Welcome to our first week of celebrations for the amazing
In our first post, we'll take a look at the Promises series, as well as Amy's favorite things. Plus, there's a chance to win one of her books!
First up, Keeping Promise Rock
Carrick Francis has spent most of his life jumping into trouble with both feet. The only thing saving him from prison or worse is his absolute devotion to Deacon Winters. Deacon was Crick's sanity and salvation during a miserable, abusive childhood, and Crick would do anything to stay with him forever. So when Deacon's father dies, Crick puts his college plans on hold to help Deacon as Deacon has helped him.
Deacon's greatest wish is to see Crick escape his memories and the town they grew up in so Crick can enjoy a shining future. But after two years of growing feelings and temptation, the painfully shy Deacon finally succumbs to Crick's determined advances and admits he sees himself as part of Crick's life.
It nearly destroys Deacon when he discovers Crick has been waiting for him to push him away, just like Crick's family did in the past. When Crick's knack for volatile decisions lands him far away from home, Deacon is left, shell-shocked and alone, struggling to reforge his heart in a world where love with Crick is a promise, but by no means a certainty.
In Keeping Promise Rock, Crick Francis leaves for the military under DADT, and Deacon Winters is left to hold the fort at home. There are too many parts of this book that I really love to be able to post a single scene, so I thought I’d post the most romantic thing I could think of—a love letter from two people who aren’t supposed to be in love:
Crick— I know there’s the possibility that letters will get read when they shouldn’t, so burn this one if you have to. I’m forward to actually seeing you, even on the computer, but I’m afraid too.
Mostly I’m afraid all the shit in my heart is going to back up against my tongue and I’ll just stare at you, so damned glad you’re alive that the whole moment will be shot to hell. You need to know that I want to touch you. You need to know that I want to say a thousand things that are meaningless and perfect in your ear.
You need to know that I dream about your eyes and your crooked grin and that a thousand times a day I start a conversation with you about something stupid and I’m heartbroken when you’re not there to say your bit. You need to know I love you—I’m still mad, but I promised you I wouldn’t be mad when you get back, and I’m starting to think I can keep that one, so don’t worry about it.
I love you—that’s the important thing. I’d die for you, and it kills me that you’re in a place where you might die for your country and I can’t save you. I’m glad you’re hearing my voice in your head to keep you safe—I hear your voice in my head to keep me from losing my fucking mind.
You need to know all these things, and then you need to file them somewhere in your head for later. We’re not half done yet, baby. Neither of us will make it if we break our hearts the way we’ve been doing.
I need to live in the moment for Benny. You need to live in the moment for me.
When you get home, the floodgates will open and the flood will clear the pain and it will be just us, shiny and new, with our hands on each other’s skin and our bodies touching so tight we’ll be able to hear each other’s thoughts. When you get home we can be lovers. In the meantime, we’ll see each other on the computer and pretend to be like brothers.
Now that your CO has given his stamp of approval, we’ll text or ‘tweet’ (thanks, Benny) and we’ll talk in code like we’ve been doing, and you need to know that you are still loved. And you need to hold it close to your heart. There’s a reason you didn’t try to back out of your signature on the recruitment papers, and there’s a reason I didn’t try to make you. We need to hold to that—it’s who we are and it’s one of the reasons I think we can love each other through anything.
I know you’re homesick, Crick, because it doesn’t feel like home without you. Let’s just hold on so you can come back home in peace. (And, as off-topic as it may seem, I need to add that if you’re anything like me, you are hornier than a goat in the springtime. Just sayin’, in case you were worried about that end of things—don’t.)
Remember that song at Jon and Amy’s wedding? I need you, like I want you. Always and forever. I want you like I love you. Always and forever.
Consider that a promise.
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Second in the series, Making Promises
All Shane Perkins ever wanted to be was a hero. But after a career-shattering decision to go down fighting, Shane comes home from the hospital to four empty walls, a pile of money, and a burning desire for someone to miss him the next time he gets hurt in the line of duty. He ends up an officer in the small town of Levee Oaks, and, addicted to the promise of family, he makes an effort to reconcile with his flighty, troubled sister. Kimmy makes her living as a dancer, and her partner steals Shane's breath at first sight.
Mikhail Vasilyovitch Bayul dances like an angel, but his past is less than heavenly. Since he left Russia, he's made only two promises: to stay off the streets and stay clean, and to take his mother someplace beautiful before she dies. Making promises to anybody else is completely out of the question-but then, Mikhail has never met anybody like Shane. Earnest, brave, and self-deprecating, Shane seems to speak Mikhail's language, and no one is more surprised than Mikhail to find that keeping promises is Shane's best talent of all.
Ylena smiled, then looked up at her son and pulled at the brown scarf he’d wrapped around his neck.
“We are not in a blizzard here. I know why I feel as though I need more blankets—why are you wearing that when it must be eighty-five degrees?”
Mikhail blushed. “I… I simply grabbed it, out of habit. I….” Well, hell. It was his mother. Who would she tell? “I miss him is all.”
Ylena nodded. “Well, yes. I’m surprised you still have it, though. I keep forgetting he said he would not ask for it back that day.”
Mikhail frowned and wrapped his hands protectively (had he known it) around the brown wool. “What day?”
“You know—the day before he was hurt. He brought us both lunch? He went into your room to look, and when he did not find it, he said to forget it. He would not take the scarf away, since you liked it so much.”
Mikhail blinked. “I did not know he’d been in my room.” He tried to think—was there anything embarrassing? Incriminating? Anything that would scare him and drive him away?
The narrow shoulders, cloaked and wrapped even in the heat, lifted in a shrug, and Ylena curled her lip in dismissal. “What? He is going to steal from you? I do not think so. For one thing, you counted the money and there was more than enough. For another, this is Shane. Do not worry yourself, lubime. That man would not do a thing in the world that was not to make you happy.”
And that was when Mikhail knew. He sucked in a breath and tried to remember. The bills had been randomly stacked, as he’d kept them, more out of superstition than anything else. There hadn’t seemed to be any new ones, or any that seemed out of place. There had been an unusual number of bills that had been blue of all things, but since the dyes in the clothes at the Faire often ran, this didn’t seem unusual either. But still. Oh God—he had been so worried. So panicked. What if he did not keep his promise? What if this— this lovely interlude with his mother, this time to see her happy and unworried before she left him for good—what if this moment had not been possible?
But it had been possible. It had been possible because Shane had wanted it as badly for Mikhail as Mikhail had wanted it for himself.
For a moment, his pride reared its ugly head. For a moment, he contemplated picking up his phone and leaving a message he could never take back. But his mother reached out a hand and patted his thigh reassuringly, and it occurred to him: she had known. She must have known, or she would not have brought it up.
“You knew,” he said quietly.
“I guessed. I did not tell him I guessed, but I did. Your friend does not have a face made for hiding things
Mikhail had to laugh at that. He pictured very clearly the wonder and wanting that had been transparent on Shane’s face that day at the Faire as Mikhail had performed. How could Mikhail not single him out? Grab his hand? Make him a companion for a day and see who this tall, strong man with such a child’s heart could be? The subterfuge must have been agonizing.
“No,” he said to his mother now. “He has not a face for hiding things.” It was as Mikhail had said in the hospital: Shane had a heart as open as the clear blue sky. Mikhail would be damned if he was the fucker who shot an arrow into that and watched it rain blood—but he couldn’t ignore it, either.
When he made his phone call the next day, the rest of the ship— including his mother—were dressed gaily and eating an extraordinarily fattening meal in the dining room. Mikhail had been there for a time, enjoying watching his mother charm people with her still amazing smile and her new red dress and a blonde wig bought special for the occasion. There was no mistaking her illness or the ravages of it, but Ylena kept her face so very proud and pain-free when she was in a crowd. She had made many friends on this trip, as she had sat on deck “dying in style” as she called it, and Mikhail was proud to be able to leave her at the table, surrounded by people who would not leave her alone.
As he was leaving, she had put her hand on his arm and said, “Tell him hello for me, and thank him for me if not for yourself, yes, Mikhail Vasilyovitch?”
But of course he would tell Shane “Thank you.” He would make it clear that the gift was unnecessary, but he would say “Thank you.”
“Were you ever going to tell me?” he asked the phone abruptly, still at loss.
“Wasn’t planning on it.” Once again Mikhail had an impression of Shane in a darkened room, and he felt a sudden frustration that they could talk on the phone in a dark room but not in person. It felt supremely unfair that some of the best near-sex in his life had happened in a hallway and in the chair at work.
“How could you not?” And this is what bothered Mikhail the most. “You would just… just let me have this thing—this enormous gift—and not tell me it’s from you?”
Shane’s retort was irritated. “It’s not all from me, dammit! You’d made most of the money. It was your dream. It was your promise. It was your goddamned will. I just gave you a hand up the last of the hill. Is that so bad?”
“But I would have asked you!” Oh God. It was the truth. He had thought it—many times—before he counted his bills. He would have hated it, but he would have done it.
“You never would have forgiven me for that,” Shane said glumly, and Mikhail caught his breath.
“That is true,” he said unhappily. “God help me—that’s the truth. I would not have. And this… this, I can forgive. I have no choice.” He laughed softly, without humor. “Damn you, Shane—for a man who claims to have no grace, you have managed to waltz with a porcupine until the end of the song.”
There was a silence, and Mikhail wondered if he had finally given a metaphor that Shane could not follow, but he needn’t have worried. “Want to dance to another one?”
“Yes.” Mikhail swallowed, feeling as though he were looking at the edge of the void. “Yes.” He closed his eyes and jumped. “Would you like to hear the tune?”
“Springsteen?” Shane asked hopefully, and Mikhail had to laugh.
“Springsteen is too sad. How about U2?”
“I can live with that. What are the steps?”
“I want to be that man. The one your family calls when you are sick. The one who gets to see your house and the rail you just put on the porch and the big hole your insane dog has dug. I want them to see me at dinner at least once. I….” Oh God. His hands were sweating. He had to stop, or he would rabbit through the corridors of the ship until his heart failed from sheer fright at his own bravery. “I cannot promise tomorrow. I cannot promise next week. But as long as you still call me, as long as I know you will be there every Wednesday to bring me dinner, as long as you look forward to seeing me next, I want to be that man.”
Shane’s voice shook on the other line. “Okay,” he said quietly. “Okay. Abracadabra—you’re that guy. Dinner at Deacon’s, as soon as you get… as soon as you can. You can meet everybody. Benny can cook for you—she’s much better than I am. You’re that guy.”
“Are you going to be all right?” He didn’t sound all right. He sounded strained and stressed. There was a thump that sounded like a large body flopping ass-first on a floor.
“I’m sitting down,” Shane muttered. “I’m fine. Jesus, Mickey—I just didn’t think you’d ever have that much faith. Merry Christmas, Mikhail. Merry goddamned Christmas.”
Mikhail was sitting on the floor of the cabin too. “Merry Christmas to you, too, you persistent, irritating man. Can I give you a blowjob now?”
Shane giggled weakly into the phone. “Man, I might actually be up to phone sex—but I’m in Crick and Deacon’s bedroom, and that would just be awkward.”
“Da—I am in the cabin I share with Mutti. That might possibly be worse.”
“So what do we do now?”
Like Mikhail would know? This was like a butterfly pretending to be a horse. “Maybe you could tell me about your day?”
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Book three, Living Promises
Six years ago, Jeff Beachum comforted a frightened teenager outside an HIV treatment clinic, and Collin Waters has remembered his kindness ever since. Now, after six years of crushing on the kind, brown-eyed sweetheart of his dreams, Collin is feeling adult and together enough to make his move. Too bad fate, which has never been kind to Jeff, has something else in mind.
Jeff's life had fallen completely apart before that long-ago day, and it isn't much better now. Jeff has toughened up, become self-reliant, been the funny guy his friends turn to, the one who gives advice and comfort when needed. But every phantom from Jeff's past is about to come out to haunt him, and the family Jeff has staked his future on isn't in such great shape either. Collin is more than a starry-eyed kid, and it's a good thing, because Jeff's going to need all the help he can get. No one knows better than Jeff that life can be too short to turn your back on honest love, and that living happily is the best promise of all.
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And fourth in the series, Forever Promised
Crick has been home from Iraq for five years, Jeff and Collin are finally married, and Shane and Mikhail are quietly making lives better for the dispossessed teenagers who come their way. Everything is right in Deacon's world, but nothing ever stays the same.
When Deacon's best friends, Jon and Amy, answer the call of an opportunity in Washington, DC, Deacon figures that’s life. You love people, and they leave you, and you survive. Even Benny, Crick’s little sister, is close to grown and ready to start her own future. But Benny loves Deacon, and she owes him—she may move beyond The Pulpit and Levee Oaks one day, but not without leaving something of herself behind. And so she offers Deacon and Crick an amazing gift… and a terrifying decision.
Benny’s offer forces Deacon and Crick to dredge up every past mistake and offer of redemption. And not just the two of them—everybody is forced to examine the chances they've been given and the promises they've made. In a real family, a child is a promise, and to the men and women of Promise Rock, keeping that promise will change their lives forever.
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Amy's favorite things:
Chocolate, fizzy water, my asshole dogs, my clingy over-affectionate cat, yarn, more yarn, malabrigo yarn, merino yarn, alpaca yarn, swimming, new clothes coming in the mail, somebody else’s cooking, sleeping in, hearing my favorite song on the radio and not because I called it up on Spotify or iTunes, purple, magenta, green, and brown—especially in the same yarn, watching old favorite movies again and again, watching my husband watch something that makes him laugh, talking to my kids in the car, word play, steak, the ocean in Monterey, writing in a hotel room with room service, my husband’s hand on the back of my neck, a slow walk without a deadline
About Amy Lane:
Amy Lane has kids, cats, a computer and an indeterminate number of Chi-who-whats at large. She lives in a crumbling crapmansion with most of the children and a bemused spouse. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and gay romance--and if you accidentally make eye contact, she'll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She'll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write.
Thanks for celebrating with us. Come back next week for more of Amy's book, and five little-known facts, plus another chance to win!
Until then, happy reading!