5 Stars, Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Tina

Review: Beneath the Stain (Parts One and Two) by Amy Lane

“I did not expect this,” he said, so startled he found the word/rhythm place without thinking. “That the person in my skin was so plain to someone else, I didn’t expect it. How is it that you can see the guy I’ve hidden mostly from myself?”– Amy Lane


Title: Beneath the Stain: Parts One and Two

Author: Amy Lane

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 95 and 71 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb – Part One: In one breath of shotgunned pot smoke, Grant Adams breaks every taboo Mackey knows—and Mackey refuses to look back. In the shadows of their small town, Mackey and Grant carry on a precocious affair under the noses and behind the backs of girlfriends, parents, and overprotective older brothers. When Mackey’s band finally has a chance to make it big, Mackey and Grant are put to the test.

And fail miserably.

Part Two: Trav Ford doesn’t like strings and he doesn’t like messes. Coming off a messy breakup, Trav is grimly determined to keep his life absolutely pristine. When Trav is asked to take over the management of Outbreak Monkey, his first order of business is to clean up their act—and that includes shipping the youngest, most troubled member off to detox and rehab before Mackey Sanders’s life choices kill him.

But Mackey didn’t become an addict overnight, and it’s going to take more than one trip to rehab to fix him up. When an act of violence destroys Mackey’s struggling equilibrium, Trav is going to find that messy isn’t so hard to escape—not when it’s wrapping its mess around Trav’s heart.

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Review: Damn that Amy Lane. There are much stronger words that want to flow from my fingertips, but alas, I don’t want to offend everyone. In general I hate serials. I want an Oompa Loompa, and I want it now! I don’t want to wait until next week, dammit! But, I love Amy Lane’s work. You see my dilemma. Her latest release is Beneath the Stain, a serialized novel being released in seven weekly bits that leave me clamoring for more. I guess I should be happy that they are being released weekly instead of monthly. Note to all authors: That. Was. Not. A. Suggestion! The novel in its entirety will be available October 17, 2014.

Oh, I forgot to mention it’s about rock stars. Who can resist a good gay rock star novel? Beneath the Stain begins in Tyson, CA, a small town where everyone knows everyone and their business, including the four brothers with different dads and their single mom. Mackey, Kell, and Jeff are the older three and start a band, Outbreak Monkey (Best band name EVER! Thank you Mary Calmes), with their friends Grant and Stevie. Mackey and Grant fall in love, but Grant has been Kell’s best friend for years, and Kell isn’t quiet about his hatred of homosexuals. Grant has a girlfriend for appearances only, but eventually it has to become more so she won’t out him.

Grant makes the ultimate sacrifice and forces Mackey to do the same in order to enable them to get out of Tyson. The only way for them to do it is to leave Grant behind. As the band’s popularity grows, Mackey sinks deeper into depression, promiscuity, and drug abuse. In parts one and two of Beneath the Stain, we see the band getting everything they want as a whole, but the pieces are falling apart. Their manager is just holding them together by sheer will. But, tragedy hits and Trav Ford is brought on as Outbreak Monkey’s new handler. His first task is to whip everyone into shape, beginning with Mackey.

Amy Lane has done what she does best here. These characters are people you want to know. I mean, really know. I felt like if I could crawl inside the book and interact with them, I’d do it in a New York minute. The layers Ms. Lane uses to build these young men from the ground up gives them such a strong foundation that before we realize it, we are completely sucked into their world, and they feel real to us. This is the magic that she uses as effortlessly as the rest of us breathe.

This isn’t just a series of short pieces which make up a novel that Amy Lane has written. There are songs too, original songs that Mackey, as the lead singer and sex appeal of the band, writes and keeps in a pile of notebooks that travel everywhere with them. Once I finally figured out that he wasn’t real, it dawned on me that Amy had written those lyrics. They ripped my fucking heart out. The pain and longing and feelings of loneliness and need that those lyrics describe are gut wrenching. There is a song Mackey writes about the feelings he experienced during detox from drugs. I could almost feel his physical pain it when I read the lyrics. So, not only has Amy Lane created an entire community of characters with full back-stories and completely developed personas, she wrote songs too.

Some people have what seems like an bottomless well of talents and abilities. As much as I can’t stand the smug bastard, James Franco comes to mind. He can do anything he tries. I fully believe the same is true of Amy Lane. She would argue that, but self-deprecation is one of her many charms.

I literally can’t wait to see what happens with Outbreak Monkey next. I normally would wait until the entire novel was released instead of reading it one piece at a time, but I alone am responsible for this tortuous waiting because I wasn’t willing to hold out that long. Damn me and my constant need for immediate Oompa Loompas! This is a must read. The wait is worth it. Especially if you’re a masochist.




You can buy Beneath the Stain: Parts One and Two here:

Part One

Part Two

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