Clear Water

Author: Amy Lane
Cover Artist: Dan Skinner/Cerebus Inc.
Buy Link:  Clear Water
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Length: 230 pages
Rating: 5+ out of 5 rating stars

A Guest Review by Raine

Summary Review: Befuddled by ADHD, the delightful Patrick is rescued from a life of rat bastard boyfriends by unlikely hero Whiskey in a funny and poignant romance.

Blurb: Meet Patrick Cleary: party boy, loser, and spaz. Patrick’s been trying desperately to transform himself, and the results have been so spectacular, they’ve almost killed him. Meet Wes “Whiskey” Keenan: he’s a field biologist wondering if it’s time to settle down. When the worst day of Patrick’s life ends with Whiskey saving it, Patrick and Whiskey find themselves sharing company and an impossibly small berth on the world’s tackiest houseboat.

Patrick needs to get his life together—and Whiskey wants to help—but Patrick is not entirely convinced it’s doable. He’s pretty sure he’s a freak of nature. But Whiskey, who works with real freaks of nature, thinks all Patrick needs is a little help to see the absolute beauty inside his spastic self, and Whiskey is all about volunteering. Between anomalous frogs, a homicidal ex-boyfriend, and Patrick’s own hangups, Whiskey’s going to need all of his patience and Patrick’s going to need to find the best of himself before these two men ever see clear water.


As I read Clear Water, in my head I began to hear Springsteen’s Human Touch with it’s own distinctive gravelly-voiced demand for hope and change, it seemed a very appropriate anthem for the characters here. Once again Amy Lane has imagined some delightful people in this book, which are, as often is the case, a mixture of nonconformist individuals. However one of her main characters is both troubled and more than a little damaged.

Patrick spills from the page, a beguiling combination of Bambi on ice and a gay Mowgli with a twist of back chat that hurts with its revealing honesty. He is struggling valiantly with his ADHD, which he describes in ways which communicate his problems with absolute clarity. His behaviour in the story further illustrate his daily difficulties, phone throwing frustration, inattention, hyperactivity, clumsiness, are all added to both verbal and thought repeat loops. The first few poignant pages as Patrick interacts with his awful boyfriend and unbelievably insensitive father had my maternal instincts on military alert. Luckily this level of anxiety for such stomach clenching vulnerability disappeared when Whiskey appears in his life.

If Patrick reminded me a little of Mowgli then Whiskey is Balou, gruff, down to earth, patient and loving. A bisexual scientist living for his work in the field with his closest friend Fly Bait, another great personality. They have been friends for seventeen years, but have both reached a point of change in their lives. Irascible Fly Bait aka Freya has realised that she wants to settle down with her long term girlfriend. While itinerant Whiskey at thirty six is starting to look for a home. Enter Patrick, half drowned, generally befuddled but totally adorable. He wants to have a proper life; a little pharmaceutical help, yoga and discreet reminders could combine to allow him manage his behavioural difficulties. So that he can study, work and eventually have a career, no longer dependent on his beyond wealthy father Shawn.

Whiskey is the first person to listen to, understand and believe in Patrick. His long history of  truly awful boyfriends have all contributed to his lack of self esteem, which is at the level of ocean trenches. Patrick’s speech on the unpleasant intimacies of male gay sex which he inflicts on a mortified Fly Bait is very funny but not free of pathos. It becomes obvious that sex has been for him nothing more than some kind of bleak negotiation for any moment of affection. Lucky for Patrick—and us—he has very patient and totally gorgeous Whiskey to put it all to rights. This can only happen when Whiskey has got over his own misgivings about any such developments.

The relationship between them is beautifully evolved over quite a short period of time, but it felt totally understandable. It is also nicely established that for all Patrick’s problems, Whiskey needs him just as much. Moreover in the interests of balance, while Whiskey gets to play “goddamned hero” in the first part of the book, later it is Patrick’s physical strength and determination that helps save both Whiskey and his father. The plot development that sets this adventure up worked quite believably and added another level of intensity to their relationship. The six month separation of our hero’s is necessary in order to allow Patrick to reconcile his family life and for him to consolidate his successes away from Whiskey.

This book has all the qualities I enjoy about Amy Lane’s writing; there is a love of language, wordplay, extended metaphor generally concerning frog anomalies not abnormalities and great dialogue. Although I was amazed by her other recent release, mind blowing A Solid Core Of Alpha and would have given that five stars, they would somehow have been a very different five stars to those I think this one deserves. This fills all my criteria for a frequent comfort reread and they seem rare these days. Amy Lane often and eloquently deals with questions of friends as family in her books. In Clear Water she expands this to the concept of home—this, it appears with unashamed sentimentality, is where the heart is.




  • Thanks for the thoughtful and articulate review, Raine. I’ve added this to the top of my To Buy list – you can never have too many comfort reads and this sounds just right. :smile:

    • I hope you enjoy it as much as we all did kiracee.

      I’m finding good comfort reads harder to find at the moment. So this is a treat.

      Thanks for your comment. :smile:

  • I just loved this book! I adored Patrick and want a ‘Whiskey’ for myself! Who wouldn’t want such a smart guy to accept you as you are, love you unconditionally with patience and understanding like that.

    Beautiful story and it’s made its way to the top of the ‘best of Amy’ books for me.

    • Yes you are so right merith, Whiskey’s love for Patrick is totally unconditional. I really like it when Patrick was recognising Whiskey’s expressions……something like …..the face Whiskey makes when doesn’t know what to say…..the expression when he’s listening. Lovely intimacy between them.

      Making Promises is still my number one, but this has sneaked in at the two spot!

      • Isn’t it so hard to choose? I loved Making Promises as well… definitely one of my favorites – and my favorite of the series (so far). I love the series, but Promise Rock makes me want to cry just thinking about it and while I adored Living Promises, it didn’t quite have the winsomeness Making did.

        • I got so mad about the big misunderstanding in Promise Rock, that I nearly swore off the others…….am I glad I recanted! I agree with your order of preference too. :smile:

          Another sweet funny one I really enjoy is If I Must and the cover of that put me off for a while.

    • It is such a contrast to A Solid Core of Alpha and some of the others so I know what you mean hannah.

      It’s looking like everyone who has commented enjoyed this book.

  • Great review, Raine! I LOVED the book when I read it, but somehow I think I love it even more after reading your review. You didn’t say anything I didn’t already know (though the Bambi and Mowgli analogies sure hadn’t occurred to me :smile: ) but it’s like by verbalizing it, you crystallized it for me. Or something. I’m not feeling very articulate this morning (obviously!), but yeah, great review. 😀

    • Ok if thats not articulate I don’t know what is! Thank you very much jeayci.

      I felt very lucky to be reviewing this one and it is just so good that everyone who has commented really enjoyed it. :smile:

  • Wow, Raine– this totally made my day. I’m so glad you all enjoyed this one– I know I ADORED writing it. And I’m tickled that you enjoyed–and totally got–Patrick’s rant on sex. That was fun to write, but, like you pointed out, it was also hard, because Patrick really did deserve so much more than that. I think I may be revisiting these two characters–but only when I have a story that’s worthy:-) Thank you so much for reading my work (even Alpha, with girl cooties:-)

    • Thank you Amy. I had such a good time with this book. It was a pleasure to meet Patrick and Whiskey. :bravo:

    • The anomalous frogs……such an Amy Lane phrase…….and I loved how she related it with such tenderness to Patrick. Thanks Thorny.

  • Really enjoyed your review Raine. I’ve been looking forward to it all week as I absolutely loved everything about this book (in a could not put it down and ended up losing sleep kind of way). Amy Lane definitely has a way with creating unique, believable characters and the same goes for the dialogue between them. Patrick, Whiskey and Fly Bait will certainly be “re-visited” by me – instant add to my “favorites” folder :smile:

    • Thank you for such nice words Dianne. I lost sleep too – but over the review, the words just ran away from me and I struggled to sort them out this time. Usually when you love a book it’s simple to write about it!

      You know I really like the idea of a favourites folder, I just have all mine lumped in under the heading Josh Lanyon and friends… can see how I came to the genre…….and also am clearly not organised. Thanks. 😀

    • Sometimes it is just so good to have a book to sink back into, yes this one really does it for me too. Making Promises is another one of mine, I love Mickey. Thanks. :smile:

  • Great review. I love Amy Lane. She’s a goddess in my book. While there’s less angst in this one, Patrick still had me shedding tears every once in a while. Loved Patrick and how understanding Whiskey was.

    • Yes Patrick is a stand out creation, and those early scenes with Cal and his Dad were particularly hard.

      I am so lucky Cosmonaut, I’m reviewing the new Talker too. :happydance:

      Thank you.

  • Great review. I loved this book. I have a couple of Amy Lane books that I have yet to read due to their high angst level, but this one was just fab :smile:

    Btw, I thought A Solid Core of Alpha was great too. This one though was more light and sweet.

    • Hello Luci

      I haven’t read the fantasy series as I know major characters die and I’m a wuss. However like you I was so impressed by ASCOA, but I know I probably won’t reread it often if ever, parts of that book hurt!

      I was just so happy to enjoy this one and am really pleased you agree. Thanks.

  • What an awesome reviews and comparisons, Raine. I agree with LadyM, while Amy Lane is a great writer, I recently discovered that angst in some of her books was way beyond my tolerance level. This one was a perfection for me. Angst toned down, there was some lovely humor, Patrick was amazing. I loved that he was determined to improve his situation in life, not just going on and on for pages how sorry for himself he is. Really loved this one, thanks for the great review.

    • Yes, thanks Sirius, I wish I’d emphasized Patrick’s complete lack of self pity, his snarky comments were usually at his own expense.
      Some of them were just so funny too…..Amy Lane does great dialogue.

      So pleased you loved this one too. :wave:

  • I loved this book. Amy Lane is a great writer but not her every book is for me, usually because of the enormous amounts of angst. Clear Water was “Goldilocks” among her books for me – just right. 😀 Patrick and Whiskey were adorable, Fly Bait was a kind of female character I want to see more in M/M, even dear old dad got to redeem himself somewhat by the end.

    • Yes- great ” Goldilocks ” comment LadyM :flowers: thats how I felt too.

      Though I have to say I’m coping very well with even her more painful books these days….. :smile: To be honest I’m glad we didn’t see too much more of Fly Bait cos any sex and there wouldn’t have been a review…ok call me selfish. 😀

      • Heh, I coped perfectly well with her Solid core of alpha, which I thought was very dark (and very good). Pages and pages of internal melodramatic angst is what I am usually having trouble coping with. Oh yes, Fly bait was totaly awesome, but for your reviewing purposes I was happy there was no more of her :)

        • Just finished Solid Core of Alpha and really enjoyed it, a perfect balance of dark, relationship, angst, and overcoming.

          Clear Water is on Mt. TBR, doubt I’ll be able to resist long 😉 Besides good story lines, Ms. Lane has mad writing skills :god: I may not enjoy all her stories equally, but so far they are all good reads!

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