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Secret Light

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  621 ratings  ·  100 reviews
Rafe Colman likes his life. He has a nice home, a good job, and a wonderful dog. But he's exhausted by living a lie. When his home is vandalized because of his perceived German ancestry, he can't even share the irony with friends.

Officer Ben Morgan falls for Rafe's dog first, but it isn't long before he's giving her owner the eye. He thinks they have more in common than th
ebook, 1st Edition, 258 pages
Published December 20th 2011 by Loose ID
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3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  621 ratings  ·  100 reviews

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Rafe came to the United States at the age of twelve as a refugee after the Nazis invaded his native Austria. He changed his too-German sounding name, made himself a new home in his new country and eventually managed to make a good life for himself through hard work and a winning personality. (His motto is “nobody says no to Rafe Colman.”) But except for his prowess as a Real Estate agent, everything else about his life is a lie. First and foremost, he’s not the womanizer he acts for the benefit ...more
Dec 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
3.75 Stars
Rafe Colman has been getting away with passing off as a man that for the most part does not exist. Who he is, how he feels, where he comes from...Who he loves, it's all a facade.

It's 1955 and Rafe has managed to hide all his secrets since he came from Austria alone at 12 years old escaping the horrors of the war.
He's built a life at the expense of actually having one.

But people's prejudices are always lurking in the shadows and one night Rafe's home is vandalized. Police Officer Ben M
Amy Lane
Dec 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
ZAM wears her beloved So Cal in her writing like sea-scented skin, and the noir-ish, super-conservative setting of this story is played out in detailed perfection. All of it serves to show the terrible loneliness of man who is so isolated by the ebbs and flows of unreasonable hatred that his every breath is drawn in fear. This story was haunting and beautiful and perfect. The holidays-- all holidays--have never been so well served by a simple story of human beings coming together.
Keira Andrews
Understated and lovely holiday romance. Gracefully written, and I really rooted for Rafe to open his heart to Ben. There aren't too many m/m historicals set in the 1950s, and this was a welcome change of pace with unique characters.
Kaje Harper
Apr 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical, m-m, favorites
I really enjoyed this story of Rafe, a man who has lived in America since the Second World War in workable but lonely isolation. He's had financial success but is completely closeted not only about his sexuality but about his history, his religion and everything else personal about himself. His only true friend is his little dog. When the walls around his life are slowly breached by Ben, a police officer who is attracted to him, the result is a lovely flowering of attraction and then of love, in ...more
T.A. Webb
Dec 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Rafe Colman is handsome, slick, personable. He is the top commercial real estate salesman at his agency, perpetually Salesman of the Month. Everybody likes Rafe. But he is a man with secrets. A fraud. And is 1955 Los Angeles, having the kind of past Rafe does can be dangerous. Even more dangerous than being perceived as German, with the hard feelings lingering after WWII.

When his home is vandalized, Officer Ben Morgan investigates what could be a crime motivated by Rafe's Germanic background. Wh
Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: darkdivasreviews
Z.A. Maxfield’s are usually hit or miss with me, but with Secret Light, she totally hit this one out of the park. I absolutely loved this book with its detailed historical insights, which really placed the novel in 1955 Los Angeles for the reader. And the premise of a closeted immigrant, hiding not only his sexuality, but so many other secrets was compelling and at times a heart-breaking read.

Rafe Colman is a successful real estate agent in 1955 Los Angeles, who after being the victim of a hate
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Normally, I do not like to read anything from the 1930's to 1980's. For some reason, I can not get past that mental block. I am glad I did: it was a beautiful love story. The life of being perceived as being a German and being gay in the 1950's was not easy. The war just ending and the whole Hitler and the atrocities committed were horrendous and being gay on top of all that; really, the MC's lived very dangerously: a wrong step could possibly end their life. It was a very good read.
May 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
A highly emotional, at times heart breaking story. Rafe was portrayed so believably. It was hard to reconcile his public persona with the innocently naive, fearful man he truly was. It hurt to read him sometimes. I can't imagine the utter loneliness he lived with for so long. But Ben was so strong, and so there for him. It was just lovely.
Oct 31, 2014 rated it it was ok
Somehow I didn't find any access to this story.

I didn't get any clear impression of both MCs.

Ralf's sad and tragic history was just very angsty and dramatic. And Ben was just too good to be true. But they never felt real to me.

I didn't love the dog story part and the love story felt sappy to me.
Chris, the Dalek King
I recently read a story that tried to do everything that this book tried to do, but failed. The romance, the secrets, the tug-a-war between past and present--between who we are in the light and who we are in the shadows--it just works so well in this story.

Rafe Colman's life is about selling an image. Not only at work, but for himself as well. 1955, ten years after a war that left a continent torn, and Rafe's family dead, Rafe is selling himself as the ideal bachelor. Well-off, charming, sexy, u
Apr 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
The last few ZAM books have been good but they haven’t hit the high notes of previous books for me. Finally Secret Light delivers the addictive and engaging prose by Maxfield I love so much. Here the story flows so easily with wonderful characters that the few flaws and obvious story manipulations are easy to forgive. There’s not such a defined happy ending but it fits with the time period and general story making it easy to see there likely will be a happy ending, even if it’s not spelled out. ...more
Jul 17, 2012 rated it liked it
All in all I enjoyed this book. It was a pleasant read, but I felt it was not a story that should deserve jumping off the shelf.

First, let me get past the things I didn't like. I don't like characters who smoke! I don't even like people who like characters who smoke. In fact, I don't even like mommies and daddies of people who like people who smoke. (Well, maybe that's a bit far.)

I also don't really like campy, trite dialog. This book was full of that. I really tried to understand Rafe/Rolf. I

<**3.5 Stars**

In lieu of writing reviews – I’m taking an extended break – I decided to leave this list showing some of the reasons for the stars I’ve given to the stories I’ve read.

5 Stars – Given to stories that had me falling in love with the characters or stories where I hated the characters but the author had me hooked. For stories that had me so engaged in the plot I couldn’t put the book down and stories that either made me cry buckets and/or laugh until I cried. In short…. these ones
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, m-m
I think if I could give half stars I'd probably give this one 3 1/2 but I liked it well enough to go with 4. It's a sweet story and an unusual one. I think it had an added appeal for me because the main character was not only gay but a Jew who had escaped the Nazis (this should be quite clear from the cover alone) and being Jewish, I found I connected to some aspects of the story in that way.

I think it could have been longer. The build up of the relationship between the two main characters reall
This story is my first story read in 2012. Not sure if it's the right thing to do because it makes me feel slightly subdued.

I feel so sympahetic to Rafe Colman ... the secrets that he has too keep (he's an Austrian, not easy to live after the World War II where people easily think he's German -- and on top of that, he's actually Jewish) and the pain that he has to carry on (seeing what repercussion of being gay in the 1950s can do to a man). He's such a lonely guy, with only his dog to keep him
Trisha Harrington
Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. When I started reading it at first I was a bit skeptical, normally a book like this is not that good. But from the moment I picked it up, I was drawn into the story and fell in love with the characters. Although it has serious topics, I could not help feeling like this book gives hope in a sense. It also shows how good people can actually be.

I loved Rafe and Ben, they were a sweet couple and although this book does not span a long period of time, it was worth reading about the
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-boyfriends
I read about this book from the review website Reviews by Jessewave, and this review pretty much sums up how great this book is:

The setting for this story initially caught my interest - a m/m romance story set in the fifties? I was concerned it wouldn't feel authentic, but great writing transcends time setting, genre...anything. And Maxfield has written a beautiful story about two characters I grew deeply invested in. And this story has the best dog ever -
Kelly L
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I don't know what I was expecting when I started this book but it turned out to be an incredibly wonderful surprise and delight. Need to track down who rec'd this to me but in the meantime THANK YOU!

Very well-written, beautiful flow, I was immediately invested in the characters. It is so well done that you may find yourself double-checking the publishing date as you scratch your head and ask, "So, this was written in the 50's then?" This HAD to be how it felt.

All Los Angeles readers will recog
Linda ~ chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny ~
TW: homophobia and anti-Sementism

After reading The Long Way Home and hating it with the passion of a thousand fiery suns going supernova simultaneously, I was hesitant to pick up another ZAM book. A challenge I'm doing requires a "Second Chance Author" so I picked this book based on a recommendation from a friend.

Verdict: I liked it. It didn't wow me or blow me away. It was a quaint-ish little historical M/M novel, and it had the typical insta-like and "I love you"s in under a month. It didn't
Jan 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Rafe Coleman has it all. Top salesman in a great firm for months running, good looks, the envy of his peers, a wonderful why is his life so hollow? It's because Rafe has been living a lie. It's 1955 and Rafe has a lot to hide. Namely his religion and his sexual preference. No one knows the real Rafe, but the little they do know engenders plenty of bigotry and hatred. Although he is Austrian and not German, and he very carefully hides his religion and his attraction to men, his accent a ...more
Edina Rose
Dec 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes you read a book and it just pushes all your buttons...

I found the story and the characters absolutely amazing. I found the author's lyrical prose exceptionally beautiful.

It's the story of Rafe Colman, a man who went through hell in his youth because of WHO he was. The only reason he is alive now is because he hid his real self. Now he can't shake off the habit of hiding who he is. He lives in fear of being discovered and hides behind a very successful and confident persona. But insid
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Short review because SIN is reviewing it separately in a couple of days.

First book by Maxfield that I've read, although I've heard good things. I was very impressed with the writing, the prose flows well and the sense of time and place - and the inherent dangers of those - are well shown and never ignored.

It's not really my cup of tea all over because it's rather formulaic (but I do understand this is the genre expectations) and the addition of the disgracefully cute dog only garnered an extra p
Deja Black
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book. Wow. This book was touching, loving, and frightening all in one. To see how terrible and fear-lead Rafe was, afraid of himself, afraid of love, afraid of others made me ache inside just reading it. Then to witness Ben's tentative care as he nurtured Rafe and gently tugged him from his cocoon was so sweet and so very endearing. This book was tragic, beautiful and the end was absolutely perfect.

Sometimes you just need to know how life was before now, before the reluctant acceptance of
Shelby P
Dec 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
The only thing that I didn't like about this book was the feeling like the other shoe was going to drop. I hate books that give me that feeling!!!! Other than that, I really enjoyed this book. It was nice to read about this story being in the 1950s. Rafe was so innocent and completely believable. I definitely could understand why he was scared.

Mooki, the dog, was too cute and Ed, the neighbor, very sweet. I can't believe at one point in time you could get arrested for being a homosexual!!! Ben
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: z-2013, mm-read
This was an intriguing story about the secrets people keep. Rafe appears to be a successful salesman and a complete ladies man. The reality is completely different. He is scared and lonely and his only friend is his dog. After someone sets fire to his garage he meets Ben, a policeman who investigates the crime. Ben totally changes Rafe's life and he struggles to adjust and to overcome his fear. There is a lot of pain in this book but also a great deal of hope and love.
Aug 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Really that's how you end the book. I mean it was building and building and I thought something was going to happen and all that happened is.....yeah they're together. I wanted more, I just wanted MORE!!!!
Cassandra Carr
Jun 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
An interesting take on a m/m story, as it's set in 1955. Another good story from this author- I've now read three or four and haven't been disappointed yet.
Feb 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
History sweet, poignant and poetic. It 's hard to think that there are still many prejudices.
Dec 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Beautiful, moving story. I loved Rafe's vulnerability and Ben's strength and patience. Fantastic.
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