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Book Series Discussions > Keeping Promise Rock - Amy Lane's "Promises" Series

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message 1: by Charles (last edited Aug 21, 2013 09:48PM) (new)

Charles (chuck-e) | 306 comments

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.

It was a dark and stormy night. Or perhaps it was one of those beautiful Spring days with a blue, blue sky, fluffy white clouds, and a soft, cool breeze. (I tend toward the former, however.) And Amy Lane wrote a novel about (quelle surprise) the trials involved in two men loving one another.

In any case, Lane has written one hell of a novel. In the words of Thelma Ritter's character, Birdie Coonan, commenting on super-fan Eve Harrington's over-the-top tale of her life in All About Eve: "What a story! Everything but the bloodhounds snapping at her rear end!"

I can't say this is the ultimate Amy Lane story (after all, it's just the first of her Promises series.) So let's say it's a penultimate Amy Lane story.

This novel has everything: a terrific love story, more troubles than Egypt had plagues, war, death, horses, a swimming hole(view spoiler). What more could you ask for?

See, there's this guy, Carrick James Francis (Crick to his friends), who's a wonderful self-trained artist, but gay. For that "sin," he is immediately tossed-out of his home by his skank of a mother and her sanctimoniously homophobic asshole of a second husband, "Step-Bob.")

Crick is taken in by fixer-of-broken-kids horse-rancher, Parish Winters, whose son, Deacon, is Gary Cooper laconic, but boiling with a passion for Crick from the minute he lays eyes on him.

Unfortunately, Crick's life experiences have made him unable to believe that anyone would stick by, and with, him for life.

This is a problem when you're trying to get two people together. Fortunately, we have Amy Lane acting as Fate here.

Deacon is, as is true of one character in virtually every Lane novel, nominally at least, bisexual. He's got this perfect girlfriend, Amy Huerta, who is determined to leave their sinkhole of a town (Levee Oaks, CA - near, of course, to Sacramento as are all Lane's settings.) It just so happens that Deacon's best friend, Jon Levins, wide receiver to Deac's full scholarship-good high school quarterback, is not only movie-star gorgeous, but stuck at being a Kinsey 1 when he so wants to be at least a Kinsey 4 to his buddy. This problem is semi-resolved by the gorgeous Jon being given permission by Deacon to court and marry Amy while they are off together at some impossibly cool university and law school.

Deacon, despite that great football arm, only wants to stay at The Pulpit, his dad's horse ranch. All he wants out of life is to stable, break and breed horses like his pop. Deacon is also real introverted when it comes to showing his feelings for the obviously hot-to-trot Crick. (Besides, he has to wait a few years for Crick to grow up, as the story starts with Deac at around thirteen or fourteen, and Crick even younger.) Young love, however, knows its object when it sees it, and is quite content to wait for puberty to kick-in.

After both boys have matured, and Crick is living full-time at The Pulpit (because he came out to skank mom and Step-Bob and was tossed-out of the family shack), there is a Amy Lane-level sex scene at the eponymous Rock which overlooks the only swimming hole within reasonable distance. Hence, Promise Rock remains, in both men's lives, as a solid symbol of their love for one another.

EXCEPT, Crick is unable to believe that anyone could love him, commit to him, and accept the fact that, despite his obvious talent for drawing beautiful art, really only wants to remain at The Pulpit with Parish and Deacon.

This "personality quirk" leads, for reasons for which you need to read the book, to Crick enlisting in one of this country's top-three stupidest wars, Iraq, and having to leave Deacon and The Pulpit for his two year deployment. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is still in full swing (the book was written in 2010), but Crick is too honorable, and determined to do the right thing, to come out to his EMT buddies or his commander.

While Crick is fighting for his country, and attempting to clean up Dub-yuh's war, Deacon is outed to the generally homophobic folk of Levee Springs. This leads, natch, to horses being pulled from his oversight (the words "horse AIDS" is actually used several times in this story), with The Pulpit's finances suffering accordingly. All this leads to Deac, whose late mom was a semi-functioning alcoholic, going biblically off a wagon he had, until then, always been on.

The scenes of him trying to pull himself together for Crick's sister Bernice ("Benny" for short) because she's been knocked-up by a James Spader type of rich, spoiled sleazebag, then tossed to the curb by her moral skank mom and Step-Bob, is one of several frighteningly realistic scenes that raise this book about melodrama. (Remember what I said about this book having everything but the bloodhounds snapping at Eliza's glutes?)

Over in "Bush's Bungle," our other MC is wounded on his way home from his two years of hell, leading to not only more feelings of inferiority because of his subsequent scarring, but the introduction of REALLY gay physical therapist, PA Jeff Beachum, who will become a central character in a subsequent iteration of this series.

(view spoiler)

Regardless of the somewhat light (snotty) tone adopted by your reviewer, I very much liked this novel, as I have liked everything Lane has written. She's the only author who could, literally, have at least half the Ten Plagues of Egypt visited upon the characters of this novel, yet end on a upbeat and loving note.

I adore Amy Lane. I love Amy Lane's novels. If you haven't read any of them, this probably isn't the novel to start with (try Sidecar or, if you know the words to Love For Sale, there's always Dex in Blue); but for those of you who are fans of the wonderful Mrs. Lane, this novel is really something.

If you don't like Amy Lane, you're wrong - and probably a bad person to boot. Hell awaits.


message 2: by PaperMoon (new)

PaperMoon | 665 comments Chuck wrote: "If you don't like Amy Lane, you're wrong - and probably a bad person to boot. Hell awaits."

This is just too funny and amusing Chuck ... I so missed reading your reviews (and occasional rants too). I'll add this to my TBR since I haven't read a Ms Lane tale for a while; although I believe I have Hammer & Air and How to Raise an Honest Rabbit still unread on my Kindle.


message 3: by Mercedes (new)

Mercedes | 373 comments Oh no! I am going to hell!! However, I am NEVER wrong, my husband will tell you :-D


message 4: by Liz (new)

Liz Winters (lizwinters) | 54 comments PaperMoon wrote: "Chuck wrote: "If you don't like Amy Lane, you're wrong - and probably a bad person to boot. Hell awaits."

This is just too funny and amusing Chuck ... I so missed reading your reviews (and occasio..."


A bit off topic, but "How to Raise an Honest Rabbit" is the best! It was the first Amy Lane book I read and it's still my favorite (although Sidecar is a close second and there are many I haven't read yet).


message 5: by Charles (new)

Charles (chuck-e) | 306 comments PaperMoon wrote: "Chuck wrote: "If you don't like Amy Lane, you're wrong - and probably a bad person to boot. Hell awaits."

This is just too funny and amusing Chuck ...

I so
X reading your reviews (and occasio..."
.


When I say this book is a different Lane novel, I definitely mean that it's unusual even for AMY LANE!! I would stick with the bunnies ("George,can I pet the bunnies?") before reading this novel. I do not exaggerate that at least half the Biblical plagues visited upon Pharaoh are dumped on poor Deac and Crick. Sometimes,it seems like Amy was adding things to see if she just COULD! Apparently she seems to add tsuris just for the hell of it. It can be a pretty tough read at times (and I say this after "Dex" and "Chase".) This is a story one needs to build up to (or be REAL sick of YA novels as I was.) What I'm saying is that this is not even typical Lane - a whole lot happens to a whole lot of people, and I wouldn't want to harsh anyone's high. This is a love story for when you really don't believe there is such a thing. It's special, but in a very special way. I must say this isn't my favorite of the Lane novels I've read so far. Save it for a special occasion. Or you'll go to hell. :-)


message 6: by Charles (new)

Charles (chuck-e) | 306 comments Mercedes wrote: "Oh no! I am going to hell!! However, I am NEVER wrong, my husband will tell you :-D"

Mercedes, A dispensation has been granted by the literary gods. You MAY skip this novel and still pass Hell! We checked with your husband, and he told us that, as it has ever been, so shall it ever be. Evidently,girl, you are off the Inferno Express. Rejoice, you are saved!


message 7: by Charles (new)

Charles (chuck-e) | 306 comments Liz wrote: "PaperMoon wrote: "Chuck wrote: "If you don't like Amy Lane, you're wrong - and probably a bad person to boot. Hell awaits."

This is just too funny and amusing Chuck ... I so missed reading your re..."


Liz,haven't read "Rabbit," but I feel I must. If it's better than "Sidecar," it must be something! I look forward to reading it soon.


message 8: by Liz (new)

Liz Winters (lizwinters) | 54 comments Chuck wrote: "Liz,haven't read "Rabbit," but I feel I must. If it's better than "Sidecar," it must be something! I look forward to reading it soon."

Don't get me wrong, "Sidecar" is wonderful and I'm sure some of my preference is due to the fact that "Rabbit" was my fist Amy Lane book, but there is something so absolutely sweet about that story and the way the relationship between the two MCs evolves. And I am totally gaga over Jeremy, especially after reading "A Knitter in his Natural Habitat." He's one of my all-time favorite m/m characters.

Now, I know that "Rabbit" is No. 2 in the series. I did not know that when I bought and read it, based on title and cover alone (I used to have a pet rabbit, so the bunny on the cover sold the book for me,) but I'm so glad, because I really did not care for "Winter Courtship Rituals...," the first book in the series, and if I had read that first I probably would not have gone on to read Rabbit.

But really, when it comes to books, my tastes are eclectic and odd, which is why I hesitate to review in the first place.


message 9: by Charles (new)

Charles (chuck-e) | 306 comments Liz wrote: "Chuck wrote: "Liz,haven't read "Rabbit," but I feel I must. If it's better than "Sidecar," it must be something! I look forward to reading it soon."

Don't get me wrong, "Sidecar" is wonderful and ..."


I had absolutely no idea how many series Amy Lane had running. The Knitting Series has always fascinated me because my aunt taught me to knit when I was a kid. I think I could still do it - but someone has to start that needle for me. Now THERE'S a hobby for an old retired fart to pick up and run with. Reading and knitting.......I sound like Miss Marple! I can hardly wait.

Oh, how I wish you hadn't told me that the Bunny book was the second in the series. I'm SO famous for reading second novels in series, then reading backwards. I swear to read the first novel first, THEN enjoy the Bunny book. A reccy. from you is so appreciated.

Has anyone read the Talker Series? I've heard it's a series of novels and novellas rather than Mrs. Lane's normal lengthy novels. I love the tattoo premise, though.

It looks like I'm gonna be a judge in the Rainbow Awards, so don't know how much time I'm gong to have to do anything other than that. Can't wait, though. Love reading new material from new writers.

I'll keep you posted on Chux Bulletin Board..


message 10: by PaperMoon (new)

PaperMoon | 665 comments Chuck wrote: "It looks like I'm gonna be a judge in the Rainbow Awards, so don't know how much time I'm gong to have to do anything other than that. Can't wait, though. Love reading new material from new writers."

Oh well done Chuck. Enjoy! I'm plowing through Lane's 'Bunny book' at present and having me a wonderful time. You'll love it too.


message 11: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (racheljt) | 52 comments Chuck wrote: It looks like I'm gonna be a judge in the Rainbow Awards, so don't know how much time I'm gong to have to do anything other than that. Can't wait, though. Love reading new material from new writers.."

I'm glad you managed to make contact eventually. I'm on my third year and love it. It's good to read things I wouldn't otherwise consider.


message 12: by Mercedes (new)

Mercedes | 373 comments Congrats Chuck on the new gig!!


message 13: by Allan (new)

Allan | 16 comments The Promises series is one of my all time favourite series of books by any author. I do like the way all the angst possible is chucked at the characters. Watching them get through it is the best kinda read. Well it is for me anyway.


message 14: by Charles (new)

Charles (chuck-e) | 306 comments Allan wrote: "The Promises series is one of my all time favourite series of books by any author. I do like the way all the angst possible is chucked at the characters. Watching them get through it is the best ki..."

Amy Lane is a never-fail good read. I really enjoyed the first book in the series, and am (eventually) going to try to get through the entire series as it develops. She keeps writing stuff I want to read - and there are only so many hours in a day.


message 15: by Ulysses (new)

Ulysses Dietz | 1589 comments "Forever Promised," the last of the Keeping Promise Rock series...by Amy Lane

You know, it's very awkward, standing on a crowded suburban train platform, to have to blink back tears so that the people who see you there every day don't witness you crying like a girl in your bow tie and tweed overcoat.

Amy Lane is the Empress of Angst. And the finale of her Keeping Promise Rock series is the perfect final episode in the grandest tear-jerking gay literary soap opera ever written.

"Forever Promised" is not really a book for anyone who has not read all four books in the series. I was very grateful that Lane gives us a bit of a flash-back opening chapter, recapping something of the interconnected stories of all the various couples who make up the motley family of Deacon and Carrick. Although the first three books each focus on a single couple - Deacon and Carrick, Shane and Mikhail, Collin and Jeff - each volume in this heartfelt gay version of Peyton Place includes a host of important secondary characters who serve variously as Greek chorus, supporting players, and plot twists for the central duo. Lane revels in broken characters, and while her protagonists are all gay, they are surrounded by straight people who love them and help them and hurt them and generally wallow in the emotional overflow that makes these books breathtaking in their fullness.

The final episode (this would make an awesome TV series, let's say four seasons) includes every one of the significant players, and ties together all of the complexly interwoven stories that have made Levee Oaks, California, one of the most fascinating dull little towns in the world for Lane's adoring fans. Lane wrote this book purposely to say goodbye to Promise Rock, the sheltered swimming hole where all of the major sacraments of these people's shared lives take place. For the reader attuned to her particular brand of drama, it is a worthy ending to a most rewarding romantic series.


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