Review: Amy Lane – Bonfires

51snMybAVALAuthor: Amy Lane
Reviewer: Barb
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Summary:

Ten years ago Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron George lost his wife and moved to Colton, hoping growing up in a small town would be better for his children. He’s gotten to know his community, including Mr. Larkin, the bouncy, funny science teacher. But when Larx is dragged unwillingly into administration, he stops coaching the track team and starts running alone. Aaron—who thought life began and ended with his kids—is distracted by a glistening chest and a principal running on a dangerous road.

Larx has been living for his kids too—and for his students at Colton High. He’s not ready to be charmed by Aaron, but when they start running together, he comes to appreciate the deputy’s steadiness, humor, and complete understanding of Larx’s priorities. Children first, job second, his own interests a sad last.

It only takes one kiss for two men approaching fifty to start acting like teenagers in love, even amid all the responsibilities they shoulder. Then an act of violence puts their burgeoning relationship on hold. The adult responsibilities they’ve embraced are now instrumental in keeping their town from exploding. When things come to a head, they realize their newly forged family might be what keeps the world from spinning out of control.

Review:

Oh my! This was 280 pages of rockin’ goodness! Add in older MCs and a mystery thriller complete with action and danger, and I was a goner. I had to drop everything else I was doing so that I could get to the end of this amazing story. Thank you, Amy Lane, for addressing the issues faced by older men and their ability to enjoy all the benefits of a full romance and love life.

Sheriff Aaron George is a widower of ten years with two older girls who are now away in college and a son, Kirby, now a high school senior, who is bright, witty, and a sweetheart. He’s taking an AP class first thing each morning that happens to be taught by Principal Larkin. Larx is a divorced dad raising his daughters, one of whom is older and one Kirby’s age, and he’s struggling to keep teaching that one class amid the mounds of administrative paperwork that comes with being a principal.

Both men are bisexual, and whereas Larx had plenty of experience in his younger years, Aaron has never been with a man. But seeing a sweaty, shirtless Larx as he jogs past Aaron’s patrol car every day has convinced him that his libido is still alive. When he finally finds an excuse to approach the tall, lanky principal, he’s surprises himself by offering to join Larx every day if Larx will run in the mornings on a path that’s much safer and less likely to get him killed by a reckless driver.

Thus begins the early steps toward romance for these two men in their late forties. In Amy Lane’s inimitable style, their graying hair, long-dormant libidos, their parental skills, and issues related to being single dads are all interwoven into a warm and wonderful discovery that love can come at any age. But there’s also a dark side to this story that is set up as a subplot surrounding two high school football players—best friends who decide to come out at the traditional school bonfire after the homecoming dance. I loved the way the author wove in the dangers of bullying and the still existing prejudices in small town America with the potential dangers faced by persons in authority every day—whether they be police officers or educators. Oh, and add in a murder mystery too! All the elements of an exciting, yet heartwarming story.

Without giving away too many details, I simply must comment on what will likely be my all-time favorite quandary faced by a main character. When Larx and Aaron finally get time alone together without the kids or other demands on their time, Larx is afraid to come out of the bathroom. Why?
“I have gray in my pubes,” Larx said, and Aaron stifled a laugh on his bicep. “My pubes, Arron. I haven’t looked at them in seven years and they grew gray without me.”
Those of you under forty-five may not get this, but this old lady laughed so hard I couldn’t catch my breath! OMG! Too priceless. And that’s just one tiny scene in a whole book full of drama and romance.

Love you, Amy Lane! This is a book I can happily highly recommend.

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