Review - "Living Promises" by Amy Lane
Just...WOW. I LOVE THIS SERIES
Recommendation Cum Laude
But first, a Disclaimer...
Disclaimer: Just to be upfront, I love Amy Lane, and I now consider her to be a friend. When I read "Keeping Promise Rock" last year, I became a 12 year old girl and she was Justin Bieber and I was totally and shamelessly a fanboy. She was kind enough to respond to my first ever attempt at a fan letter, which sounded like, "Thank you for being awesome and creating Crick and Deacon and ohmygodohmygodohmygod I am not worthy" with a "No, thank YOU for telling me you enjoyed my writing and I am the one not worthy" or something like that. It was then that I started to get the idea that, huh, writers, like the rest of us, like to be told, "Good job". What a concept. So thanks, Amy Lane, for setting me on the path that leads me to this blog.
So now, on to the review!
Amy Lane is just about perfect. Her "Talker" books, and the three gems that make up the "Promise Rock" series to date are so thoughtfully written and the characters so skillfully wrought that I cannot imagine them being any better.
The basic premise is something we come to expect with Ms. Lane; a flawed man meets another flawed man and falls in love. In this case the flawed man is Jeff, the PT who befriends Crick in book one, and plays a role with Shane and Mikhail in book two. His "boy meets boy" other half is Collin, a new character in the series who Jeff meets early on, but who comes back several years later to capture his heart. Storytelling 101, but how the journey begins and the road to get to love, that is where this writer soars.
Jeff has been an intriguing character in the background of the two previous installments, but he gets to be full out front stage diva in this work. And man, does he shine. His story, how he became HIV positive (a fact not hidden in the past books), and how he became Uncle Jeffy to this family just reverberates. Then, Collin comes into his life, not once, but twice. Taking on a love story between two men who are HIV positive is new ground, and Holy Jesus, does Ms. Lane set the bar high. At the end, I cannot decide who I love most in these books, Deacon and Crick, Shane and Mickey or Jeff and Collin. Deacon rightfully is the stunner, and who would not fall in love with him. But these two guys, I choke up just thinking about their story. Nothing rocket science here, just honest characters with whom I fell in love.
The key to Ms. Lane's writing, to me, is the gentleness with which she creates these characters and the love she invests in them. Like another reviewer pointed out, and I have to agree, these are PEOPLE. I know these folks in my real life, even though the names are different. The backstories are built with such care and love, and the pains and tragedies and, ultimately, joys that they experience just ring so true. These are men (and women) that we all know and care about, and I cannot remember having to put any book down so much to wipe away tears (of pain, heartbreak, joy and laughter) as I have with her characters.
I ramble, I know, but honest to God, if you don't read anything else this year, read this book. This story will break your heart then heal it with so much love and grace. No spoiler, but the scene right at the end, at Promise Rock, when Mikhail speaks and Collin reacts, THAT, my friends is emotion so real, it cannot be faked.
These books, to me, stand up against piece of literature I can name, including the masters. The old "If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take one book (or set) with you, what would it be" question? Easily - I would take these three, and the fourth when it comes out.
Amy Lane, love you lady. Your friend Bonnie (who you mention in your dedication) isn't the only one who had your back about your writing. It is an honor to read your work and shared time with your amazing Deacon, Crick, Shane, Mickey, Jeff and Collin.