Friday, March 24, 2017

ARC Review: Bonfires by Amy Lane

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.

Dani's rating:

When I first read the blurb for Bonfires I worried about the ex-factor: baby mama drama is definitely not my thing. But I needn't have worried. Melodrama isn't Amy Lane's thing either.

This book is about family. It's about secrets people keep. It's about rich, spoiled girls expecting the world to worship at their feet. It's about power and bigotry.

But it's also about falling in love when you're pushing 50 and nearly ready to give up on romance.

Aaron has known Larx for years. Larx taught both of his daughters and is currently teaching his son. Larx is a teacher at heart, but he was dragged kicking and screaming to serve as principal of the local high school. Aaron is a deputy, so he's around.

Aaron and Larx whisper words of endearment and exchange wild kisses within days of Aaron seeing Larx running without a shirt. Aaron has seen Larx, but he's never SEEN Larx. Shirtless, sweaty Larx is a sight to behold, and Aaron's brain (and dick) go ZING.

"No. Absolutely not. I didn't do porn when I was married, didn't do it when I was single, won't do it now."

And now Larx's eyes widened . . . "Well, that's just disappointing. It's a flaw. I've finally found a flaw. Doesn't like porn. However shall we get along now?

Aaron chuckled and kissed him . . . "We'll have to have so much sex you don't even miss porn," he said decisively.

. . . "You just sealed your doom, Deputy—you have no idea how much sex it would take me to forget about sex!"

Both men have grown kids. One of Aaron's daughters is selfish and moody, but his son Kirby is like the best kid ever, as is Larx's youngest daughter, Christiana. Life and kids don't go away because you fall in love, but there's enough love to go around. The men become a makeshift family, bringing another teenager, Kellan, into their fold.

The romance isn't the sole focus of this book. There's a mystery, a stabbing, and a murder investigation. There's hatred and homophobia. But incredibly enough, the plot never feels overwrought.

Bigotry exists. Kids bring guns to school. Homophobia is rampant in some small towns. People hide behind money. That isn't drama; sadly, it's real life (especially in modern-day America, the land of bullies and ignorance).

I absolutely ADORED the secondary character in Bonfires. I already mentioned the kids, but Yoshi, Larx's friend and vice principal, was pretty damn great; the banter between him and Larx was hilarious. I also loved Kellan and Isaiah, two football players in love, who have a story of their own (that story doesn't end well here, but it's not over).

The ending is a HEA. Not everything is tied up in a neat, little bow, and the men have a surprise on the way, but they don't doubt their commitment. Despite the tension and external angst, Aaron and Larx's relationship is steel enforced; they're not going anywhere.

Bonfires is Amy Lane at her best: banter, community bonding, hot-as-fuck sex (the last scene on the couch is INSANE; I dare you to read it and tell me 40-something isn't the new 19), romance real-life style (early morning runs, laughter, & food, because everyone needs to eat), and CATS. You know there's gotta be cats.

Get the book:


All good books have one thing in common—they are truer than if they had really happened.
~Ernest Hemingway

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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