Title: Fall Through Spring (Winter Ball #3)
Author: Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: December 3, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 252
Reviewed by: Valerie
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 2 stars out of 5
As far as Clay Carpenter is concerned, his abusive relationship with food is the best thing he’s got going. When a good friend starts kicking his ass into gear, Clay is forced to reexamine everything he learned about food and love—and that’s right when he meets troubled graduate student, Dane Hayes.
Dane Hayes doesn’t do the whole monogamy thing, but the minute he meets Clay Carpenter, he’s doing the friend thing in spades. The snarky, scruffy bastard not only gets Dane’s wacky sense of humor, he also accepts the things Dane can’t control—like the bipolar disorder Dane has been trying to manage for the past six years.
Dane is hoping for more than friendship, and Clay is looking at him with longing that isn’t platonic. They’re both positive they’re bad at relationships, but with the help of forbidden desserts and new medication regimens, they prove outstanding at being with each other. But can they turn their friendship into the love neither of them has dared to hope for?
Oy vey. This might be a very unpopular review because a lot of readers love Amy Lane. As do I. But I did not love this book. My all-time favorite MM romance, Beneath the Stain, was written by Amy, which makes it all the more difficult to say that Fall Through Spring was painfully boring.
I was quite looking forward to reading about main characters with bipolar disorder and overeating/weight issues. I have close family members with both conditions and I think Amy did a very good job portraying the realities of both; this is the one area where the book excelled. The upswing, crashes, depression, irresponsibility, forgetting or refusing to take medication, feeling dependent on drugs that make your life bland, hyper-sexuality, and an inability to function are all accurate features of bipolar. I’m most pleased with how Amy characterized bipolar as having a far-reaching effect on the sufferer’s loved ones the way it did Dane’s brother Mason, his friend/boyfriend Carpenter, his parents, and other friends. The patience and devotion Mason and Carpenter exhibited for Dane was remarkable; I don’t think he could’ve survived without it.
I’m living at home at thirty. I mean, I’m living with my brother, but that’s because my parents are getting older and I’m exhausting them. If I didn’t have …these people in my life, I’d be in a care center, or homeless – I know this Clay. I know this.
Carpenter’s battle with food issues was likewise handled well, showing how his weight problem was always on his mind, all day, every day. Food was his obsession.
Clay Alexander Carpenter was the first to admit it – his first love was a chocolate chip cookie … the chocolate chip cookie never let him down.
He fretted over what he could eat, if he had to exercise, if his clothes fit and did they look okay, and his family harping on his weight. Amy mentioned the eight different sizes of clothing in his closet and that body image was always on Carpenter’s mind. Like Dane, he also had a solid support system in his best friend Skipper and Skipper’s boyfriend, Richie, and Dane, who all helped him make better food choices. Skipper, Richie, and Mason were all very likable, compelling characters, (and starred in books one and two of this series), whereas the MCs were not, and therein lies the problem with Fall Through Spring.
The book has no plot, which is fine – I enjoy character driven stories. But you need interesting, well-developed, captivating main characters and on this Amy did not deliver. Carpenter and Dane were mundane, both insecure, and Dane was whiny and broody. I was not invested in either. The secondary characters were much more enjoyable.
Something I found to be odd is that Fall Through Spring runs concurrently with book two in the series. They are on the same timeline, and cover many of the same events, but are told in different points of view. There are even some of the same lines in both books.
I first considered DNFing somewhere around 20%. It was so slooow and boring and got confusing with extraneous stories about soccer buddies. It drove me crazy how Amy switched between calling Carpenter by both his last name and first name, Clay, sometimes in the same sentence.
By 80%, the pace had yet to pick up, the story didn’t get more interesting, and the whining and insecurity became more pervasive. I was skimming everything, even the sex which felt inorganic to me. The urge to bail was overpowering but I figured I could push through the last 20%.
The book ended on a positive note with Dane realizing Mason needed him, too (through a break up), and Skip and Richie needed him when he helped them with house projects. It was so important for Dane to feel useful.
Having people mattered. Having people made you a better person.
The best I can say is that the book portrays bipolar disorder and overeating admirably, and the book is inoffensive, just interminable. I still love Any Lane and will read her future books; this was just not for me, and I do not recommend it.