Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bolt Hole

Bolt Hole by Amy Lane
Two more fantastic characters
Very Highly Recommended

A bolt hole a funny thing. It’s used as a hidey place, somewhere you can run to and feel safe when the hounds are after you and you need to get away from the rest of the world. Terrell Washington—his whole life is a bolt hole. He’s the shining example of what is heard way too often. He’s black and poor: his mother left him to be raised by a grandmother too busy with raising her own kids and grandkids dumped off on her, working, and her church to have much love or attention for him. 

He’s too smart for his own good, going to college and getting a journalism degree that does him no good. And to top it all off? He’s gay in a culture where that can get you killed. So he crushes it down with all his other failed dreams and hides in plain sight. He becomes a bartender, has one-offs, and grows more and more bitter.

Until he meets Colby Meyers. The two men have absolutely nothing in common—Terrell is black, poor, embittered and gay while Colby is white, shiny and funny and straight—but somehow the two form an unlikely friendship that brings sunshine into Terrell’s life. Then he finds company in the little bolt hole of his life.

It all changes when Colby takes matters into his own hands and kisses Terrell. Right as their jerk of a boss is murdered, and he’s the center of attention. Suddenly, his deepest, darkest secrets are right there on the edge of being discovered. Is Colby worth taking a step out of the dark places he’s been hiding in? And if he does, will he be safe before the murderer strikes again?

This is a different Amy Lane book, and dammit, I like it. Terrell is cranky, funny, shy, bitchy and an all-around bear of a guy. Right up my alley! He’s on the edge of giving up on everything, including himself, and all it might take is one small push to take him over the edge. That’s where Colby comes in; the pushy little white boy that makes him—and me—smile. I love that it wasn’t instalove, and that these two men become friends first. Their very sweet friendship is wonderful to watch. Sometimes, all it takes is one person willing to reach out and connect to make all the difference for a drowning man.

And Colby. Like an onion, we get to see all the layers of what could be a cliché peeled back. Where he starts as the friend, he becomes so much more. We think he’s a surfer boy dude, but we see he’s so very much more. And he’s the perfect match and foil for Terrell’s rabbiting. He forces him out from the closet—another of his many bolt holes—and has grand plans for the two of them.

The murder mystery is an essential part of the story, and is fun to watch play out. The women in this book play a vital role, and we get to see solid, real females for a change. Once of the very nice things about this book is the realness of the characters; these aren’t the men and women you expect from Amy, and it’s great to see her take a different tact. A very successful one.

Overall, another great effort. I can’t get enough of these solidly drawn, complicated and accessible characters. Fantastic job.