Saturday, April 16, 2016

Selfie (Bluewater Bay 13) by Amy Lane

One year ago, actor Connor Montgomery lost the love of his life to a drunk driver. But what’s worse for Connor is what he still has: a lifetime of secrets born of hiding his relationship from the glare of Hollywood. Unable to let go of the world he and Vinnie shared, Connor films a drunken YouTube confession on the anniversary of Vinnie’s death.

Thankfully, the video was silent—a familiar state for Connor—so his secret is still safe. He needs a fresh start, and a new role on the hit TV show Wolf’s Landing might be just that.

The move to Bluewater Bay may also mean a second chance in the form of his studio-assigned assistant. Noah Dakers sees through Connor’s facades more quickly than Connor could imagine. Noah’s quiet strength and sarcastic companionship offers Connor a chance at love that Hollywood’s closet has never allowed. But to accept it, Connor must let Vinnie go and learn to live again.

Dani's rating:

This is a story about grief.

And a story about healing

It's a story about losing love, and finding it.

Have you ever written in the sand? You think that first wave is going to just eliminate everything, but it doesn’t. No—there’s scar tissue on an ephemeral tablet, little bumps and ridges and reminders that there was something important there, and just because it’s gone now doesn’t mean it didn’t exist.

When Connor Montgomery, action movie star, loses Vinnie, his lover of ten years, in a tragic accident, he has to hide his pain. Because you don't grieve for a friend, even a best friend, the same way you grieve for your partner, you first love, your ... everything. Drunk and utterly bereft, Connor launches a video selfie that could ruin his career and out him in the process.

Connor's agent Jilly is adamant that he needs a change of scenery, so Connor moves to Bluewater Bay and takes a role playing a morally questionable character on Wolf's Landing.

But Connor isn’t a bad guy; he’s the good guy. Connor saved Vinnie when Vinnie was hooked on pain meds, quit a promising series to take Vinnie to rehab, forgave Vinnie's many infidelities.

The first man Connor meets in Bluewater Bay is his driver, Noah, tenderhearted Noah, with his quick wit and dominant streak, who sees right through Connor’s false smiles and self-deprecating humour. Noah is part African-American, part Native American, long and lean, with glossy curls and graceful lines. He gets Connor’s vulnerability and loneliness.

Like in many of Amy Lane's books, there's a strong focus on family here: Vinnie's family from whom he hid himself and his lover; Connor's family who would sell their son’s secret to the highest bidder; Noah's family, warm and hardworking and present.

The secondary characters are nuanced and carefully sketched: Jilly, Connor and Vinnie’s fearless manager, who has a big heart and the best intentions, and can admit she was wrong about urging Connor and Vinnie to remain in the closet; Noah’s mom, manipulative and flighty, not cut out to settle down and raise children; Viv, Noah’s smart and tenacious sister, who warns Connor that Noah is a vain fucker capable of cooking side dishes and nothing else.

While Connor and Noah form an instant bond tinged with sexual longing, Connor isn’t ready for more. He wants Noah. He NEEDS Noah to stay. But he’s still in a relationship with his dead lover.

Across the bay from Connor’s home in Bluewater is an island that becomes a symbol of everything Connor lost. When Connor talks to Vinnie, he goes to the island. The island is a place where Vinnie is alive in his blue house with all their good memories, kitschy collectibles, and cheesy T-shirt collection.

Connor has some serious healing to do, and Noah just wants to know that there's room for him in Connor's life. Because Connor is the first-person narrator of this story, we are privy to his struggles, his desire to come out and live an honest life, his rage at Vinnie for leaving him, his overwhelming love for Noah.

This book is BIG: it turns you inside out and makes you hurt. But I trust Amy Lane to pick up the pieces after she's done and make something beautiful in the process ... not easy, mind you, but worthwhile.

Despite the angst, there are moments of pure sweetness and raw, passionate sex. Connor wakes up from a sexual dormancy and wants everything Noah has to offer. Noah, who is 25 to Connor’s 30, wants to fill Connor, crack him open, take charge, and take away the pain. Noah and Connor go at it hard and fast with paddles, handcuffs, and plugs.

To Connor, Noah is power and protection; he’s musk and dark rum and “sex appeal that thrummed like an electric current under the surface.”

Selfie is a brilliant story, sharp, emotive, REAL. It left me feeling shattered and HOPEFUL and wanting more.

Tomorrow I would wake up and go play somebody else, and I loved doing that ... But tonight, in the sweet and holy darkness, I was skin to skin with my lover, and I was myself, and I was blessed, more than blessed ... It was what living was all about.

Get the book:


I was born with a reading list I will never finish. 
~Maud Casey

An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Download links are provided as a courtesy and do not constitute an endorsement of or affiliation with the book, author, publisher, or website listed.

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