A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Familiar Demon (Familiar Love #2) by Amy Lane

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

I would love to have rated this story higher, but it was so complex, so detailed, and included flashbacks that encompassed hundreds of years and was interwoven with the first story, I got lost and found and lost again. It may have been me, but it wasn’t as fast-paced, interesting, and engrossing as book one and definitely did not hold my attention.

Hundreds of years ago, Mullins was lured into Hell in an effort to protect his sister from witch hunters who would have seen the little girl’s visions of “the nice red man” as nothing more than witchcraft. In Hell, he made friends with Leonard Youngblood, who we met in the previous book. Leonard was pulled from Hell by the woman he loves, when at that time, she also distributed her magic among three young boys who then became cat familiars. The first story was of Harry, one of the boys who fell in love with the angel, Suriel. They managed to eventually get Suriel mortal. Now, in a similar effort, they are trying to get their friend and protector, Mullins, from his eternal life in Hell. To do that, they embark on a quest to find items on a list that will form a strong spell able to break him out. The journey is fraught with danger, not only from encounters along the way, but also danger from Mullins’s boss in Hell. Because Mullins hasn’t been following the rules for demons in Hell and it’s starting to be noticed. 

Many times, over the course of the last eight years of reading Amy Lane’s work, I’ve paused to wonder how anyone’s mind can possibly create such diverse stories. The world of the Goddess, the Johnnies, Talker, the Fish series, and more cement my love for her work. The fact her stories are so well-written and make me feel a part of the action, and I have no worries about stumbling over inconsistencies or misspelled words is a complete bonus. This particular story is a prime example of her creative imagination, but I faltered in following it. Possibly that’s due to some of my own life complexities right now, so I hate to leave a poor review. I can only say that Mullins was a very sympathetic character and Edward the perfect mate for him. The brothers, especially Bel and Francis were supportive, at times funny, and at other times extremely sympathetic. I suspect the story for Bel and Francis will be quite different, extremely interesting, and not too far in the distant future. I’m looking forward to that one, for sure.

The cover for this story, by Reese Dante, is bright, colorful and the perfect image of Mullins in human form.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: February 12th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB07KQ65WXG
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesFamiliar Love #2

Melanie M Thoughts On Labeling – Isn’t It Time to Put Away GFY?

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Melanie M Thoughts On Labeling – Isn’t It Time to Put Away GFY?

Funny isn’t it when all lines of thought lead to a convergence of minds?  That seems to have happened this past week or two.  But I’ve been thinking of it for some time.  And it seems to come down to this.

Labels.

A simple word that applies to so many people that can be so very hurtful when used or misused, intentionally, unintentionally,  or just because thats a pattern that everyone has fallen into over time.  The M/M romance community has been very vocal of late about one author’s latest release and whether its a GFY or bisexual or what have you. More on that later.  But that’s not a new argument, trust me. She is but the latest target which is unfortunate and undeserved.

We should be  long past such  discussions.  I had sort of hoped that we were.

When LGBT enlarged to embrace more of the sexual spectrum to become LGBTQIA, I was encouraged.  It made me hopeful that I would see a change in outlook on people and in our ability to become more open in our perspectives on not only romance but relationships, people, in every aspect would follow.  And to a degree, that’s happened.

But only to a degree as these past weeks have born witness.

Labels and peoples unwillingness to see beyond certain rigid character/sexual definitions still continue to amaze me.  Do you know I still read/hear people say?  That bisexuality is still a stop over on the road to gaytown.  As though it has no legitimacy, no validity of its own.  Its as though people cannot imagine being attracted to both sexes so obviously they are in denial and therefore, not bisexual at all.  And yes, from the discussions held from friends and strangers on the subject, that amount of dismissal and outright contempt that attitude shows hurts.

There’s another issue here.  That’s the GFY label.  That’s the one that holds so many awful connotations, ones I don’t think people have thought about.  We are long overdue to put that label aside for good.

GFY.  Gay For You. How cutsey.  How not.  What?  Someone can wave a magic wand and make that person gay?  Just for them?  People?  Have you not heard enough rightwingers or conservative religious believers spout that at you already?  Why on earth would you want to perpetuate that as a label?  No, you can’t make someone gay for you.  Look at the science.  We know enough about the sexual spectrum.  We are past this. Long, rainbow colored, unicorn, flag waving, past this.

People are pansexual, bisexual, asexual, asexual romantic, omnisexual, lesbian, gay, every wonderful sexual or non-sexual out there. But they aren’t fucking gay for you! Now having said that, it doesn’t mean that LGBTQIA and non fiction isn’t having an impact in the world, even, sigh, the so-called GFY labeled novels.  Here is part of a wonderful FB post from TJ Klune about the current GFY dustup and a email he received:

So, here’s the thing.

I see drama crap in this genre again, people saying what an author can or cannot write about, if GFY is an acceptable trope or if it’s erasure.

Here’s some perspective to make you think if we’re truly arguing about something petty, or if there is something bigger we could (and should) be focusing on.

Part of an email I received from a reader:

“I live in the most homophobic place on earth where you get stoned to death if you’re discovered as a homosexual. I am from Iraq.

You made me laugh and cry, fall in love, be heart broken and be angry and make stupid mistakes with them. your books are my haven from a prejudiced, blood thirsty reality. you made me believe that there’s beauty in who we are. Paul and Sandy’s friendship? Bear and Creed’s? God, what wouldn’t I do to have that. Paul’s family, his parents, his Nana and even johnny Depp. They’re hope shining and bright and something I wish my family was, something I wish I would be in hopefully a long time.

This has become too long and you may never read it. But, I had to tell you that reading your books is a necessity for me, a drug that keeps me sane when I’m pushed to my breaking point for simple silly things like not wearing a head scarf or wearing makeup. You showed me love in all it’s capacity, in all it’s craziness. I know I may never find something like that but at least I’ll feel it through your characters, through you and your power I won’t say ability no it’s your power to channel emotions.”

 

 

That’s heartbreaking and very powerful stuff.  It made me cry and made me more determined to get this out in the right way. Enough to give you pause, right?

And from another literary corner, author Amy Lane, with many terrific thoughts too on the subject, chiming in here from her blog: http://writerslane.blogspot.com/2016/03/your-drug-of-trope.html?m=1&zx=aab514f9a1daa573.  She talks a little about the history, science and authors viewpoint.  It works but perhaps again doesn’t take in enough of the impact.

Yes, GFY is a literary trope, one that has a history behind it, one that authors themselves may not even use.  But if the ones that write the reviews use it, if the ones that read the reviews use it, then it still continues to have power. Power it shouldn’t have.

Maybe I’m not looking at the wider view yet.  Does this label have an impact on those who are fighting for their lives in third world countries because of who they love?  No, it doesn’t.   Maybe.  But its a perception of love that has a power that carries through populations that might surprise you for such a tiny label that I’m fighting for here.

GFY.   Gay For You.

On the back of that  small three letter label stands centers that think they can change a person’s sexuality, people that think being gay is a disease that can be cured, politicians with banners of hate and a sexuality that’s like magic that can come and go with the wave of a magic wand.

Too strong?  Maybe.

Or maybe not.

So if its not the writers, maybe it time for us  reviewers and readers to ditch the GFY, from our reviews, vocabularies, our tagging, and our minds. Let’s take the first step together.  Really its not as big a step as you think.

On our next reviews, instead of GFY, how about pansexual if it applies, omnisexual, bisexual or, even asexual romantic or somewhere along the sexual spectrum wherever that character may stand.  There is a host of applicable terms…lets use them.  Let’s talk to the author, open up a discussion on sexuality.  This could be an amazing opportunity.  Let’s not lose it to get lost in negativity but use to to move forward once more.

How do you all feel about this?  I want to know.  Are you ready to give up your old labels and move forward?  Let’s put GFY behind us and move forward towards the diversity that LGBTQIA stands for in everyway.

 

 

 

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Best of 2015

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best-of-2015-small-banner2

 From Books, Audiobooks to Book Covers

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Best of 2015

Happy New Year! Looking back over 2015 I’m  amazed at all the changes here and marvelous tales that came to our door. I’m thinking about the new reviewers we’ve added,  all the wonderful books we’ve read, new authors we’ve discovered, and the way Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words has grown in this past year.  Along with new reviewers, came new columns like Paul’s Paranormal Portfolio (his New Year’s edition is posted today), our Author Discovery along with all our author interviews and guest posts.

As the market for audiobooks has increased so has our reviews.  Even a audiobook virgin like myself jumped into the format and found that I enjoyed it immensely. What a surprise…for me!

I hope 2016 brings a new look to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words, a few new reviewers to help us read more, listen to, review more about the thing we love…books! I hope we find more new authors to discover, and more ways in which to write about them and the writing process.

But before we move forward, we’re going to look back at the books and covers we loved best.  So here are some of our favorites. Free Dreamer is traveling, and Paul was working on his Paranormal Portfolio but some of the rest of us had our lists ready. Are some of yours among them?  Which ones do you think we left out?  And are there new discoveries among those we love so much? Check out our Best Books and Covers of 2015 below…

 

 

From BJ:

✪Favorite Books Read in 2015:

Captive Prince One and Two by C.S. Pascat
The entire Straight Boys series by Alessandra Hazard
The entire Guardians of the Pattern series by Jaye McKenna
For Real by Alexis Hall
Control by Cordelia Kingsbridge
Give an Inch by K.D. Sarge (because it was so cute AND it was written from my prompt)

✪ Best Audiobook of 2015:

Into Deep Waters by Kaje Harper, Narrated by Kaleo Griffith

✪Favorite Covers of 2015

Ghost in the Mythe coverFor Real coverSong of the NavigatorBurn The Sky cover

Ghost in the Mythe by Jaye McKenna, artist Chinchbug
For Real by Alexis Hall
Song of the Navigator by Astrid Amara
Burn the Sky by Jaye McKenna, artist Chinchbug
Leythe Blade by Jaye McKenna, artist Chinchbug
Something Like A Love Song by Becca Burton
In Discretion (Ylendrian Empire, #3) by Reesa Herberth
Neskaya (Bittersweet Dreams) by Augusta Li

Leythe BladeSomething Like A Love SongInDiscretion_500x750Neskaya

I really admire original covers that are drawn or created specifically to represent that book so much more than those that just use stock photography…so here are some I love.

 

 

From Stella:

 

✪BEST BOOKS

Beneath the Stain by Amy Lane
Sacrati by Kate Sherwood
✪BEST COVERS
Sand and Gold and RuinThe Fifth Son coverCabin NightsACID coverStormBeforeTheCalm[The]FS
Sand and Ruin and Gold by Alexis Hall
The Fifth Son by Blaine D Arden
Cabin Nights by Ashley John
ACID by Wulf Francu Godgluck and S. van Rooyen
The Storm before the Calm by Cate Ashwood
✪BEST AUTHOR DISCOVERIES
Family of Lies Sebastian by Sam Argent
Go On Your Own Way by Zane Riley
The Rules of Ever After by Killian B Brewer
The Union of Sun and Moon by Gus Li
The Last Yeti by Tully Vincent
In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish

                                                                                        From Ali

✪ Best books:  These are my top 5 plus

The Subs Club by JA Rock
Darker Space by Lisa Henry
Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson
Kick at the Darkness by Keira Andrews
Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell
Lonely Hearts by Heidi Cullinan
Crash & Burn by Abigail Roux
A Seditious Affair by KJ Charles

  ✪Best Short Stories:

Fawn by Nash Summers  **this was probably my favorite thing I read this year in this genre
One Perfect Night by Lisa Henry
Lima Oscar Victor Echo & the Truth About Everything by Suki Fleet
Ten Simple Steps for Surviving the Apocalypse by Cari Z
Waiting for Clark by Annabeth Albert

 ✪ Best Covers:

 Sutphin Boulevard coverIn the Middle of Somewhere coverFawn coverStygian
Stygian by Santino Hassell
Fawn by Nash Summers
Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell
Level Hands by Amy Jo Cousins
Level Hands
In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish

From Mika

✪My Favorite Books of 2015

. Sunset Park by Santino Hassell & How To Be A Normal Person by T.J. Klune. They are tied for me. I loved these books. (

Rest in any order
Conscious Decisions of the Heart by John Wiltshire
Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan
Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson
Breakaway by Avon Gale
Fish Stick Fridays by Rhys Ford
Kick at the Darkness by Keira Andrews
Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Definitely Maybe, Yours by Lissa Reed
The Subs Club by J.A. Rock
Restless Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk
Down & Dirty by Rhys Ford

✪Best Covers:

Conscious Decisions of the Heart civCarry the OceanTrust the Focus

Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan
Conscious Decisions of the Heart by John Wiltshire
Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson

From Sammy:

✪Best Books of 2015:

– Unwrapping Hank by Eli Easton
– Dirty Dining by E.M. Lynley
– The Wrong Man & The Right Time by Lane Hayes
– The Shearing Gun by Renae Kaye
– Slasherazzi by Daniel A. Kaine
– Where There’s Smoke & Where There’s Fire by Cari Z
– The World in His Eyes by A.J. Thomas
– The Ultimate Team by Tricia Owens
– The Biggest Scoop by Gillian St. Kevern (A YA pick!)
And an upcoming release in 2016 that I had the pleasure of beta reading:
– Thorns & Fangs by Gillian St. Kevern

From Melanie

For me there  were so many. You really had to look no further than our best book of the month to see that.  Its especially hard in a year where favorite  series came to a finish.  Those were so tough on the heart.  But so were so many others. I laughed with these characters and boy, did I cry.  Sometimes, I did both at the same time.  Looking at you Renae Kaye and John Inman!
Alex Beecroft and Alexis Hall almost deserve their own section.  Beecroft’s Trowchester Blues was a trilogy so marvelous it was illuminating.  And Alexis Hall?  His words flow with a lyricism and magic  that make reading his stories a privilege.
John Wiltshire’s excellent series More Heat Than The Sun starts off with one of my favorite books of 2015, Conscious Decisions of the Heart (also Best Cover).  Heidi Cullinan’s Minnesota Christmas trilogy which ends with my favorite story of them all, Eden Winter’s Diversion series (be still my heart) got a new installment that I’ve read several times, see?  I can  go on and on.  And I haven’t even talked about Astrid Amara who is on several of the other reviewers lists!

✪Best Books

The Shearing Gun by Renae Kaye
Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall
Sand and Ruin and Gold by Alexis Hall
Conscious Decisions of the Heart by John Wiltshire
Holding Out for a Fairy Tale (Least Likely Partnership #2) by A.J. Thomas
My Magical Palace by Kunal Mukherjee
Blue Eyed Stranger (Trowchester Blues #2) by Alex Beecroft
Trowchester Blues (Trowchester Blues, #1) by Alex Beecroft
Blue Steel Chain (Trowchester Blues, #3) by Alex Beecroft
Blowing Off Steam by Joy Lynn Fielding
Redemption (Diversion #5) by Eden Winters
Tigers on the Run (Tigers and Devils #3) by Sean Kennedy
A Solitary Man by Shira Anthony and Aisling Mancy
Where the Grass is Greener (Seeds of Tyrone #2) by Debbie McGowan and Raine O’Tierney
Winter Wonderland (Minnesota Christmas #3) by Heidi Cullinan *loved them all
******************************
(Humor & Pathos Division)
Shawn’s Law by Renae Kaye
Coming Back by John Inman
You Are The Reason by Renae Kaye
 ***********************
Four of Club series by Parker Williams (Pulp Friction 2015)
Jack of Spades series by Lee Brazil
King of Hearts series by Havan Fellows
******************************

Best Audiobook

Best Covers:

Theory Unproven 400x600Blowing Off Steam coverConscious Decisions of the Heart civWaiting for the Flood cover

 

 

 

 

 

Theory Unproven by Lillian Francis, artist Meredith Russell
Conscious Decisions of the Heart by John Wiltshire
Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall, artist Simone
Blowing Off Steam by Joy Lynn Fielding

 

Sand and Gold and RuinSnowman coverForging the future coverRunning with the Wind cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shawn's Law coverChasing the Swallows coverSomething Like A Love SongFirst Comes Marriage

 

 

 

 

 

Shawn’s Law by Renae Kay, Paul Richmond artist
Something Like A Love Song by Becca Burton, unknown artist
Chasing the Swallows by John Inman, artist Maria Fanning
First Comes Marriage by Shira Anthony, artist Paul Richmond

The Sub Club by J.A. Rock, artist Kanaxa
My Magical Palace by Kunal Mukherjee, artist unknown
Winter Oranges by Marie Sexton, artist L.C. Chase
Trowchester Blues trilogy by Alex Beecroft, artist Lou Harper
Trowchester Blues cover

 

 

TheSubsClub_600x900Winter Oranges coverMy Magical Palace

In The Spotlight: An Interview with Amy Lane on The Granby Knitting Series (Giveaway)

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 The Granby Knitting SeriesGranbyKnittingMenagerie[The]LG

by Amy Lane

 

 

 

 

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The Winter Courtship of Fur Bearing CrittersHow to Raise An Honest Rabbit coverKnitter in His Natural HabitatBlackbird Knitting in a Bunny's Lair cover

 

 

 

 

 

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One of my favorite series just got a long awaited update with the release of Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair by Amy Lane.  It’s a story I waited to read for over 2 years.  And I loved it.  To celebrate its release and the new printed series collection, Granby Knitting Menagerie by Amy Lane and Dreamspinner Press, I invited Amy to stop by for an interview about the series, its characters, and perhaps, even its future.

Contest:  To celebrate the release of Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair and the Granby Knitting Printed Collection, we have 2 prizes to giveaway to some lucky commentators.  From Amy Lane…an e-book copy of Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair, OR a random skein of yarn from Amy’s stash!  I can hear you knitters salivating already! And from me a paperback copy of The Granby Knitter’s Menagerie.   

You must be over the age of 18 to enter and from the continental US or  Canada.  Make sure you leave your email address in the comment where you can be reached should you be chosen.  Contest ends 6/26 at midnight.

Introduction to the Granby cast of characters (via DSP series blurb):

Welcome to Granby, Colorado, a small town at the foot of the Rocky Mountains where it snows eight months out of the year and knitting is a mashup of art form, necessity, and religion. Here you will meet:

* Rance “Craw” Crawford, owner of the local alpaca farm and fiber mill, who courts tenderfoot Ben McCutcheon with awkwardness and the most lovingly handcrafted knitted garments known to man.

* Jeremy Stillson (also known as Jeremy Bunny), ex-con and ex-grifter, who comes to work for Craw and learns the secrets to being honest are in both the yarn he learns to use and in Aiden Rhodes, his young co-worker, who has a very direct way of dealing with life and seducing Jeremy.

* Stanley Schulz, yarn buyer and Craw’s ex-lover, who discovers the joys of knitting alone—and then discovers the joys of knitting for Johnny, a delivery driver with a shady past. Join this menagerie of knitters as they craft to keep their toes toasty and their hearts warm.

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You’ve met the people, now meet their creator, Amy Lane!

Now on to our interview with Amy Lane….

STRW:  Does the Granby Mill really exist? Why Colorado?

Amy Lane: About five years ago (okay, *exactly* five years ago) Mate and I went on a 20th anniversary vacation to Colorado. Why Colorado? Because our timeshare went there. There is NO other reason– I kid you not. While I was there, of COURSE I went looking for yarn– and it turned out that there, at the end of what looked like a long country road (but what started out as a little suburban road) was an alpaca and sheep farm/mill. They had a little shop (I took no pictures!) but the yarn was… lovely. I haven’t knit any of it up– not even five years later–because I can’t stand the thought of not making something lovely enough to do it justice. Here is the blogpost I wrote back then– and I did manage to get some pictures of the alpacas 🙂 http://writerslane.blogspot.com/2009/…

STRW: How did a series/story about wool, knitting and such a diverse group of characters come about? What was your inspiration for this series?

Amy Lane:  As for the characters? Well, Rance came from Granby itself. The people there were nice– friendly, kind– but not exactly chatty. Granby really *is* in a bowl valley. There is a sense of isolation there– of intense community. It was lovely, but we obviously did not fit in. So that made me wonder… what would Rance Crawford do with a tenderfoot? Well, mostly worship him from afar, actually!

STRW: I love the patterns you incorporate into your stories. How do you choose which ones to use. Pattern or storyline? Which comes first?

Amy Lane:  I actually write the story first, and then decide which of the projects the characters talk about can make something simple enough and interesting enough to work! With Jeremy, the half-mittens are some of my all-time favorite projects. So easy, and so useful. Every writer I know wants a pair!

STRW:  Jeremy Bunny. He’s my favorite. Why was what happened to him so necessary? How did such a wounded, beautiful man happen and become such an important part of this series?

Amy Lane: Jeremy Bunny… wow. See, I wrote two sentences about him in the first story– I said he was an ex-con that Craw found panhandling on the streets of Boulder, and that he wanted to go straight. And I implied sort of a chemistry between him and Aiden. The rest of it… I had to make an ex-con/ex-conman who was redeemable. Oddly enough, working with kids sort of gave me the way to do this. I worked with a number of young people who HAD been arrested–and the thing that caught me most often about these kids was the things they didn’t know about life. Some of them were so VERY innocent about the things we take for granted– things like food, or clothes that fit, or how people could be kind with no underlying motive. It sounds cliched–but very often, they just didn’t know. It’s this core of innocence in the center of all these really questionable “life skills” that drove Jeremy for me. LIke Aiden said, emotionally, he was the same age as Aiden– just coming into adulthood. But in the meantime, he’d accrued a sort of horrific karmic backlog. It was nice and all that he’d reformed–but that part of his life cut a swath through innocent people. That’s why, for me, it was so important that he protect Stanley. Stanley was innocent, and Jeremy had some dirt on his hands. That fact that he would do this gives us the last puzzle piece of redemption. He’d more than earned it.

STRW: I loved that Angora rabbits and alpacas are represented along with sheep in the creation of yarns. As a knitter I gobbled up these stories as well as a lover of romance. What’s your favorite yarn to knit with?

Amy Lane: I’m a sucker for basic wool with a touch of luxury fiber in it– and I am a color way *slut*! The color way truly depends on what mood I am in that day– or eve THAT HOUR that day. All the pretty colors– I want to knit them all.

STRW:   Is the series truly over?

Amy Lane:  No! I have a plan for Eli and the Naked Alpaca Hats Band 🙂

STRW:  *still cheering over the news*  Do you have a favorite character in this series and why?

Amy Lane:   LOL– I’m a bad mommy, because I think I just sort of outed my favorite character by writing him a whole other book. Jeremy–hands down, he’s my favorite. I know a couple of people got upset that he was so much older than Aiden, but I know, by the end of the story, most of them realized that Aiden was the dominant one, the protector, and the old soul in that relationship. I loved that– loved that reversal, and loved Jeremy’s tentative sweetness. Yes. He’s my favorite, but Aiden was a close second. But it’s a hard fight– grumpy Craw, flamboyant Stanley, gentle Ben, suave Johnny– I really did love them all.

And it’s been my pleasure to answer the questions– thanks for asking them 🙂

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)

Book Details:
Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press      Amazon

GranbyKnittingMenagerie[The]LGThe Granby Knitting Menagerie by Amy Lane Paperback: Buy links above.

ebook, 244 pages, A Granby Knitting Novel

Published May 2nd 2014 by Dreamspinner Press (first published May 1st 2014)
ISBN 1627988742 (ISBN13: 9781627988742)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com
seriesKnitting #5

(Catt Ford, I love your covers.)  Here is another to drool over…..

Author Bio:

Amy Lane dodges an EDJ, mothers four children, and writes the occasional book. She, her brood, and her beloved mate, Mack, live in a crumbling mortgage in Citrus Heights, California, which is riddled with spiders, cats, and more than its share of fancy and weirdness. Feel free to visit her at http://www.greenshill.com or http://www.writerslane.blogspot.com, where she will ride the buzz of receiving your e-mail until her head swells and she can no longer leave the house.

You can follow Amy Lane via:

Website
Twitter
Blog
Goodreads Author Page

 

 

Review: Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair (Knitting #5) by Amy Lane

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny's Lair coverJust 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)

Book Details:
Buy Links:          Dreamspinner Press            ARe           Amazon

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)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com
seriesKnitting #5

Covers to love in reverse order:

Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny's Lair coverThe Winter Courtship of Fur Bearing CrittersHow to Raise An Honest Rabbit coverKnitter in His Natural Habitat

 

Winner Announcements and the Week Ahead in Reviews, Book Tours and Giveaways

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 It’s been a busy week at ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords with May ending and June  just beginning.  It feels like summer is about to begin.  Vacation for some, beach for some, and plenty of wonderful books to read and listen to for all.

Up this week I have cowboys, a mad historical impersonation, chefs, a mystery, and some mad knitters.  Two long awaited sequels are here.  One is Amy Lane’s Blackbirds Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair.  For those of you who have been following this Granby series and want to  know what happened to Jeremy Bunny, here is your answer.  And Sue Brown continues with her Isle of Wight series with Isle of Waves.  Don’t miss a day this week.

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Congratulations to the following winners of 3 Authors Book Contests.  They have been notified.  Thank you to all who left comments!  Happy Reading!

 

 Winner Announcements!

Winner of RJ Scott’s Giveaway is penumbrareads(at)gmail(dot)com

Winner of Katey Hawthorne’s Fairy Bound giveaway is MHupp20032003 (at) yahoo (dot) com

Winner of S.A. McAuley’s Powerless Book Giveaway is H.B.

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The Week Ahead at ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords:

Monday, June 2:             Let It Ride Book Tour with L.C. Chase (contest)

Monday, June 2:             Let It Ride (Pickup Men #2) by L.C. Chase

Tuesday, June 3:             Book Blast/Contest: Their Plane From Nowhere by Princess So

Wed., June 4:                   Dinner at Home by Rick R. Reed

Thursday, June 5:           Blackbird Knitting in the Bunny’s Lair by Amy Lane

Friday, June 6:                 On Tour with D.T. Peterson and The Cove (contest)

Friday, June 6:                The Isle of Waves by Sue Brown

Sat., June 7:                      The Actor and the Earl by Rebecca Cohen

STRW December 2013 Summary of Reviews and Best Dec. Covers

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December 2013 Book Review Summary and December Best Covers of the Month

December 2013 Review Summary

*Key:
S series
C contemporary
F-fantasy
SF-science fiction
PN-paranormal
SP-supernatural
H-historical
YA-young adult

5 Star Rating:

Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane, C
Grime Doesn’t Pay: The Brothers Grime, Eddie by Z.A.Maxfield C,S
Oceans Apart by Laura Harner, C, S
Odd Man Out (4 series finale, #6)by Laura Harner, TA Webb, Lee Brazil and Havan Fellows C,S

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

Blue River by Theo Fenraven (4 stars)PN
Christmas Serendipity by Liam Livings, (4.25)C,
Continental Divide written by Laura Harner, Lisa Worrall (4.25) C,S
Indelible Ink by Marie Lark, (4.5) C
Kick Start by Josh Lanyon C,S
Lost and Found by Z.A. Maxfield (4.5)C
Mindscape by Tal Valante (4.5) SF, S
Model Love by SJ Frost (4.25) C
Roughstock: Tag Team – Fais Do Do Season Two  by BA Tortuga(4.25)C,S

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Christmas Wish by Mychael Black, Shayne Carmichael SN, S
Housekeeping by Kim Fielding (3.75) C
Ride-Off (Polo #2) by Mickie B. Ashling (3.5)C
2 to 2.75 Star Rating:
N/A

1 to 1.75 Star Rating: N/A

Best Covers of December 2013:

Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane, cover by LC Chase
Housekeeping by Kim Fielding, cover by Paul Richmond (his M/M American Gothic)
Lost and Found by ZA Maxfield, Cover by LC Chase
Mindscape by Tal Valante, cover by LC Chase

Housekeeping

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Christmas Kitsch cover

Review: Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Christmas Kitsch coverOn the outside Rusty Baker might look like just another stereotypical football player, just one of many in his high school that looked as though they were popped out of a mold for tall, big, blond rich boys.  But on the inside Rusty is different, a difference that remains hidden until Oliver Campbell, small, dark and out Oliver Campbell, enrolls in his high school and sits next to Rusty in class. When one of the more brutish football players starts in on Oliver in class, Rusty is there to cut him off, making his protection of Oliver clear to all.  A close friendship is started, one Rusty doesn’t understand.  Because Rusty suffers from poor self esteem and thinks he is stupid. Rusty can’t understand why the cute and highly intelligent Oliver would want to be his friend.  Then the day before Rusty is to leave for Berkeley, Oliver kisses him and everything changes for them both.

The hardest thing Rusty ever had to do was leave Oliver behind going to a community college while Rusty left town for a school he knew he wasn’t ready for and couldn’t survive in.  Rusty is under a mountain of stress over everything, from grades to his sexuality and the pressure almost does him in. When Rusty returns home for Thanksgiving, it all explodes when his parents catch him kissing Oliver in the driveway and they kick him out, homeless at the holidays.

While Oliver and his dad may not have material wealth, they are rich in acceptance and love.  And with their support and Oliver’s love, Rusty just might make it through not only the holidays but the rest of his life.

In Rusty Baker Amy Lane has created one of the most luminous, heartbreaking characters I have ever read.  Ten pages into the story I started weeping over this glorious man child who has been made to feel stupid and inadequate for all his years, promptly forgetting that Rusty exists only in the pages of Christmas Kitsch and the fertile imagination of Amy Lane.  Told from Rusty’s point of view, his thoughts and feelings (as well as the manner in which Rusty voices his views that shows just how deep his lack of self esteem is) engage the reader so throughly that you forget about everything around you except for Rusty and his halting path through life.

Trust me when I say that just when you think that Rusty can’t break your heart anymore, then he says something  that seems innocuous on the surface but is so shattering in the truth that it reveals that you find yourself breaking down yet again, grabbing for that second box of tissues while realizing that you are only on page 60 or so of a 256 page story.  Rusty Baker is so incandescent in his innocence and beauty that I almost expected the pages to glow.  He is textured, and glorious and unforgettable in every way.

But Rusty can’t make it alone, either in life or in the story.  So the author has created a group of characters every bit as remarkable and amazing as Rusty himself, starting with Oliver Campbell.  Oliver really is Rusty’s polar opposite from quick intelligence to his physical exterior.  Oliver’s mixed race parentage is evident not only in his name but in his small stature, dark eyes and skin. Equally rich is the latin culture which overlays everything at home from his family’s food to their family rituals.  Oliver is highly intelligent, generous of spirit and out about his sexuality.  This is our and Rusty’s first introduction to Oliver:

Oliver showed up in early September of my senior year, slender, brown on brown on brown. Dark brown hair cut with long bangs around his narrow face, dark brown eyes with thick, thick lashes, and light brown skin. He slouched quietly in the back of Mr. Rochester’s English Literature class and eyed the rest of us with sort of a gentle amusement.

It’s that “gentle amusement” that draws Rusty in as well as Oliver’s acceptance of him no matter what  Rusty might say or the way he struggles with everything in his life.  Oliver is there to quietly shore Rusty up, giving him a look at families who love and support each other with a generosity Rusty has never had in his life.  There is a quiet glow to Oliver that is never outshown by Rusty, they complement each other perfectly. I love Oliver and Oliver’s amazing dad, Arturo, both so alive that I absolutely believed in them as a family.  And that goes for Estrella, Rusty’s housekeeper and surrogate mom, as well as Nicole, Rusty’s young sister just as starved for love and family as Rusty is.  Nicole’s fragility is slowly revealed to Rusty and the reader as she becomes more of a presence in Rusty’s life.  I know that sounds odd but when you read the story you realize just how compartmentalized Rusty’s family is and the impact of that structure upon the children.

OK, I realize I am doing it again, treating these characters as real people.   Amy Lane is a superb storyteller.  She creates worlds, situations and yes, characters that seem as real as any you might meet outside your door.  They are flawed, they bleed as well as breathe.  And when they hurt, you will hurt and bleed along with them.  And that’s because somewhere those characters crossed the line from paper personas to people we love and care for as though they are family.  I have the empty tissues boxes to prove it.

What characters seemed removed, incomplete and insubstantial?  Well, that would be Rusty’s mother and father.  And with  good reason, because they feel that way to Rusty.  His parents are cold, detached from family warmth and familial love, driven by their own ambition and control.  By the author creating characters so coldly ephemeral and disengaged from their children, it helps to establish Rusty’s viewpoint as ours and it helps to understand his upbringing as well as Nicole’s.

There is laughter to be found among the pages to go with the river of tears you will shed for this amazing boy crying out for love and understanding.  And the reader will celebrate the happiness that Rusty (and Oliver) find together after all the obstacles have been surmounted.  I found myself, exhausted, red faced and snotty, surrounded happily by empty boxes of tissues at 3am and promptly wanted to do it all over again.

If I had a minuscule quibble with this story, it would be with the title.  I would have loved it if the title would have been free of holiday references.  Why?  Because I am afraid that at any other time of the year readers unfamiliar with either Amy Lane or this story might relegate it to the Christmas story genre instead of “the must read at any time of year’ category it so deserves.  But that is a wispy sort of quibble, lacking any substance and disappearing as we speak.

I loved, loved Christmas Kitsch.  It is heartwarming as well as heartrending. It is as joyous as it is poignant! And I will read it again and again because that’s what I  do with comfort reads with characters who are real to me and dear to my heart.  I am sure you will feel the same, so grab it up and start reading.  Have that tissue box handy, you will need it.  And as a extra bonus you will be helping LGBT youth in need as well.  This is a Highly Recommended, Best of 2013 or any year.  Don’t pass it by!

Cover art by LC Chase is soft and lovely.

Special Note:

20% of all proceeds from this title are donated to the Ali Forney Center in New York, whose mission “is to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) youth from the harm of homelessness, and to support them in becoming safe and independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood.” To learn more about this charity or to donate directly, please visithttp://www.aliforneycenter.org

Book Details:

256 pages
Expected publication: December 9th 2013 by Riptide Publishing (first published December 7th 2013)
ISBN13 9781626490864
edition language English
Riptide Publishing’s Home for the Holiday Series

Scattered Thoughts July 2013 Book Review Summary

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Scattered Thoughts July 2013 Book Review Summaryjulyjpeg

It was an outstanding month with regard to books I read.  So many great books and authors that it made this month a joy to be a reader and reviewer. And even more remarkable is that every one of the 5 star rated books were all part of a great series, whether it was a long established series or a series just getting started.  Mary Calmes released her 7th book in her A Matter of Time series,, Missouri Dalton new Guidebook series promises to be an instant classic for young and old,  Amy Lane made us weep as she  finished up her beloved Promises series, and Kendall McKenna continued to prove she is one of the best military fiction writers I know with her third book in the Recon Diaries series.   And that’s just the tip of the books read and reviewed this month.  So many great stories, truly something for everyone.

All the reviews are linked.  So take a look, see what story you might have missed or new author to add to your must read list.  The bar has been set really high for August.  Just saying.

 

July 2013 Book Review Summary
5 Star Rating:
Birds of a Feather (Bellingham Mysteries #5) by Nicole Kimberling (contemporary romance)
Forever Promised (Promises #4) by Amy Lane (contemporary romance)
Necromancy and You (Guidebooks #2) by Missouri Dalton (YA horror supernatural fiction)
Parting Shot (A Matter of Time #7) by Mary Calmes (contemporary romance)
The Final Line (Recon Diaries #3) by Kendall McKenna (contemporary romance)

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:
Attachment Strings (Jeff Woods Mystery #1) by Chris T. Kat (4 stars) (contemporary romance)
Fever Anthology by M. Rode (4 stars) (contemporary romance)
Grime and Punishment (The Brothers Grime #1) by Z.A. Maxfield (4.5 stars)(contemporary romance)
Son of a Gun by A.M. Riley (4 stars) (contemporary romance)
Sweet Young Thang (Theta Alpha Gamma #3) by Anne Tenino (4.25 stars)(contemporary romance)
The Curtis Reincarnation by Zathyn Priest (4.25 stars)(contemporary romance)
Vampirism and You (Guidebooks #1) by Missouri Dalton (4.75 stars) (YA horror supernatural)
Worlds Collide (Sanctuary #7) by R. J. Scott (4.75 stars)(contemporary romance)

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:
Bully For You by Catt Ford (3.75 stars) (contemporary romance)
Love On The East End by Lily Sawyer (3.5 stars)(contemporary romance)
Pick Up Men by L.C. Chase (3.75 stars) (contemporary romance)
Tattoo You by Willa Okati (3.75 stars) (contemporary romance)
The Heir Apparent by Tere Michaels (3.75 stars) (contemporary romance)
Waiting for Ty (Lovers and Friends #2) by Samantha Ann King (3 stars) (contemporary romance)

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:
Changing Planes by Karenna Colcroft (2 stars) (contemporary romance)

1 to 1.75 Star Rating:
Side Line by Ben Ryder (1.5 stars) (contemporary romance)

Review: Forever Promised (Promises #4) by Amy Lane

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Forever Promised coverNothing stays the same forever even when you wish it too.  For the family of friends that call Levee Oaks and The Pulpit home, things are about to change and rock their lives to the core.  Four years after Crick returned injured from his tour of duty, things have settled down for him and Deacon.  Crick and Deacon have married, so have Mikhail and Shane,  Jeff and Collin, as well as Lucas and  Kimmy. Benny and Drew, and of course, Parry Angel are coming together to form a family, just as Amy and Jon have. Promise House is up and running smoothly just as Shane had always envisioned, providing a place where young men and women could get a second chance at life.  Even Martin, brother of Jeff’s former boyfriend, has settled in to become part of this larger extended family and will soon be returning to Levee Oaks to live.  With all their lives going along smoothly, of course, something happens to shake them up and provide the impetus for a decision from Benny that will change their lives forever.

When Jon and Amy receive job offers in Washington, DC with a firm that specializes in LGBTQ law suits and gay civil rights, it is impossible to turn the offer down.  But that means leaving Deacon and Crick and everyone else who has become their family behind and they are not sure they can do that.  Benny also is looking at her future and seeing many changes as well.  She will be graduating from college and Drew wants her and Parry Angel to move into the cottage with him so they can start to become a real family of their own.  But in order to move forward with her life, she wants to make sure that part of herself will always be with Deacon and Crick.  That leads to a momentous decision and a gift, that should Deacon and Crick accept, will change everyones lives forever.

Back in 2010, Amy Lane wrote a book called Keeping Promise Rock that became an almost instant classic and comfort read for so many readers.  People embraced the characters of Crick and Deacon, little Benny and Parry Angel, connecting with them deeply and with a heartfelt passion.  We clamored for more stories about them and The Pulpit, the horse farm where they lived in Levee Oaks, California and  Amy Lane obliged.  She then gave us Making Promises (Promises #2) which introduced us to Shane and the heartbreaking Mikhail, causing us to fall in love with a new set of characters while keeping our adoration for all things Crick and Deacon intact and up to date.  The third book, Living Promises, brought Jeff Beachum and Collin Waters into our lives. Actually Jeff was there early on as Crick’s physical therapist in Keeping Promise Rock where he became part of the growing circle of people around the foundation couple of the Promise series.  Living Promises starts with Jeff comforting a young Collin outside a HIV treatment center and then charts  their rough road to a loving relationship.  And as always, there to support the couple, were all the people we had come to love from all the previous books, continuing on with their lives and loves.  Sometimes funny, sometimes  painfully sad but always with their hearts and souls in the right places and full of passion.  We were there with them, deeply engaged in their relationships and their future.  Now with Forever Promised, Amy Lane brings this series to an end and I am not sure we are ready for that to happen.

Amy Lane has such a way with characterizations that the people she creates for her stories live outside the pages and constraints of her novels. They become alive for her readers.  We laugh with them and we cry for them. And sometimes just shake our heads in disbelief over their actions.  My beloved grandmother would shake her head and tell me “I  can’t believe that Erica did that to (insert name of husband here).  She knows better than that!” after watching the soap All My Children.  For her, those people in that show were real folks and she talked about them as though they were her neighbors.  That’s the way the readers (myself included) have come to feel about the people of Levee Oaks and The Pulpit.  We have lived with them through traumatic events, near death experiences, times of great sorrow and times of great joy.  How do you let that go?

The answer is not easily but Forever Promised tries hard and mostly succeeds in closing a series we never wanted to see end.  Every character we have ever come to love over the course of this series is here, in different stages of their lives.  Most have achieved a deeply loving and satisfying relationship, a majority of the couples have gotten married and Parry Angel is old enough to be on a soccer team.  A soccer team where one of the funniest passages in this story occurs.  Really, I can’t remember laughing so hard that I was gasping for breath.  One of the things that make that section so priceless is that I could see it actually happening on a soccer field in anytown, USA.  Amy Lane writes stories about real people who live through real things that happen in everyday life.  We recognize the milestones in the characters lives because they are ones that happen to us.  Her characters bleed and cry and laugh as we do.  Lane writes good people trying to be the best they can be in situations both normal and stressful, so how could we not love them?  We would in our real lives and the author understands the importance of that connection.  Amy Lane writes reality.  Whether it is dealing with kids thrown away by society, a woman unable to bear a child and her grief over that fact, or the fragility of the future before us, Amy Lane gets it and makes those truths a part of her writing.  Not once did I find myself stoping mid story to think “well, that would never happen” because the emotions and events that occur in Forever Promised and the Promise series ring with authenticity. And never more so than with the issue of surrogacy and pregnancy, which is at the center of the storyline here.

There are so many plot threads to resolve, so many lives and relationships that need a happy ending.  Forever Promised delivers that to us, but not without an event so heartbreaking that I had to put the book down for a time to get myself through it.  I am still ambivalent about this episode but acknowledge that the reality of Promise House is that not all can find their way out of past pains and anguish, and that despair and sadness is a part of life as well.  Without going into details, it will hurt then the author will use that hurt to bring the reader and the story up to another level of authenticity. Our couples find that they are happy and moving forward in ways that the reader will find moving and true.  That’s the promise Amy Lane makes to her readers and her characters, and that is the one she delivers in Forever Promised.

Each couple gets their own section in a way and the events that happen are seen from various perspectives.  Events from the past are brought up again (another reason to read these books in order), and the characters examine their past lives and how best they can go forward in their current ones.  Not all the couples are settled, several are still in transition when the book ends but that is to be expected given the number and diversity of the characters involved and the realistic way Amy Lane writes their lives.  I know I was happy to see them all moving forward, happy with each other and mostly together as a family.  Just as it should be at Promise Rock.

If my quibbles in a story are that it included a pain I didn’t want to feel, and characters I didn’t want to say goodbye to in a book that ended a series I wanted to continue on forever, well, then, those are hardly quibbles after all.   Amy Lane made us several Promises and delivered on all of them.  Forever Promised is both a gift and a promise kept.  Don’t miss out on this book and the entire journey.

Here are the Promise series in the order they wee written and should be read to understand the characters and the events that occur:

Keeping Promise Rock (Promises #1)

Making Promises (Promises #2)

Living Promiese (Promises #3)

Forever Promised (Promises #4)

Cover art by Paul Richmond shows several of the couples together. But I have to admit that I wanted to see one like the first cover, Keeping Promise Rock.  That is the one that sticks in my memory.

Book Details:

ebook, 350 pages
Published June 28th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1623808596 (ISBN13: 9781623808594)
edition language English
series Promises #4