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Friday, March 17, 2017

Beneath the Stain by Amy Lane

I'm not sure what I was expecting but it wasn't this. I knew this book would be ANGST GALORE - be prepared if this is the route you wanna go. I actually enjoy these kind of books once in awhile, and I'm saying - once in awhile - because I used to be all about the angst, and not even in a romance novel, in a drama one where there's no HEA promised. I might getting more sentimental with old age needing to be reassured that it will work out in the end ;)

This is Mackey's story, it's also Mackey and Trav's finding love together but it's also the story of the Sanders brothers who made "Outbreak Monkey" the band who started with Mackey being bored, looking for something he can do with his brothers and two of their closest friends (Grant and Stevie) in the small town of Tyson. See, the Sanders brothers were dirt poor, and their mother being a single mom to four kids from four different fathers meant they had their (bad) reputation and so they had to stick together and help themselves and their mother in order to survive. 

Grant Adams, Kell's best friend (the oldest of the Sanders brothers) comes from the other side of town, his family is wealthy and yet he was always escaping to spend time with the Sanders. It started with Kell, but when he was 17, and Mackey only 14 they shared a kiss. From there a closeted romance started, one that lasted 5 years until Grant finally got "Outbreak Monkey" a chance to be signed and make their rockstar dreams come true. Yet when it was all said and done instead of joining the guys he left them behind breaking everyone's hearts but mostly Mackey who fell into drugs soon after. 

A year later, the guys are swimming in money yet they are all shattered in their own way. That's where Trav comes in as the band's new manager. First thing he does is put Mackey (and the new guitarist replacing Grant) in rehab. From there he does his best to clean EVERYONE's act and make them not just a family - a functioning one and so lies and unspoken truths slowly starts to come out bringing them even closer together.

It's a bumpy road, for everyone, but mostly to Mackey who was afraid to come out of the closet, to admit to what he shared with Grant, to put the mask aside and show how much he is broken and how much he is scared no one will love him once they see what's inside. Trav being the front row to all of that fall in love with the super talented yet rebellious and tormented singer / songwriter / player and Mackey isn't far behind. Trav is everyone's savior but he is mostly his. Having Trav there every step of the way, exactly how Grant wasn't, wanting a real relationship, one he doesn't hide, makes Mackey long to be well, to put his addictions and fears behind. 

Mackey is the sort of guy everyone loves and adores, mostly for his talent, for the "free spirit" he seems to be, even though he is VERY annoying and loves getting on everyone's nerves. Trav is enamoured by this mythical creature, so talented, so vivid and yet so in need of protection and care. I've got to admit I failed to see his charm which hurt my overall feel of the book. He was too childish at times, too quick to yell, to overreact. I wasn't impressed and so I found it very hard to connect with his character. That's most of the reason why this book only gets 4 stars (the other being it was too damn long..). Also, st times, I found it difficult to understand Trav. He was at odds with everything I expected a veteran to be. Too sensitive, too emotional, at times even extremely soft, prone to tears. I want to believe there are veterans out there who weren't hardened by war, but I believe most would be. He was everything Machey needed - someone to cherish him, to protect him, but also let him be who he wants to be. I had a lot of respect for Trav, especially for putting himself "out there" while he most likely would have gotten heart broken. Loving an addict isn't easy and sometimes it just doesn't work out when the drug is more appealing than the guy standing beyond them. 

This book was originally published in 7 parts, now sold as a whole novel. I think because of that, because every part needed to be a "whole part" of the story when combined together we get a very long and angst loaded book. In every part we needed to see Mackey and his family almost shatter, dreams being made and broken apart when their past bubbles up to the surface. There were times it was simply an overload of detail. I was flooded with the guys' life, their close and yet complicated connection, the front they put on, yet the hurt they kept inside, who they were on stage to who they were when the lights went out. I know because of the way the story was built we technically needed those parts, but for me it made the book too damn long and very difficult to read in one sitting, or rather, difficult to read big portions at one time. It wasn't a book I gulped, it was a book I struggled to finish and yet it WAS a good book. When it was all said and done I was glad I got Mackey and Trav's love story but also the other guys as well, seeing almost all of them find at least a HFN. A better life for sure even if they had to leave someone behind to get there. I guess a rounded up kind of 4 stars rating. 

This book dealt with a LOT of difficult situations and details. Drug addiction, rape and sexual abuse, but also issues of coming of age - coming out of the closet, dealing with dysfunctioning and at times abusive families. Finding love and acceptance through trust. Yeah, it was a bit of an overload of angst and life falling apart before it can be assembled together. Recommended for the rockstar at heart, and anyone who needs to wallow in heavy emotions. It was a bit too much for me, but as always from Amy it was well written and felt genuine even if it also meant I had a hard time with Mackey. It was a unique story, a heartbreaking one. The price of fame, the price of secrets and what it truly means to leave someone dear behind.  

Read on:
13-17 Mar-2017


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