Saturday, February 25, 2012

"Chase in Shadow"

Review - "Chase in Shadow" by Amy Lane

Heartbreaking, real, and oh-so-damned good

Very Highly Recommended

Chase is a college student, working on his degree.  A baseball jock.  The All American boy.  Struggling, living with his girlfriend Mercy, the two work hard to maintain an apartment, and school, and plan, and save for a future.

Chase comes from a harsh background.  Raised by his father after his mother committed suicide when he was a young boy, he’s struggled to be the perfect son.  His father’s scorn drives him to be more, have more, make no missteps.

So when his friends mention a local gay filmmaking company that’s scouting talent, he thinks it may be a way to make some quick cash.  Not to mention, a way to fulfill the part of him longing for another man’s touch.  His fumblings with his best friend Donnie aside, he’s only ever been with Mercy.

Johnnie’s, the porn site, is glad to have him.  He’s mentored before his first shoot by Dex, and the two form an immediate friendship.  Then his first day on the set, he catches sight of Tango.  Hot, devilish, full of life, there’s an immediate attraction.  Chase – or Chance, his porn alter ego – fits right in with these guys.  He has no trouble with the performance.  Revels in it.  

Before long, he has the opportunity to meet and talk to Tango on a shoot.  The chemistry is there, but more, another friendship is struck.  They begin to get closer, and when tragedy strikes Tango, Chase is the first he calls to help and be there.

So begins a series of events that splits Chance in two.  On the one hand, he’s the dutiful boyfriend and fiancĂ© to Mercy.  On the other, he’s in a fledgling relationship with his soul mate, Tommy.  One he fights and which may ultimately blow up in his face.  Because he’s struggling to keep secrets from his childhood, live two separate lives, and keep his head above the red water that threatens to drag him under.

What will happen when his two worlds collide? 

This book – this beautiful, tragic and stunning book - was at once a revelation, a blessing, and a stake through my heart.  

A little background. I’m a 50 year old single gay man living in the suburbs of Atlanta.  I’ve been in a couple of relationships, the most recent one for thirteen plus years.  I’ve lost two men in my life to suicide, one a best friend and one a love who was living a double life.  And I’ve worked with abused teens in a residential setting as CFO for a nonprofit agency.

So the issues in this book hit me hard.  Young people with mental health issues.  Suicide.  Men living double lives.  Men who like other men, trying hard to live a straight lifestyle.  

I respect the hell out of Amy Lane.  She takes on these hard issues and makes them bearable. Relevant.  Painful but so damn… I don’t know, I can’t find the words for it. Brutally accessible?

I remember when “The Thornbirds” came out, and the legend behind it always struck me. The bird stayed silent its whole life, searching for the thorn tree.  When it finds it, the bird pierces its breast on it and, as it dies, sings a song so sweet even God stops to listen.

And that’s how I feel about Chase.  So repressed, so bottled up, and then, then when he finally sings, we all stop and gasp; want to hold him and heal him and make him our own.  My own.

God.  No wonder it was so easy. He’s been bleeding since he was a baby.”

This was a hard book to read for me.  And I would read it every day, just to hear Chase sing that hauntingly aching, soul searing song.

Bless you, Amy.  Now I’ll go wipe my eyes and take a deep breath and celebrate one sweet man who made it.


(Originally written for the Paranormal Romance Guild, where I am a sometime reviewer)

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