Throwback Thursday. It's back to cleaning up reviews from the GR conversion. I read this . . . awhile ago.
I’ve only read one novel by Amy Lane and it completely gutted me. I keep meaning to read the rest of her work but something else always gets in the way. When I saw this book available on NetGalleyI grabbed it knowing that I’d probably toss everything else in my life aside until I read every last grueling word. And that’s exactly what happened. It’s probably a good thing most books are easier to put down because my dogs would be mighty skinny.
Chase in Shadow is told entirely from Chase’s point of view. He is a damaged character and will not be someone every reader will love. He’s in a dark, bleak place when the book opens and then the story flashes back a year to explain how he reached such a level of despair. It turns out it was something simmering since childhood but the events of the past year brought all of the pain and ugly to the surface.
Chase is gay but living in denial. He has spent his life refusing to face the truth about himself and has tried to create his idea of a “perfect” life by moving in with his best female friend Mercy. He loves and adores Mercy but not in “that” sort of way but he does a good job of pretending. He lies to himself and to Mercy every day and it is tearing him apart. Needing money to pay his way through college and save for a house he secretly accepts a job as a “gay for pay” porn actor. This reckless move changes his life. He loves touching and being touched in return by the other guys but he can shake it off as just “doing a job”, a fun, sexy and really satisfying job. But then he meets and falls in love with a fellow porn actor named Tommy. Tommy is sweet and wicked and loves Chase desperately. He needs Chase and he has issues of his own and he sacrifices his own well-being to keep Chase in his life. It’s here that Chase’s perfectly built world starts to unravel.
I was off fucking one guy for money and falling hopelessly in love with another guy for no other reason than that he seems to have the key to the door in my soul.
Uh oh. What follows is honest and painful and raw and that’s all I’m saying about the plot. You cannot get more out of me.
Chase lies and cheats and is a bit of a shit to both Mercy and Tommy but he is so filled with self-loathing that I was able to sympathize with him when normally a character like this would have me cursing and damning him to hell. I love that about this book. The characters are achingly real and the author made me feel terrible and heart-broken right along with them. And did I mention the sex scenes? They are as raw (and as well written) as the rest of the story. Even the porn guys become real people not just scenery.
After a long journey out of despair the story ends on a hopeful note but I have a few niggles regarding events near the end that drag it down to a four. Things happen that didn’t quite sit right, though they made me cry, and there will be major spoilers if I don’t shut up now. In the end, I understood Chase, understood why he self-sabotaged himself and did the things he did but I have a suspicion some readers may not. He makes some very bad decisions and is a bit of a train wreck but is still so worthy of love. I recommend this very highly to angst lovers but you should know what you’re getting into. The flaws, the ugliness of life and the pain, it’s all laid out in the open. It’s not easy to read. My heart hurt just as it did the entire time I was reading Amy Lane’s Keeping Promise Rock and that doesn’t happen to me often. I need to read something light and silly next.