Friday, March 24, 2017

Bonfires by Amy Lane

Ten years ago Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron George lost his wife and moved to Colton, hoping growing up in a small town would be better for his children. He’s gotten to know his community, including Mr. Larkin, the bouncy, funny science teacher. But when Larx is dragged unwillingly into administration, he stops coaching the track team and starts running alone. Aaron—who thought life began and ended with his kids—is distracted by a glistening chest and a principal running on a dangerous road.

Larx has been living for his kids too—and for his students at Colton High. He’s not ready to be charmed by Aaron, but when they start running together, he comes to appreciate the deputy’s steadiness, humor, and complete understanding of Larx’s priorities. Children first, job second, his own interests a sad last.

It only takes one kiss for two men approaching fifty to start acting like teenagers in love, even amid all the responsibilities they shoulder. Then an act of violence puts their burgeoning relationship on hold. The adult responsibilities they’ve embraced are now instrumental in keeping their town from exploding. When things come to a head, they realize their newly forged family might be what keeps the world from spinning out of control.

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Book 1
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Dreamspinner Press

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

The blurb of the book was good; I was really excited to read this book, until I started reading it. This book was wordy, too wordy, about stuff you had no clue about. I felt like I started a book in the middle of a series, I was lost. Then the main characters were so worried about their kids and taking things slow and next thing you know they are sleeping together and moving in all in a week’s time. I found myself skimming at times because it was a really wordy book and not in a good way. The things I wanted to know about weren’t covered because the author was talking about other crap that I could care less about. The only good thing about this book were the main characters’ kids – well most of them, Aaron’s one daughter was a big jerk. The kids were all very loving and supportive and not judgmental and looking out to not even hurt the bully’s feelings. This book took me days to read, which isn’t normal, so obviously this book wasn’t for me, but I am sure there are others that will think it is the cat’s meow.

Characters: Didn’t act like middle aged men
Sex: Yes
Religious: No
Would I recommend to others: Maybe?
More than one book in the series: Not sure, I hear there might be more but there really doesn’t need to be, the ending was sufficient.
Genre: M/M
Would I read more by this author: Yes

There is something honest and real about this middle age love story that is both wonderful and rare in romance fiction. The tentative, fumbling connection between two men who have already loved, who have established families, careers, and lives before meeting each other resonated deeply with me.

Both Larx and Aaron put their own needs on hold for years while they raised their children as single fathers. In some ways, their relationship is instalove, but this is instalove between two men who have had years to understand themselves and their needs. The drama and angst of young love is absent – this romance takes place quietly within the few spare moments free from personal and professional responsibilities. Larx and Aaron become companions, friends, and partners as they attempt to blend their lives and their families.

Amy Lane brings her usual formula of heartwarming happy families and gritty realism to this story. As older characters, much of the story also focuses on Larx and Aaron’s professional lives. I really loved the complexity of their lives. Romance writing so often focuses on dreams and ambitions but here, both Larx and Aaron are settled and happy with their lives before they get together.

One of the main strands of this story focuses on homophobia in American high schools. It shocked me and made me so grateful to be a teacher in the UK where LGBT rights are enshrined in law and we have a government directive to promote equality in the classroom. I did smile at some of the school scenes because the author captures the relationships between teachers and students perfectly – some things are universal.

A crime story is also woven through this book and I enjoyed the action and suspense. I loved this story. I loved the older characters and I enjoyed the small-town politics and intrigue.

4.5 Stars

I have to admit that I picked this book up not because of the blurb, but because of the author. I have read many of Amy Lane's stories. She has such a creative way of weaving a story together that it feels real in a way that so many others do not.

That being said, I absolutely loved that this story was about a pair of men who were no longer in their prime years. Men that had lived as married, straight men for many years, but both also knew that they were bi and weren't necessarily ashamed to admit it, more afraid of how it would impact their children's lives and their jobs than anything else.

This story includes a lot about family and their professional lives, which is to be expected when these men have full lives even without this budding relationship to deal with. Then there is a high school situation where not everyone is so accepting. There is a mystery to be solved when a student gets injured after coming out, but this is also a very pivotal moment in the story that really allows many of the characters to show their true colors.

While I really enjoyed this story, there were times when the two men left me baffled. They'd talk about taking it slow, but then they'd find themselves rushing into things just moments later.

AMY LANE is a mother of two college students, two grade-schoolers, and two small dogs. She is also a compulsive knitter who writes because she can’t silence the voices in her head. She adores fur-babies, knitting socks, and hawt menz, and she dislikes moths, cat boxes, and knuckle-headed macspazzmatrons. She is rarely found cooking, cleaning, or doing domestic chores, but she has been known to knit up an emergency hat/blanket/pair of socks for any occasion whatsoever, or sometimes for no reason at all. Her award-winning writing has three flavors: twisty-purple alternative universe, angsty-orange contemporary, and sunshine-yellow happy. By necessity, she has learned to type like the wind. She’s been married for twenty-plus years to her beloved Mate and still believes in Twu Wuv, with a capital Twu and a capital Wuv, and she doesn’t see any reason at all for that to change.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Bonfires (Bonfires #1) by Amy Lane to read and review.

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