Title: Paint It Black (Beneath the Stain #2)
Author: Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: August 13th 2019
Page Count: 496
Reviewed by: Ele
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Everybody thinks Mackey Sanders’s Outbreak Monkey is the last coming of Rock ’n’ Roll Jesus, but Cheever Sanders can’t wait to make a name for himself where nobody expects him to fill his famous brothers’ shoes. He’s tired of living in their shadow.
Blake Manning has been one of Outbreak Monkey’s lead guitarists for ten years. He got this gig on luck and love, not talent. So hearing that Cheever is blowing through Outbreak Monkey’s hard-earned money in an epic stretch of partying pisses him off.
Blake shows up at Cheever’s nonstop orgy to enforce some rules, but instead of a jaded punk, he finds a lost boy as talented at painting as Mackey is at song-making, and terrified to let anybody see the real him. Childhood abuse and a suicide attempt left Cheever on the edge of survival—a place Blake knows all too well.
Both men have to make peace with being second banana in the public eye. Can they find the magic of coming absolute first with each other?
Maybe it’s not fair to compare a book to its predecessor but it’s just impossible to not compare Paint it Black to the masterpiece that was Beneath The Stain. Not just because it’s the same series but because A) a lot of scenes overlap with the first book, and B) the characters of the first book play such a big role here and get so much page time, it’s easy to forget that they’re not the actual MCs.
The first 40% is packed with A LOT of angst. Not relationship angst, but the kind that makes you crave a drink or ten. Abuse, rape, addiction, overdosing, suicide attempt…it’s all there on page. Heed the trigger warnings!
For me Paint it Black was a good book that reminded me of the good old Amy Lane. Long-ish but didn’t bore me at all. There was a good amount of angst (not heart wrenching, mind you) and an even bigger mount of feels. The steamy scenes were super hot and emotional and like in all Lane’s books the sense of family is very strong. And that was all…Nothing really special.
I’m definitely going to be the minority with this one so I’ll just go straight to what did not work for me to keep this helpful.
There were three things in the book that, after a certain point, started to feel annoying:
First, it was Blake’s constant tendency to put himself down. “You’re too good for me”, “I don’t deserve you”, “you’ll wake up one day and leave me”, “you’ll get better and realize I’m damaged goods and you’ll break up with me”…. Phrases like this became his motto until the end and, honestly, this is where most of the conflict kept coming from. I got it at first, but later on it became just an excuse and irritated me.
Second, I understand that Cheever had been horrible to his family while he was growing up but I didn’t feel like this family was really supportive of him after they learnt about his abuse. By that I specifically mean his brothers who, instead of a heart to heart conversation about forgiveness and support, kept telling him that they’re worried about him hurting Blake, not the other way around. This right here is very indicative:
“You talk to her about Blake?”
“Am I supposed to? She was like the rest of you all. I was like, ‘Yay! Great guy! Seems to like me!’ And you all were like, ‘Don’t break Blake!’”
He felt the same helpless frustration building up behind his eyes.”
Third, the villain. Not only there was no real penance, but his reaction when Cheever and the others confronted him all these years later was super weird to me. That’s all I’ll say so that I won’t spoil everything.
If you loved the first book I suggest you go for it. I struggled with my rating but I’m rounding up to four stars because Paint it Black brought me back to a universe that I really loved.