Author: Amy Lane
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: April 16, 2016
Page Count: 400
Reviewed by: Renée
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
One year ago, actor Connor Montgomery lost the love of his life to a drunk driver. But what’s worse for Connor is what he still has: a lifetime of secrets born of hiding his relationship from the glare of Hollywood. Unable to let go of the world he and Vinnie shared, Connor films a drunken YouTube confession on the anniversary of Vinnie’s death.
Thankfully, the video was silent—a familiar state for Connor—so his secret is still safe. He needs a fresh start, and a new role on the hit TV show Wolf’s Landing might be just that.
The move to Bluewater Bay may also mean a second chance in the form of his studio-assigned assistant. Noah Dakers sees through Connor’s facades more quickly than Connor could imagine. Noah’s quiet strength and sarcastic companionship offers Connor a chance at love that Hollywood’s closet has never allowed. But to accept it, Connor must let Vinnie go and learn to live again.
“…it hurts. Everything is something he won’t hear or see, and I want to tell it to him, and there’s no space in my head for me because it’s all about telling Vinnie-“
This book is a subtle punch in the gut. It’s not the “angst and pain, Amy Lane” that the author is famous for, but it’s not the light Candy Man-type either. It’s somewhere in the middle, but it’s heartbreakingly beautiful, and I shut down my Kindle as I finished with a loud Sigh.
I think I went through the entire gamut of emotions while reading. Happy, sad, content, devastated, ragey, frustrated, sympathetic, impatient……..you name it, I felt it at one point while reading Conner and Noah’s story. And that is Lane’s secret. She makes you FEEL.
Conner is grieving a year after his boyfriend of 10 years died. They were both Hollywood stars, and his boyfriend, Vinnie, was afraid to lose his family. So they never came out. No one knew but them and a single friend-agent of theirs.
Conner is broken.
He puts on the act (easy for an actor to do), but he is a shell of a man. He still lives in the house next door to Vinnie’s house. Grieving isn’t a strong enough a word to describe his day to day existence. He is shattered, and no one can offer him support because no one knows.
After an alcohol-induced rant on YouTube, his agent convinces him to move away for a while and work a new TV show. It’s in his new city that he meets Noah. Noah is strong, he’s out, he’s someone who sees right inside of Conner from day 1. He can tell he’s acting. He can tell he’s hurting. And he does everything he can to BE THERE for Conner in any sense he needs.
“He’s everything Vinnie wasn’t,” she said, and I sucked in a razor-blade breath.
“What did you-”
“You know it’s true,” she retorted. “He’s strong, he’s self-sufficient, there’s not a vain bone in his body. He would make you first, and honey, Vinnie couldn’t do that. Not ever.”
Conner recognizes the amazingness of Noah. And he’s attracted – Holy Hell, is he attracted – and he wants SO MUCH what Noah is offering.
But, see, Conner is in this awful place. He holds full conversations with Vinnie in his head. This was one of Vinnie’s comments to Conner during a conversation:
I can’t believe you miss me either. I almost ruined your career twice, I was unfaithful, I didn’t have the balls to come out to my family or the press – I can’t believe you loved me at all!
And this is where my frustrations kicked in. For both MCs. Conner comes across as selfish in his treatment of Noah. I felt for him – I really did. Lane paints the grief as if you’re living it yourself. BUT you can’t be reckless with the hearts of others. You can’t be blind to what they’re feeling because you need to make it all about you and your sadness.
And Noah – God, he frustrated me so much too. He saw the broken man who wasn’t ready to make his own sandwich, much less make a new relationship work. But he went after him anyway. Full on. No minor flirting, no just kissing. Full on relationship mode from the beginning. So each time he was hurting because of not feeling as “adequate” or as “wonderful” as Saint Vinnie, I couldn’t summon the sympathy for him. All I kept thinking was: You made your bed, buddy. You picked out the color scheme and thread count with immaculate precision, as a matter of fact.
So we have TWO broken MCs, and I was screaming at them both in my head for some of the book. But then Lane does her thing and weaves the pieces of them back together. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t like a light switch. It was expertly written, as we all know Lane does effortlessly.
He was the real deal. He’d given me everything he had to make sure I knew I could lean on him for strength – and then relaxed and hoped I’d take it when I needed it.
Oh, little did he know.
I always needed it.
This is NOT light and fluffy Lane. This will leave you with a book hangover – I’m still reeling after finishing it. But we do get a beautiful HEA that is well-deserved. It’s earned with every heartbreaking thought, breath, touch, and word.
“You have like…an iceberg of damage in you, and you keep trying to think it’s all fine, but I keep wrecking myself on bigger and bigger pieces.”
“I fixed it for me, and that’s going to have to be what’s right.