Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Saying “I love you” doesn’t guarantee peace or a happy ending.
High School Principal “Larx” Larkin was pretty sure he’d hit the jackpot when Deputy Sherriff Aaron George moved in with him, merging their two families as seamlessly as the chaos around them could possibly allow.
But when Larx’s pregnant daughter comes home unexpectedly and two of Larx’s students are put in danger, their tentative beginning comes crashing down around their ears.
Larx thought he was okay with the dangers of Aaron’s job, and Aaron thought he was okay with Larx’s daughter—who is not okay—but when their worst fears are almost realized, it puts their hearts and their lives to the test. Larx and Aaron have never wanted anything as badly as they want a life together. Will they be able to make it work when the world is working hard to keep them apart? (
I fell deeply in love with these character in Bonfire, the first story in this series. Amy Lane made it so easy because, as it’s often the way with her contemporary romances, it’s an ensemble piece. We don’t just have a couple to focus on, but, just as in life, Amy Lane gives us growing and grown children on both sides to deal with, separate households, pets, jobs, and even coming out to mesh and deal with. Life is messy. Amy Lane gets it and writes the hell out of it. Same goes for the complexities of family dynamics, let alone two. Then throw in kids you end of taking in and making a part of a sort of paramecium ever growing family, extending little arms out into a community that needs it so badly.
Talk about a book I wasn’t ready to let go of.
Now comes Crocus. And it’s everything I could have wanted and hoped for. More even.
Our families are back, still adjusting to each other and all the events of Bonfires. As with all families, there’s no downtime, no respite. And the first upset to deal with is a pregnant, and clinically depressed daughter returning to the households. This whole element, from baby daddy (which has some wonderfully humorous and serious elements ala Amy Lane) is folded beautifully into the story, never overwhelming the many other themes here, including the foundation love story of Larx and Aaron, who center and ground each other as well as their expanding family. Boy, are there other serious story threads! Child abuse, PTSD, gang violence, substance living, just to name some of the issues the author deals with here. Yet all work together in one tapestry of a novel, weaving together so many threads that combine to become an incredible story.
There are new dramas and emergencies as you might expect with Larx’s job as Principal and Aaron’s in the Sheriff’s office. New members are slowly melded into the combined Larkin/George family outfit and seamlessly into your heart. Jaime, who I fell in love with immediately, his broken brother Berto, Elton (not the name you will remember him by)…all welcomed and loved, all understood and embraced. Each and everyone not characters but people that stick with you, get under your skin, and remain in your memory of those that you care about and love.
That crocus poking its head up out of the snow, offering up its promise of new life and growth? Of hope? Perfect for this family and story. How I love it and them so.
I read Bonfires but listened to Crocus. Narrator Nick J. Russo did an amazing job with such a huge cast of characters. He switched effortlessly between ages, teenagers to men in the middle ages, genders, and accents even held no issues for him. It felt like a number of people narrating this story instead of one, the flow was so even and the acting so excellent that I lost myself instantly in the story and forgot about everything else. I highly recommend him as a narrator, not just here but in other audiobooks.
If you haven’t already read this series, start with Bonfires and then come to Crocus. This is a beautifully written series, with fully realized characters…a true ensemble cast that’s unforgettable in every way. I loved listening to the audiobook version. It makes me want to experience Bonfires in the same format. And yes I highly recommend them both.
Cover art: Reese Dante. I adore this cover. The artwork combined with the title and imagery within the storyline is shear perfection.
Listening Length: 8 hours and 32 minutes