Author: Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 350 Pages (Full Series)
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: In a town as small as Tyson, CA, everybody knew the four brothers with the four different fathers—and their penchant for making good music when they weren’t getting into trouble. For Mackey Sanders, playing in Outbreak Monkey with his brothers and their friends—especially Grant Adams—made Tyson bearable. But Grant has plans for getting Mackey and the Sanders boys out of Tyson, even if that means staying behind.
Between the heartbreak of leaving Grant and the terrifying, glamorous life of rock stardom, Mackey is adrift and sinking fast. When he’s hit rock bottom, Trav Ford shows up, courtesy of their record company and a producer who wants to see what Mackey can do if he doesn’t flame out first. But cleaning up his act means coming clean about Grant, and that’s not easy to do or say. Mackey might make it with Trav’s help—but Trav’s not sure he’s going to survive falling in love with Mackey.
Mackey James Sanders comes with a whole lot of messy, painful baggage, and law-and-order Trav doesn’t do messy or painful. And just when Trav thinks they may have mastered every demon in Mackey’s past, the biggest, baddest demon of all comes knocking.
WARNING: THESE REVIEWS CONTAIN SPOILERS!
Review: In the sixth installment of the amazing Amy Lane’s Beneath the Stain, Trav finally gets to meet Grant. In Trav’s mind, Grant is this specter that hangs over the Sanders brothers and Outbreak Monkey, affecting everything they do. Grant is the reason Mackey is an addict. Grant is the first love to which Trav will forever play second guitar. Well, Blake is the replacement guitarist, but second guitar seemed so much more appropriate for my purposes than second fiddle.
Grant stayed behind in Tyson when Outbreak Monkey signed their recording contract and left to become rock stars. He has a wife and daughter and is living as a straight man, though the entire band now knows the truth about him and Mackey. Grant is the co-writer on all of Mackey’s early songs, some of which Mackey wrote in tribute to his love for Grant. Grant is sent a royalty check each month from the band’s earnings because of the role he played in their early, local success. SPOILER
Immediately after their tour ends, the members of Outbreak Monkey, all but one of whom grew up with Grant, and Trav (their manager and Mackey’s lover), fly home to Tyson to see Grant. This is the first time Mackey has been home in three years. He is forced to confront all the ghosts and demons that still live there. SPOILER
What the young men find when they arrive in Tyson is a town that hasn’t changed from the poverty stricken, redneck small town they left behind. They find a small, sad shell of their friend and former lover, stuck in a hate-filled marriage, living with parents who are disgusted by him. They find his daughter, the one bright spot in the hell surrounding them. They find the homophobia they left behind has just grown stronger in their physical absence but tabloid presence.
In Part Six, Ms. Lane does what she does best. She makes the emotions of her characters come to life and lift off the pages to swirl about in your room like a mist until they surround you and penetrate your every pore and make you feel everything they are experiencing. It is deliciously excruciating. It is sinus headache inducing. It is the magic that is Amy Lane.
This installment of the series sets up the final one, in which Outbreak Monkey’s story, at least for our purposes, comes to an end. But it does so much more than set up the end. We know these men on a deeper level than before. And I thought I knew them already. We see sides of them; especially Trav, that we didn’t know existed. And we get closure on our anger toward Grant. That anger and sense of betrayal at the events that occurred as a result of his actions mixes with that mist of feelings surrounding you and is absorbed by osmosis until it is so diluted with love and understanding that it is no longer noticeable.
Unlike the amazing Amy Lane, I have a limited supply of superlatives. There are only so many times I can say her books are good, great, amazing, astounding, etc. At some point, you all just have to know what my bottom line is: read this book.
Part Seven: You know that old commercial for Pepto Bismol or something with the tagline “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing?” Well, I can’t believe I read the whole thing. I say that because I’d be perfectly happy if Amy Lane decided to make Outbreak Monkey into a regular thing. I have fallen hard for this group of stunning, unique characters, and relished the anticipation each week as I waited for the next part to hit my e-mail inbox. I felt special because I got to read the extended scene at the end of each installment. Those scenes gave insight into some stuff that happened off page of the main serial but had obviously happened at some point. Like where Kell took care of Briony when she was sick. I got to witness a side of both of them that wasn’t fully developed during the telling of the overall story of Outbreak Monkey. It was like a peek behind the curtain, only I got to pay attention to the man hiding back there.
Again I say, read this book.
You can buy Beneath the Stain here: