Absence is as crucial as presence.
The decision to stop dating has made Vaughn Hargrave’s life infinitely simpler: he has friends, an excellent wardrobe, and a job in the industry he loves. That’s all he really needs, especially since sex isn’t his forte anyway and no one else seems interested in a purely romantic connection. But when a piece is stolen from his art gallery and insurance investigator Jonah Sondern shows up, Vaughn finds himself struggling with that decision.
Jonah wants his men like his coffee: hot, intense, and daily. But Vaughn seems to be the one gay guy in Toronto who doesn’t do hookups, which is all Jonah can offer. No way can Jonah give Vaughn what he really wants, not when Jonah barely understands what love is.
When another painting goes missing, tension ramps up both on and off the clock. Vaughn and Jonah find themselves grappling not just with stolen art, but with their own differences. Because a guy who wants nothing but romance and a guy who wants nothing but sex will never work—right? Not unless they find a way to fill in the spaces between them.
So, I loved this book.
Like, really, really loved it.
One of the reasons is fairly obvious: one of the main characters, Vaughn, is ace, and he’s one of the best ace characters I’ve ever read (granted that they aren’t many, but Vaughn was great). The author is ace too if I’m not mistaken, which would explain how Vaughn’s experiences felt so genuine to me. In fact, I think that’s one of the first times where I identified almost completely with an ace character based on said character’s experiences/feelings about their asexuality. It was that good.
I also liked Jonah, but obviously didn’t relate that much to him since he’s Vaughn’s opposite and sleeps around a lot + sees sex as something essential. I still found him an interesting character, though, and like how the author handled his inner conflict.
Another reason I liked Blank Spaces so much is that the relationship between Jonah and Vaughn is awesome. I enjoyed how it developed and how they interacted with each other, and loved how they resolved their issues re: sex. Mixed relationships (ace char + allo char) aren’t rare in the few books with ace main characters out there (in fact, they are the norm) but what is rare is that the allo char accepts that the ace char isn’t okay with sex. Usually the ace char is the one who has to compromise and that’s beyond annoying (and sends a not so nice message to all aces). So I’m glad it worked out differently in Blank Spaces.
The mystery of who robbed the painting was the only weak thread in the book for me. It was fairly obvious who the thief was & the Agatha Christie fan in me is totally against everything being solved by chance. Still, I don’t think this subplot was meant to be important? I mean, it was obviously what brought the main characters together, but to me it didn’t feel like we should care much about who was stealing the paintings. YMMV though.
Last reason I liked this book is simple: the characters. All of them were well developed and even the secondary characters felt fleshed out/real (with the exception of Maurice, who was kind of cartoonish to me). Vaughn was by far my favorite. His love for art was adorable, as was every single of his quirks. He’s so interesting and fresh and relatable it was a pleasure to see the story through his eyes.
So, 5.0 stars for Blank Spaces. I can’t wait to read more from this author.