Bonfires by Amy Lane #BookReview #GayRomance
*** This review is SPOILER FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
“Don’t think I don’t know what you’re risking too,” he said softly. “So when you risk it, I want you to risk it for something you can hold up to the world and say, ‘This! This is us!’ And then we can do it together.” Because last time he’d done it alone. He’d done it more than alone. He’d done it alienated and reviled.
“Thank you,” he said, so moved he couldn’t smile.
“Don’t thank me yet,” Aaron whispered. “Wait until after the kiss. It’s only polite.”
These guys…god, they are so sweet. And mature adults. Who get the chance to be randy teenagers again without sacrificing all the worldly experience that makes them such good guys at heart.
Larx paused, though, gazing at the fire. Such a simple thing, the clearing away of the old stuff, the burning to make way for the new. Comfort and danger all wrapped up in one big, glowing, hypnotic ball.
There are some deep themes running through Bonfires, although that’s probably no surprise considering the author and the professions of the two main characters. Anyone who has ever taught in the U.S. public school system or has spent enough time with kids to understand just how bent they can be will identify with Larx on a personal level. And the very real danger law enforcement officers expose themselves to everyday just can’t be overstated. This story does a great job of wrapping up both the warm-and-fuzzies and the dark-and-nasties of both sides of the public service spectrum.
“So why’d you fight so hard not to be principal?”“What?”Aaron caught the double take from the corner of his eye and grinned. “You obviously admired the guy—why didn’t you want to be just like him?”“’Cause I couldn’t,” Larx said, like it was that simple. “Erickson, he was the best. I couldn’t measure up. I mean… just, no way. And every administrator I ever had, I fought tooth and nail. You know the drill—they’re all ‘test scores, numbers, rules!’ I was all ‘feed the kids, teach the kids, and the rules can go fuck!’”
Reading some of the scenes in Bonfires made my heart hurt for the people out there who are trying to do right by our kids and are being bullied and scapegoated into silence by those in power. This story is as much a statement about how to raise and educate conscientious, emotionally healthy children as it is a romance, and I find that really brave. I also adore that the sex is not toned down or censored. Guys in their late forties will have had plenty of experience to know what they like and get comfortable talking about it plainly, and author Amy Lane just puts it right out there.
Larx’s mouth might have been saying “Get up!” but his muscles were abandoned and limp. “You, my friend, are going to stay here and sleep until at least eight o’clock. I know you’ve got a day of phone calls and home improvement in front of you, but the least you could do is get enough sleep to get it done.”
“You sound all bossy. Just because you topped doesn’t make you the boss of me. Wait until I top. I will be so sweet and submissive to you the next day, you’ll have to check to make sure it was my cock in your ass.”
Bonfires is a story about love and family and being decent human beings, at any age or any stage in life. It’s a romance between two men who have built families and faced loss and carved out a niche for themselves as individuals in their community. It spotlights real issues no one really talks about, community-level challenges that can make or break essential, progressive humanitarian movements.
“That’s really creepy,” Larx mumbled. “I was dreaming about being Billy Pilgrim and humping a porn star while aliens watched.”
Aaron’s eyes widened and the last vestiges of sleep fled like cowardly mice. “What porn star?” he asked, scandalized.
Larx laughed evilly. “Oh, the things I have to show you on my computer.”
“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, a little reddish but very aware. “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?”
So Bonfires is not your typical romance. It will make you really stop to think, and it may challenge some of your truths. And it may just make you cry a little. But in the end, it’s a beautiful story with a happy ending for two middle-aged men—and their two families—men with big hearts and giving souls who deserve a HEA as much as anyone else.
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