Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Just when Aiden Rhodes is sure that he has his Jeremy Bunny ready to settle down and commit to a relationship with him instead of always being ready to “rabbit’ away, Jeremy’s past arrives to shatter everything. After Jeremy endured a horrific near death beating by a mobster, he faces multiple surgeries on his way to recovery, a recovery that will still leave Jeremy with physical scarring he will carry for life.
All in the tightly close group of people around Jeremy have been affected by this horrendous event. Aiden is facing his own anger at Jeremy’s actions and he needs time to work through all the thoughts and emotions that this brutal beating has created. Aiden needs space but with Jeremy in the hospital and needing Aiden, that is the last thing he is likely to have. Jeremy is afraid that his scarred face and body will mean that he is unlovable and unwanted. Craw and Ben are keeping the mill going without their friends but only just. And Ariadne lies in the hospital bed next to Jeremy with complications to her pregnancy and worries of her own. Even as everyone is giving as much of themselves to help support Jeremy’s surgeries and recovery, they are in need in equal amounts of support themselves.
But the answer for this overly stressed and worn thin group comes in the tiny form of Ariadne’s baby girl who needs them all in her own time of need. To help Ariadne and her baby, Jeremy pulls himself together and starts to move forward in his relationship with Aiden and his friendship for everyone around him, including Ariadne’s little blackbird. And Aiden sees a Jeremy he had always hoped to find….a man who has stopped running from love and commitment and is ready for all Aiden has to offer….a future together.
I am going to start this review with a personal note to Amy Lane.
Amy Lane, Amy Lane……I have been waiting for you to fix Jeremy Bunny since you left me (and Jeremy) wrecked at the end of Knitter in His Natural Habitat (Knitting #4) two years ago. When I finished that story I felt I had been run through Craw’s temperamental woolen mill drums myself until my heart was flattened and my stomach was in knots. I love your stories and this series but that was one review I didn’t want to write because I was so upset at the end. But now I can finally say, without compunction, that you did Jeremy Bunny right in Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair. And you made the torturous events that occurred in the fourth book feel as though they had to happen for the growth and maturity that Jeremy gains here throughout your story. I didn’t think that was possible but it did and it felt true. So, thanks. Now I can reread that book again with my tredpidation pushed aside and my love for these characters up front and secure in their futures together. Brava!
Now back to the originally scheduled review.
When discussing a book about endings, I think its appropriate that a summary of the series and the first story is in order. The first book in the series is called The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters (Granby Knitting, # 1) and truthfully it wasn’t even a series yet. It was a story in Dreamspinner’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas collection. It featured a romance between a burly monosyllabic knitter and a newly arrived self employed young man who moves in next to his alpaca ranch. Rance Crawford ” is an alpaca rancher, fiber mill owner, and self-proclaimed grumpy bastard” in Amy Lane’s words. And he was grumpy perfection. Lane paired him up with Ben McCutcheon, a sweet Easterner who inherits the house next to the ranch. It was a slow, sometime frustrating and always amusing light hearted romance filled with the author’s love of all things knitting and love of yarn. It had an endearing cover and a wonderful ending.
That first story was quick to capture the hearts of readers along with all the other memorable characters that Amy Lane created to work at Craw’s mill and yarn shop, helping to dye and create designer yarn that people would scramble to own and knit with. We met a young Aiden Rhodes, a teenager on the way to adulthood and a genius with dyes and wool. Living in the barn in a small room was Jeremy Stillson, an enigmatic skittish young man of indeterminable years. Oddly young and old at the same time, Jeremy was clearly haunted by a past and childhood that only one person knew about. He talked too much, loved the company of the animals and was as skittish as a wild bunny, ready to “rabbit” away at the first sign of approaching danger or even commitment. His vulnerability touched the readers, myself included, deeply. We took Jeremy Bunny to heart then and never let him go. Neither did Aiden Rhodes, a wolf with surprising darkness inside and a love for his Jeremy. Just as important was Ariadne, the sharp faced, thin young woman who runs the mill’s shop and teaches Jeremy to knit. We all fell in love with Ariadne too. Leaving this group of people behind in that first story was hard not only for us but for Amy Lane as well. And so the Knitting series, also known as the Granby Knitting series was born.
Four books followed, the full list is posted at the bottom of the review. Lane would take up Aiden and Jeremy’s story in How to Raise an Honest Rabbit (Knitting #3). Between those indescribably adorable covers and their marvelously quirky titles, this was a series that was attracting attention for more than just the stories within, there was also the knitting patterns featured in each book, with instructions included at the end. How I love those too! Did I say I was a avid knitter? This series just reached out and pulled me in. Any idea of maintaing any sort of emotional distance was thrown out the window from the get go. Objectivity, thy name is some other reviewer when this series is involved.
Anyhow, How to Raise an Honest Rabbit (Knitting #3) is Jeremy’s story. We find out why Jeremy is the way he is and how he came to Granby and Craw’s Alpaca ranch. It is also the beginning of romance between Jeremy and Aiden, hints of which were only floating around the narrative in the first book. And it is here that the darkness and depth found in the Knitting series is revealed. Yes, there are still some amusing scenes and joy. But the pain of the past and Jeremy’s fragile emotional center is revealed as is the explanation behind his situation and behavior. The angsts and gravity of the story brings a “realness” to these characters, with all their flaws, intelligence and loyalty to each other. If you weren’t in love before, you were by the end of this story.
Then came Knitter in His Natural Habitat (Granby Knitting, #4) and the revelatory style and genius of Amy Lane came together in an emotional rollercoaster of a story. I loved it, hated it, and cried buckets of tears before it was over. It was two romances in one. Lane continued to follow the growth in Aiden and Jeremy’s relationship while also introducing another major romance that included secondary characters from previous stories. That would be flamboyantly gay Stanley, who managed a fabulous craft store in Boulder and Johnny, a dark horse of a delivery man with secrets of his own. Like some intricately woven specialty yarn, Lane spun a tale of revenge, love and a past that refused to stay hidden. It was mesmerizing and Lane skillfully built up a atmosphere of danger and suspense that exploded in an emotional ending that left us all shattered.
This story was released two years ago in 2012 and my memories of it today are as fresh as if I had just finished the story yesterday. That fact just demonstrates what an incredible writer Amy Lane is and the power present in all her stories. Light and fluffy? I don’t think so. I don’t think she can do that. Lane’s stories always take twists and turns that will puzzle and shock you. They might leave you reeling in pain from the events and situations her characters find themselves in as well as the loss that can run like a river of angst through her stories. But never will you be able to remain objective because she has breathed life, in all its complexity, into her people and you start treating them and their stories as if they were your own.
Anyway, back to Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair (Knitting #5). I have waited 2 long years for this story and it was beyond marvelous. The title, in part, comes from that haunting Beatles song “Blackbird” that goes “Blackbird singing in the dead of night. Take these broken wings and learn to fly…” Are you humming it yet? There is more than one blackbird here in this story and yet by the end, they have all learned to fly or will be able to do so. So many people are in all types of need here. Emotional, financial, you name it and this tight circle of friends requires it. But how Amy Lane resolves each and everyone’s situation is believable, warmhearted and totally satisfying. I finished it at 3am and promptly went and started it all over again. I mean, really, people, I had waited two years for this to happen. It wasn’t going to be over that quickly.
This review could have been finished in a few concise sentences. It would go something like this. Here is my cliff notes version:
I wanted this. I read this. I love this. I whole heartedly recommend it to all who need romance, great story telling, and knitters in love in their lives. There are bunnies galore, and mittens and knitting patterns. And characters you will never forget. Amy Lane does it again.”
But what fun is that?
Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair is a book I will return to often. The resolution to Jeremy’s story and his and Aiden love affair has staying power. So do all the other romances found within this series. These people, these characters have become old friends and I will want to revisit them from time to time. If you are new to this series, start with the first story and work your way through the novels and the gamut of emotions Amy Lane will put you through. It is worth it. Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair is one of ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords Best of 2014. And don’t miss out on that terrific Chain Mail Scarf pattern so important to the story and whose instructions are included at the end. I am already planning what yarn to use.
Cover art by Catt Ford who created all those incredible covers in the series. I have included all of them as well.
Books in the series in the order they were written and should be read:
The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters (Granby Knitting, # 1)
Super Sock Man
How to Raise an Honest Rabbit (Granby Knitting, #3)
Knitter in His Natural Habitat (Granby Knitting, #4)
Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair (Granby Knitting #5)
Also available The Granby Knitting Menagerie by Amy Lane Paperback: Buy it here at DSP
ebook, 244 pages, A Granby Knitting Novel
Published May 2nd 2014 by Dreamspinner Press (first published May 1st 2014)
ISBN 1627988742 (ISBN13: 9781627988742)
Covers to love in reverse order: