Beneath the Stain

Beneath the Stain - Amy Lane Oh, this book. Amy Lane has a reputation for angsty feelz books. I have a hit and miss relationship with these books. Some break my heart, make me cry and laugh, and end in book hangover. Some feel long and leave me barely interested in the characters. Beneath the Stain is the former. So many feelings. This book had me crying at 2am.

Mackey is a musical savant. As a young boy, Mackey pulls together his brothers and their best friends into a band. He organizes them, writes the music, and leads the band. He’s the youngest and still manages to be the caretaker. The first chunk of the book focuses on his adolescence and relationship with Grant, his older brother’s best friend. (Hello, trope love!) I was cheering for a Mackey&Grant HEA for quite a while.

And then the book zigged when I thought it would zag, and my heart broke into tinier* pieces. The band becomes an epic success, nearly at the cost of Mackey’s life. Things take a dark path, and we meet Trav just about when Mackey hits rock bottom.

Trav’s arrival is fortuitous (naturally), but this is where I had a few niggles. It’s hard for me to believe Mackey could spiral so very far down without his family intervening. There’s a good effort by the author to sell the situation. It had some believability and rock star cliché to lend credence. That said, Mackey is still the baby of the family (on tour), and it’s difficult to wrap my head around them letting him fall SO FAR.

Trav is his angel. Not without flaws, but that man made me feel all the happy. He’s sweet and badass. He’s easily embarrassed by the sex talk, and omgosh endearing. But did I mention he’s also a badass? So much. He’s going to whip these boys into shape. There’s one moment, just one, that was incredibly upsetting with Trav. He’s super remorseful and all is forgiven, but it’s a violence theme I get frustrated by in m/m. I think his regret is real enough to help the reader move on. That said, I’d prefer authors stop thinking violence between men in a relationship is somehow more acceptable than in a m/f romance. It’s all partner violence, and let’s not condone it.

*steps off of soap box*

The last bit of the book has the boys returning to their roots. The reasons are spoilery, so I’ll leave it at super-duper-sobbing-at-2am sadness and let you read it. Because you want to read this book. It’s a bit long and there are slow parts. But it’s worth getting through all that for the mega-super-feelz.

*I say tinier, because nearly every moment of Mackey’s early life is heartbreaking. This book is not for the easily bruised souls. Unless those souls are looking for the eventual HEA. Because it’s worth the ride. I promise.

Review originally posted at Romance Novel News.