Book Reviews

Hard Light by Sierra Riley

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Artists/Actors/Musicians/Authors / Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 06-March-2019

Book Blurb

“They say never meet your heroes. What about falling in love with them? Is that better or worse?”


Tim Richards can’t believe it. He applied to the country’s most prestigious photography workshop and was actually accepted. Bound for Los Angeles, Tim has to leave both his comfort zone and small-town Minnesota, thrilled and terrified in equal measure to be studying under a man he’s idolized for years.


“I should be furious with him. How come I’m not?”


Cohen Carmichael feels like he’s been riding his reputation for too long. He worries he’s a has-been. He worries about his intrusive thoughts. He’s hiding an eating disorder from his friends and growing more isolated by the day. Maybe taking on a protege will be good for him. And if he’s a protege that’s easy on the eyes and eager to please, all the better…


Until his would-be apprentice dumps him in a hot tub fully-clothed. In front of all his donors.


“I’m never going to get a chance like this again.”


When they begin a tentative relationship behind closed doors, both of them worry they’ll be the first to screw it up. Cohen can’t be caught sleeping with a workshop student. Tim doesn’t want to look like he’s trying to sleep his way to fame. But they can’t deny how they feel, even as the constant intrigue and gossip of the LA art world threatens to push them apart.

Book Review

“Its my life to live, my mistakes to make, my lessons to learn...” ~ unknown

Tim Richards, of ‘Hard Light’ by Sierra Riley, has always felt like a round peg in a square hole. He loves his family and his hometown, but he feels stuck there with no real opportunities. His family loves Tim, but they do not understand him, much less his love for photography. They do not see any future in what they consider just a hobby, but it’s all Tim wants to do. When he wins a photography contest, entitling him to go to a photography workshop with a famous photographer as his mentor, it’s like a dream come true. Nothing could have prepared him for what happens when he meets Cohen Carmichael, the instructor.

Cohen loves his job, but has felt a little stilted lately. He does not particularly want to teach a workshop, but he knows it’s good for his business. Also, Cohen needs some fresh perspective and hopes that teaching aspiring photographers will help him gain a fresh sense of purpose. He begrudgingly looks over the contest entries, expecting to see the same old amateur stuff he’s seen before. To Cohen’s surprise, he comes upon a particularly unique portfolio that captures his attention and he decides it’s the winning entry.

Tim likes Cohen from the very start and is impressed with his knowledge and innovative approach to teaching the art of photography. Tim even convinces Cohen to pose in a few of the shots taken on various field trips they take in order to get the photos they need for their portfolios, something Cohen usually does not do. Cohen finds Tim charming and irresistible; even though he knows it’s obviously not a great idea, he starts spending an inordinate amount of time with him. Tim knows that Cohen is bisexual, so he’s not shy about showing Cohen his interest. Cohen has a lot of behavioral health issues that inhibit his interpersonal relationships; the most damaging is his eating disorder, of which he is greatly ashamed. Tim notices it, but doesn’t know how to bring it up. When Cohen’s personal assistant guesses their “secret” she advises Cohen to break up with Tim. When Cohen finally gets the nerve to do so, he comes across as a real jerk. Tim is so stunned, hurt, and angry that he walks out on him.

I’d never given much thought about what went into creating a photographic composition, i.e., colors, shadows, lighting, angles, etc. Needless to say, photography is not one of my best skills. Besides the workshop classes, Tim and Cohen are able to use photography as a way to bond and learn about each other by the types of compositions they create together. The mutual admiration and respect they have for each other lays the groundwork for a more intimate relationship. Thanks, Sierra, for the photography “lessons”, the focus on mental health issues, and the unique, complex, and sexy characters.





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Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 298 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 06-January-2019
Price $3.99 ebook, $12.99 paperback
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