Chase Summers: Golden boy. Beautiful girlfriend, good friends, and a promising future.
Nobody knows the real Chase.
Chase Summers has a razor blade to his wrist and the smell of his lover’s goodbye clinging to his skin. He has a door in his heart so frightening he’d rather die than open it, and the lies he’s used to block it shut are thinning with every forbidden touch. Chase has spent his entire life unraveling, and his decision to set his sexuality free in secret has only torn his mind apart faster.
Chase has one chance for true love and salvation. He may have met Tommy Halloran in the world of gay-for-pay—where the number of lovers doesn’t matter as long as the come-shot’s good—but if he wants the healing that Tommy’s love has to offer, he’ll need the courage to leave the shadows for the sunlight. That may be too much to ask from a man who’s spent his entire life hiding his true self. Chase knows all too well that the only things thriving in a heart’s darkness are the bitter personal demons that love to watch us bleed.
Wow. Okay. First, if you haven’t read an Amy Lane book and you are starting with this series – take heed and have plenty of tissues on hand!
Amy can write fantastical fantasy with crazy and sometimes funny figures, she can write humorous contemporary romance with quirky and quant characters, and she can write heart-wrenching, gut-twisting, hanky-shredding, angst-filled stories that rip your heart out and make it bleed.
This is that last kind.
But – and this is HUGE – she gives you a tremendous pay out. This is important. In her stories she will absolutely drag your heart out through your nostrils but then she mends it, patches it up, and fluffs it with so much caring and tenderness and purely sweet and luscious goodness that when it goes back into your chest (usually at the end) it feels so much better than when you started.
In this series we have Johnnie (who we hear from in his own story Black John) a director of gay pornography. He runs a respectable shop, no taking advantage of the models, clean, safe, etcetera – but it’s porn. Now it’s often called gay for pay, but the so-called straight guys… not always so straight.
That’s where Chase comes in. Chase is gay but he “can’t be”. He has had a horrible childhood – one where he sees his own mother’s suicide and lives with a father who somehow blames Chase for her death.
He turns to porn to make money, though he has a girlfriend he “loves” and wants to be with. He takes on the name Chance and finds his true home with Johnnies.
There Chance meets Tango. Tango is really Tommy, and Tango/Tommy has no problem being gay. They hook up and find an immediate love connection. But Tommy can’t take it that Chase continues to stay with the girlfriend and internalizes his own pain with a horrible eating disorder.
(I warned you – Angst. City.)
We know from early on in the story that Chase attempts suicide. The story explains the whys and the hows and then the what happens next.
Mercy, Chase’s girlfriend is not particularly vilified – although her decision at the end strikes me as not necessarily in line with the rest of her persona and is particularly harsh given the circumstances.
Chase and Tommy are a match made in heaven – both kinda screwed up but oh so passionate. It’s wonderful to watch them fall in love and it was absolutely horrible to watch each of them fall apart as a result of this love.
We also get to meet the cast of characters that fill the coming books and that, too, is fascinating.
I really loved how Amy was able to really get into Chase’s head and show us that in his mind he had NO CHOICE but to do what he did but then – at the last frickin’ moment – it all got so clear for him.
The time spent in the psych ward was hard to read and maybe drug a bit, but I think it helped to really cement the huge change in direction that occurred in Chase’s thinking.
Like I said at the beginning – Amy knows how to bring on the Angst (with a capital A) – but she also brings you back down with an incredible happy ending – one that we get to see develop in the next books even more.
I absolutely love this book, this series and the author. (FWIW this is my second favorite book in the series – Dex is my favorite – but they are all so dang good!)
Sean Crisden is a master! I love all his narrations and this was one of the first I’d listened to. He makes a point of keeping all the various characters separate which is a huge undertaking in this series. We end up with a total of 4 couples and lots of side characters and they all are voiced somewhat differently. So giant Kudos there! He also has a way of making the emotion feel so authentic. He does “perform” the stories – not merely read them.
6 of 5 stars