Rating: 5 stars out of 5 ★★★★★
Long term Amy Lane fans may remember how they felt after completing Chase in Shadow—devastated, gutted, and put back together in a better way than they were before that experience. Well, guess what? This one is even more heart-wrenching but it’s also heartwarming and full of hope. And there’s just the right amount of humor to balance out the grief and sadness.
As the story opens, Connor Montgomery has just done the selfie of all selfies—he’s made a one hour video and posted it on YouTube. And thank God, he forgot the sound. His agent/friend/mother-figure, Jillian, rushes to his side to try to restore a semblance of sanity to his life. One year ago, his lover of ten years, his soulmate, Vinnie, was killed in an auto accident, and Connor has been grieving alone in his Malibu home—the one next door to Vinnie’s—for the past year. No one knew they were lovers. Vinnie didn’t want his parents to find out, and after he was killed, Connor upheld his wishes, therefore he’s grieved alone while watching Vinnie’s family come and go next door. Neither young man had left a will so the entire contents of Vinnie’s home—memorabilia from their lives together—now belongs to Vinnie’s family. When Jilly gets to Connor, it’s evident that she too has been missing Vinnie and together the two spend much needed time grieving him together because “grieving alone had left us lost, but grieving together was just easier to do.”
Of course, he was going to melt down. Of course, he would be so wounded he wouldn’t be able to function. And yet, this wonderful, strong, sweet man survives, and when Jilly tells him of an offer from the Wolf’s Landing TV show, Connor sees it as a chance to live again. God knows, it’s about time.
The move turns out to be more than he could have hoped for, if he indeed dared to hope. Noah Dakers enters his life as chauffer, personal assistant, bodyguard, and ultimately lover. Noah has an advanced degree in philosophy but is perfectly happy working on the show in Bluewater Bay to stay close to his family. Noah immediately realizes that Connor needs to be taken in hand and given the support that Connor usually doles out to others. Noah sees behind the façade to the man who needs someone to take care of him, to bring him a measure of peace, and lead him back into the land of the living. Connor’s been walking around in a cloud of grief for so long that he doesn’t even realize he can have a satisfying sex life again. Connor craves Noah’s dominance, thinking “the only reason to put your pleasure in someone else’s hands—if you know they’ll use their hands to stroke that pleasure into ecstasy.”
What Noah doesn’t realize at first is that Connor speaks to Vinnie in his mind. He’s moved past the initial stage of shock and now runs everything past Vinnie, including his attraction to Noah. Never having had the closure of saying good-bye to Vinnie is wreaking havoc on Connor’s emotional state, a havoc which has unseen and potentially deadly consequences.
I loved both of these MCs and the whole host of secondary characters in this story, including Noah’s grandmother, father, and sister, Vivian, and Connor’s staunchest supporter, Jilly. Amy Lane doesn’t just provide a sketch of a character—she nails it with carefully selected words and phrases that paint a picture in the reader’s imagination. Providing us with a visit with some of the other Wolf’s Landing characters like Carter and Levi was simply icing on the cake, but greatly appreciated.
There’s both pathos and humor, and in typical Amy Lane fashion, the humor is often in the obvious details of daily living such as when an actor has his cameraman lying before him taking a shot as the camera looks upward, and the actor has to assure he clipped his nose hairs and blew so that nobody sees his boogers on camera! Gawd, I love this author’s work—some more than others—and this one is right up there among my all-time favorites.
This story brought tears to my eyes but I didn’t sob. It’s simply a beautiful love story—both of the lost love and the new—and the hope it generates wipes out any sad tears and turns them to tears of joy. I highly recommend this to all who love MM romance, especially to those who enjoy recovery from grief and/or hurt-comfort with a little D/s thrown in. It certainly can be read as a standalone, as can all stories in the Bluewater Bay universe, but if you haven’t read any others in this series, by all means start now with Starstruck by L.A. Witt, the first of many wonderful books in this world.
Cover art by L.C. Chase depicts Connor standing on the shore overlooking an island in the sound, an island that figures prominently in the story, thereby making the cover perfect for this book.