Making Promises (Promises #2)

Title: Making Promises (Promises #2)
Author: Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: M/M contemporary romance
Length: Novel
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

A guest review by Jenre

Summary Review
This ‘sort of’ sequel to Keeping Promise Rock is another absorbing, emotional read.

THE BLURB

All Shane Perkins ever wanted to be was a hero. But after a career-shattering decision to go down fighting, Shane comes home from the hospital to four empty walls, a pile of money, and a burning desire for someone to miss him the next time he gets hurt in the line of duty. He ends up an officer in the small town of Levee Oaks, and, addicted to the promise of family, he makes an effort to reconcile with his flighty, troubled sister. Kimmy makes her living as a dancer, and her partner steals Shane’s breath at first sight.

Mikhail Vasilyovitch Bayul dances like an angel, but his past is less than heavenly. Since he left Russia, he’s made only two promises: to stay off the streets and stay clean, and to take his mother someplace beautiful before she dies. Making promises to anybody else is completely out of the question—but then, Mikhail has never met anybody like Shane. Earnest, brave, and self-deprecating, Shane seems to speak Mikhail’s language, and no one is more surprised than Mikhail to find that keeping promises is Shane’s best talent of all.

Promises

THE REVIEW

Keeping Promise Rock has to be one of my favourite books of 2010, and so it’s inevitable really that Making Promises, set in the same town and featuring the same characters had a lot to live up to. Whilst I enjoyed the book a great deal, and once again had to get the tissues, this one didn’t give that ‘wow’ feeling that I got with the first book, mostly due to the character of Shane.

The story follows a concurrent timeline with the previous book. It begins after the time that Crick gets back from Iraq, but before our hero Shane appears in the first book. Shane is an LA cop who has transferred to the small redneck town of Levee Oaks after he was wounded badly in the line of duty. Abandoned and betrayed by his lover, Shane starts the new job with a determination that his past mistakes will not affect the love he has for being a cop. Whilst visiting his sister at a travelling medieval fair, Shane meets Mikhail, a beautiful but very troubled dancer. There’s an attraction between them, but Shane refuses to let Mikhail be just another one night stand and sets out instead to woo and win him over.

There was much to like about this story, mostly I felt in the character of Mikhail and the relationship he has with his mother. Ylena is dying of cancer, and the way that the strong bond is shown between mother and son, was both delightful and saddening. Mikhail isn’t the easiest of characters to like: he’s selfish, skittish, arrogant and very self-absorbed most of the time. However, his love for his mother and the sacrifices he makes for her meant that I warmed to Mikhail as the book progressed. Mikhail’s past is something which still affects how he views life and other people in the book, as he is unable to make friends and open up to people, but I liked how the characters of Benny, Andrew and Jeff were able to accept him (mostly at first for Shane’s sake) and allow him to change, to move away from the frightened, comfortable self-absorption by the end of the book. It was this development in Mikhail’s character that was perhaps the strongest element of this book.

The weakest aspect of the book, in my opinion (and I might just be in the minority with this), was the character of Shane. He was just too perfect. Too nice, too generous, too gentle. He always seemed to know exactly the right things to say, especially to the skittish Mikhail. He’s noble, self-sacrificing, friendly…I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Thinking about it, maybe that is Shane’s character flaw – that he’s so wrapped up in being the nicest, kindest human being he can, that he is not true to himself and is too concerned about being the best for other people. Still, I found him endlessly frustrating when he always knew the right things to say, the right way to deal with people and the situations they are in.  Many times through the book I found myself thinking ‘no-one is that perfect’ and it added a false note to what is an absorbing story.

Despite my problems with Shane, this book is still a really good read with many other things to recommend it. I liked revisiting some of the characters from Keeping Promise Rock, especially as we get to know more about the more minor characters such as Benny, Andrew and Jeff. The descriptions of the Medieval fair, and of the dancing (both Shane’s sister and Mikhail) were realistically done. I also liked that the book is firmly routed in the setting and all the problems that entails for a gay (or in Shane’s case bisexual) cop in a small homophobic town. The secondary characters are well drawn, and not just Ylena, but Shane’s cop partner, Calvin, his sister Kimmy, and a whole host of other characters who move in and out of Shane and Mikhail’s life. The book draws you in and keeps you reading right to the last page.

For those readers, like me, who read and loved Keeping Promise Rock, this book is a must. In theory you can read it without reading KPR first, but your reading experience wouldn’t be as rich if you haven’t. I really enjoyed immersing myself back in the world of Deacon & Crick, Shane & Mikhail and would recommend Making Promises to those readers who like strong writing, heavy on emotional content and interesting characterisation.

36 comments

  • Hi there, You have done a great job. I will certainly digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I’m confident they’ll be benefited from this website.

  • Hi budajsguy

    I’m glad you liked the book too. You are right Shane did have a lot of depth to him as a character but I still found him too perfect. I think I’m just attracted to really flawed characters with terrible problems, which is why the perfection of Shane didn’t do it for me :).

  • Amy, I laughed so hard when I saw “mudak”! I call my roommate that each time he ticks me off and he always glares, but never asks what it means! The mishka moment got me a little gooey inside, I have to admit. I’m just silly that way, I guess. 🙂 Russian diminutives are so much fun–and often so much longer than the original name! (Ivanushka or Nikolasha, anyone?) Sadly, I’ve forgotten most of my Russian, but it was great to exercise those old muscles again.

    I’m not necessarily a fan of the new phonetic spelling. The sound “yeh” being transliterated now with just an “e”, for example, just makes it that much more difficult for those without knowledge of the Russian vowels to make the switch (think Yeltsin/Eltsin). Don’t even get me started on how much more sense the Cyrillic alphabet makes! *g*

    *shakes off the language geek-freak*

    Thank you for the timeline and the explanation of “Mickey”. It makes more sense now, but I can’t promise my brain won’t protest again next time I read it! Shane Patrick, eh? I like it. lol

  • LOL, budajguy–I’m so glad you’re enjoying the work– three in three makes me very proud!

    I do indeed know that the nickname for ‘Mikhail’ is Misha–and I was tempted to use it. But Shane didn’t know, and Mikhail… well, he liked Shane’s nickname, and it stuck. (I was tempted to have Ylena call him Misha, but calling him her ‘little boy’ seemed so much more poignant, and I wanted to stick w/one nickname per person:-) You’re very right–I’ve always thought Misha was both sexy and purty… but then, smooth is not Shane’s middle name:-) (I’m pretty sure it’s Patrick, but then, I haven’t seen his driver’s license.)

    (You know what no one has asked me yet? What Mishka means. *shakes head* odd…)

    Timeline– this was tough for me to do (because me and time are not such good friends), but what I had in mind was this: (SPOILERS, ALTHOUGH I’M TRYING TO BE SUBTLE!)

    May: Shane answers the call at the Pulpit
    June: Deacon and Crick go to Washington and come up with the monthly meeting plan.
    October: Shane goes to the fair
    December: The cruise
    January: In MP, it’s ‘family to the rescue’ time.
    February: In KPR this is when Shane comes with the news with the new job. In MP, the same thing happens, but we see that this is when the boys are on ‘furlough’ from their vigil.
    April: The last scene in KPR, and the moment in MP when Mikhail realizes that there IS no one better for Shane.
    June: Shane gets his ribs broken and his ex shows up.
    September: end of book

    And as for the Russian? I had a LOT OF HELP with it–I started out knowing a few terms, but those terms had changed phonetic spelling in the last few years. There were also terms I DIDN’T know but WANTED to know (mudak, for one!) and those were REALLY HARD to get a phonetic translation for. (Mudak? I had to ask someone for an all purpose Russian word that means asshole-fuckhead. I got three different answers, but my editors at DSP, God love ’em, said this was the one they’d seen the most!)

    I’m so impressed you know Russian, sir– I’m afraid what little I did know at the beginning had been all stir-fried in my teeny brain by the end of this book!!!

  • I love the comments on these reviews!

    Let me first say that I have missed Deacon & Crick. KPR is in my top 10 favorite books. I bought that one with such trepidation because I’d never read Amy Lane’s work before and, from the blurb, I knew it would be either brilliant or brutally bad. It was (*hear Oprah’s voice*) Briiillll-yuhnt!! So I was definitely ready for Making Promises!

    It cracks me up that people had problems with Shane. I loved everything about him. He’s rock solid steady, but with a whole host of inner demons. Placid demeanor, but with one hell of an undertow, ya know? He may know how to read and work Mikhail, but he still has issues figuring himself out. But it’s the rock solid steady that draws me. *writes down to tell shrink*

    What bugged me was “Mickey.” Not Mikhail, but the use of the name Mickey. Ya chut-chut gavoryu po-Russki, so my mind growled, “Misha!” every time I saw “Mickey.”

    I had a couple of twinges about the timeline in relation to KPR–wasn’t Mikhail with Shane when he first showed up at the Pulpit? I don’t remember for sure. It’s been a while. Either way, I let it go pretty easily.

    So, I’m 3 for 3 with Amy Lane’s books now. Loved each of them in totally different ways and for completely different reasons.

    Spacibo bol’shoye, Amy!

  • I liked the book (not as much as I loved, loved and loved again Keeping Promise Rock) but I have to agree I also find Shane a bit too perfect. Not bothered me majorly, I met plenty of really nice, good people through life, so I can believe in his existance, but he was giving out that vibe for me.

    • Hi Sirius

      I’m glad someone agrees with me about Shane :). I’m glad that you enjoyed the book, and I agree with you, not as wonderful as KPR, but still a really great read.

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