Rating: 4.75 stars
Stanley loves his job as floor designer and store manager of Ewe’ll Love This yarn store, he loves his condo and his cats. And at 35, by following his strict regimen of diet, exercise and new hair plugs, he’s looking pretty darn amazing. So why is he feeling sort of hollow? Ever since Craw dumped him for Ben and true love, not even going to the clubs for a quickie is appealing any more. In fact, just watching Craw and Ben together highlights to Stanley just what he wants in his own life but he’s not sure how to get it or if its even possible at his age. So instead of looking for love, Stanley finally decides its time to learn how to knit to fill the void in his life. Then a funny things starts to happen, As his knitting progresses, so does his life start to knit together. He finds a family in the people around him, from Craw, Ben and Ariadne to the store owner and her daughter. And then the new delivery man walks into the store and into Stanley’s life. Johnny is unlike any man Stanley has gone out with. Huge, older with an air of the city and East Coast about him. He likes opera, the theatre and Stanley.
Johnny is just settling into his new life in Boulder and his new job. But he has plenty of secrets and a dark past that only one person in Granby knows about. Just when Johnny and Stanley realizes the depth of their feelings for each other, Johnny’s past arrives in town to threaten them both and everyone around them.
A Knitter in His Natural Habitat is the fourth book in the wonderfully endearing Knitting series and each book just keeps getting better and better. We started off the series with Craw and Ben in The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters (Knitting, # 1). It was cute and as adorable as the critter on the cover. And as much as I loved Craw and Ben, it was the ancillary characters that really captured my attention. In How to Raise An Honest Rabbit, it was Aiden and Jeremy, who took possession of my heart, especially Jeremy, our broken little bunny of a man. They are all back of course as well as some splendid new characters unforgettable in their own right. Especially look out for Jeremy who figures large in this new story but more than that I can’t tell you unless I want to head into spoiler territory.
With this fourth installment, Amy Lane turns her attention to Stanley, someone we meet in the very first book. Stanley was Craw’s bed buddy to use the mildest of terms. To Craw, Stanley meant someone he could count on for casual sex without complications with someone he saw only when he was delivering his yarn to the shop. Unfortunately, Stanley’s feelings were a little more engaged than Craw realized and Stanley was very hurt to find himself dumped not only for a younger man but someone Craw was deeply in love with. One of the marvels of Amy Lane’s characters is that they are so very real in every aspect. Stanley is meant to come across as a superficial, flirty little queen on first impression and he does. But just as quickly we see the loneliness and pain underneath the artifice he has constructed to fool others. Again, the author flips the perspective and we see Stanley and Craw’s “relationship” from Stanley’s POV and what a difference that makes. I love the details the author gives us that adds up to a complete portrait of a man who has reached the age of 35 without having one meaningful relationship and now realizes it. From his tan, his egg-white omelets and this rainbow painted condo, each personal detail is perfection. Layer upon layer piles up until Stanley and her other characters breath, flirt and knit their way across the pages, larger than life.
This of course, includes Johnny who we met briefly in How To Raise An Honest Rabbit. Johnny and Jeremy come from the same dark past and Johnny played a huge part in Jeremy’s survival. And much like a East Coast fish out of water, he is so different from every other character in the story and that makes him perfect for Stanley. I loved his courtly manner towards Stanley. In Stanley’s world, Johnny’s small gestures and gentlemanly behavior is just what is needed to win him over. I immediately got how and why they meshed so quickly. As I have said before, Amy Lane understands relationship dynamics and uses that to create realistic romances for her characters, an aspect of her stories I also love.
But it’s not just the romantic angle of Amy Lane’s stories I look forward to, it’s the family of characters she creates and brings together that enriches her stories and embed themselves into our hearts and memories. Here it is the group of people that gather around Ariadne in her hospital room as she awaits the birth of her first child. The doctor has put her on extended bed rest due to complications with her pregnancy and you fear for her and the unborn child’s safety even as person after person comes to knit, gossip, and tend to her emotional wellbeing. I wanted to climb into their midst and settle in with my knitting as well. There’s Stanley working the stitches on his first scarf, and Alice who bonded instantly with Ariadne, and of course, Jeremy and Aiden whose sex life speculation enliven each knitting session. It’s the author’s ability to make them all so real that when she causes them pain, we feel the impact as intensely as the characters.
I know that Amy Lane considers some of her stories light and others dark in nature but I just don’t see that. Even her “lighter” efforts have dark threads running through them, and such a thing is necessary if her characters are to be truly human. One of the aspects of the Knitting series is that each person has a “true color” that represents them. Jeremy sees Aiden’s true color, not as Sunny Sky Blue as Craw sees him but the blue of a sky streaked with the dark shades of purple and black This is the darkest, most angst filled of the series so far. In fact, at one point, I felt that I could have smacked the author silly with a hank of heavy worsted because of the pain she caused one beloved character.Deep breath. And that is also the reason that it didn’t get 5 stars. I needed the ending to be more complete, the characters more settled after the traumatic events towards the end of the story. This series isn’t over yet so I feel that is coming, which is great. Because as much as I have come to love these people, I need it to see them happy. I trust Amy Lane to deliver that too.
So don’t dawdle, run, jump and skip over to the next eBook store and pick this one and all the rest up. You will love them as much as I do.
Cover: Catt Ford’s covers for this series continue to delight and enduce smiles. How can you not love this cover?
Note: Along with great covers, I love the titles of each chapter. Here is chapter two “Sometimes a Perfectly Placid Knitter Will Startle”. Love this series for so many reasons.
Here are the books in the series in the order they were written and should be read:
The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters (Knitting #1) read my review here.
Super Sock Man (Knitting #2)
How To Raise An Honest Rabbit (Knitting #3) – review here.
Knitter in His Natural Habitat (Knitting #4)