Keeping Promise Rock

Author: Amy Lane
Buy Link:
Genre: m/m contemporary romance
Length: Novel
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5

A guest review by Jenre


Carrick Francis has spent most of his life jumping into trouble with both feet. The only thing saving him from prison or worse is his absolute devotion to Deacon Winters. Deacon was Crick’s sanity and salvation during a miserable, abusive childhood, and Crick would do anything to stay with him forever. So when Deacon’s father dies, Crick puts his college plans on hold to help Deacon as Deacon has helped him.

Deacon’s greatest wish is to see Crick escape his memories and the town they grew up in so Crick can enjoy a shining future. But after two years of growing feelings and temptation, the painfully shy Deacon finally succumbs to Crick’s determined advances and admits he sees himself as part of Crick’s life.

It nearly destroys Deacon when he discovers Crick has been waiting for him to push him away, just like Crick’s family did in the past. When Crick’s knack for volatile decisions lands him far away from home, Deacon is left, shell-shocked and alone, struggling to reforge his heart in a world where love with Crick is a promise, but by no means a certainty.


Keeping Promise Rock begins with a tense prologue.  Our hero, Crick, is in Iraq, travelling in an ambulance when the vehicle in front is blown up.  Crick is thrown from the ambulance and then loses consciousness.  His last thoughts are of Deacon and how much he regrets that their time together was so short.  The story proper then begins as we meet Crick as a child and follow him through a painful abusive childhood, the only bright spot being the love that is given to him by ranch owner Parish Winters and his son Deacon, who offer Crick work and an escape from his life at home.  As the two boys grow up, Crick suffers from a terrible crush on Deacon which grows into a strong love.  Crick is overjoyed when that love seems to be returned but mixed messages and fate cause the men to be separated.

If you are the sort of reader who likes being taken on a long emotional journey, then this book is for you.  I was thoroughly swept up by the story which is told in sections, firstly by Crick and then by alternating between Deacon and Crick.  The first part which deals with Crick growing up is full of the hope and disappointments that categorise childhood and adolescence.  We learn that Crick is impulsive, mouthy and prone having trouble find him through no fault of his own.  We also learn that despite his cruel treatment at the hands of his step-father, he loves his sisters very much and takes better care of them than their parents do.  Time and time again he praises Deacon, seeing in him a hero and a rescuer.  This hero-worship means that Deacon comes across as idealised and I was glad that when the point of view changed we got to see a more human side of Deacon, especially during his brief period of completely falling apart.  Both men have their problems, Crick lives in constant expectation of rejection and Deacon fears being left alone.  It is ironic that these fears which should compliment each other are what drives the two men apart.

Alongside the two characters and their changing relationship from friends into lovers, various themes are explored.  First and foremost are the theme of rejection and acceptance.  As I said earlier, this is Crick’s primary fear as past experience has led to him being rejected by his parents over and over, and by his peers and teachers at school.  This is mirrored later in the actions of his step-father towards his sister, and the townsfolk when they learn that Crick and Deacon are gay.  These actions are then contrasted with the love and acceptance that Crick and his sister get from Deacon and his friends.  Another theme is that of family and how being part of a family can either make or destroy a person.  These themes are seamlessly interwoven in with the narrative, with each character, no matter how minor, perfectly placed to further the plot and add to the themes.  There were no superfluous characters, no part of the book which I felt didn’t contribute positively to the story.  This meant that my emotional investment in the story was high, as I read on to find out how Crick and Deacon would resolve their problems and be set on their path to a HEA.  By the end of the book, I was almost in tears at how perfectly the romance had concluded and I was very satisfied, as well as sad to leave the characters, as I read the last page.

If I have anything negative at all to say about the book, it is that Crick’s mother and step-father were a little too harshly drawn.  They came across as unfeeling monsters most of the time and I would have liked to have seen them a little more nuanced as characters.  However, I also accept that during the book we see them only from Crick or Deacon’s, admittedly biased, point of view.  I did think that near the end of the book we were going to maybe get a little more insight into what drives Crick’s mother, but sadly that wasn’t the case.  This meant that the ‘good’ people in the book were the most rounded and believable characters whereas the ‘bad’ people often behaved irrationally with little explanation as to what motivated them.

Despite this slight niggle, Keeping Promise Rock is still a fabulous book from a very promising new author.  It’s not a fast paced read, but instead I was treated to a slow burning romance where the focus was on flawed, complex characters who frequently make mistakes which impact not only on themselves but on the lives of the other characters in the book.  I was spellbound.  I would highly recommend this book to those readers who are looking for a in-depth, character based romance.



  • Wow! This must be the tearjerker m/m story of the year for me. By around page 100, I was crying out (to the author) “Gimme a break please, I don’t want to cry anymore!” Heh..
    She kindly let me off for the next 20 pages (and the book is over 300 pages long…). Gee thanks!
    I missed a breakfast date with my sister. But she came around to my house, only to catch me in tears and dragged me away from Crick and Deacon but not really cos I took my Sony Reader with me…
    That was such a good story! But I don’t want to cry anymore, not for a week at least.

    • Hi Salina
      I’m so glad that you enjoyed this book too. You’ll have to go and find a comedy to read now – that should stop the tears, unless you start crying with laughter :D.

  • Karin– I have a free series of novellas on my website if you’d like to read it– –that features an m/m/f relationship. It’s tied into my urban fantasy series (so it does give spoilers) but, well, it is free! Go to the link, choose Amy’s Writings from the top menu, then choose Yearning from the side menu and work your way up:-)

    • Hi Amy
      Don’t let Wave catch you recommending m/m/f on this blog Amy, we’re strictly m/m here, you know ;).
      I don’t like m/m/f so I won’t be reading those books but I am looking forward to your next m/m release, whenever that will be :).

  • Jenre, I competely agree with your review! This book was good!! That’s saying something, because I’m not a fan of Amy Lane’s books. Not that she writes bad or anything, I just don’t always like them.
    I surprised myself with this one. It’s defenitely in my top 10 op best e-books 😀

    • Hi Larissa
      After I finished reading this I though to myself – it may only be January, but this book may possibly be one of my top books for the year. We’ll see how I feel when December rolls around :).
      I’ve only read one other short story from this author and I enjoyed it. I’ll certainly be looking out for her other books in future.

  • I agree it was a wonderful book. Crick and Deacon had to fight hard, each other and themselves – I liked that neither was always weak or strong but changing as necessary by situation, kind of like real life.

    • Hi Clovermax
      That’s a really good way to put it. Often in m/m books there seems to be one man who has more power (either physical or emotional) over the other man. This wasn’t the case at all with this book, as both Deacon and Crick are very evenly matched and as the book progressed their strengths and weaknesses changed and developed.

  • Jen
    I think Amy will be pleased. I forwarded a copy of your review to her since she was kind enough to send the book in advance of its release date.
    Great review. I’m looking forward to reading Keeping Promise Rock and will put it on top of my TBR.

    • Hi Wave
      I’m sure Amy will be thrilled with this review. Just as I was thrilled at reading such a great book. Hope you enjoy it too :).

  • Jenre, when I first heard about this book I checked it out at DSP and read the excerpt. Boy, that excerpt alone had me all excited and I thought that if the rest of the book is as good as the snippet I’ll be in for a treat.
    So I had this on my TBB list even before you posted your review and I think I’ll definitely buy the paperback.
    Anyway, thank your for your thorough review.

  • Oooh, sounds wonderful to me. I’m adding it to my TBB list right now. Thanks Jen, great review.

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