make you love them. Being in love with someone won’t make a relationship succeed. There is some factor of luck included in the hard work to make that magical combination work in the long term. I’ve been engaged, I think I’ve even been in love, yet, I’m still single. Each time I find that person I think I’m supposed to be with, there is some factor that causes me to walk away. I’ve learned this about myself. On some level, I recognize that I have a deep-seated fear of intimacy, which lends itself to great effect with Ethan. I tell myself, much like he did, that I have no interest in it, yet the reality is that I crave it, even around the edges of the fear. At night, I dream of the man who can fulfill my needs, not only sexually, but emotionally.
My understanding of love is theoretical, at best.
I get a family’s love, though a great deal of my family is of the chosen kind. I get a friend’s love, mostly for the same reason. I love books. I love video games. I love writing. I know that because of the feeling I get when I think about these things. But the idea of relying on someone, sharing a bank account, and a bed every night gives me anxiety like I’ve never known. It’s an interesting dichotomy, one that I’ve explored through Ethan and come up with some interesting conclusions.
So, enjoy Ethan’s journey, and find your own answers.
BLURB: Jayden Carter knew the path he wanted his life to take. He wanted to get his Master’s Degree in History and teach. But, when he answered an ad for a roommate and met mysterious doctor, Ethan Bryant, he’s brought into a world he never knew existed and his path changes.
It changes again for Jayden and he leaves Ethan with their friend, Lexi, in tow. Ethan loses himself in a haze of self-destruction and pain. With the help of a childhood friend, Gabriel, Ethan battles the demons of his childhood and finds a way to survive. Gabriel and Jayden wage an epic war for Ethan, but in the end, they may all end up losing.
Adapted from The Forbidden Room and A House of Cards: Deconstructing Ethan
AUTHOR BIO: Award winning romance novelist, J. P. Barnaby has penned over a dozen books including the Working Boys series, the Little Boy Lost series, In the Absence of Monsters, and Aaron. As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.
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