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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.
Oh lordy. This is Amy at her angstiest. I think this had to be one of my first Amy Lane books ever and it was my first m/m audiobook. It is an absolutely amazing book and series by the very gifted Amy Lane “Queen of Angst”. And it’s long – but so worth it.
There are lots of people to keep track of, but they show up over and over, so it’s worth keeping track of them.
Carrick James “Crick” is the abused stepson of “Step-Bob” who escapes his house to find solace with the horses and men of “The Pulpit” – a horse ranch run by Parish Winters and his son, Deacon. Crick goes there starting as a young boy on the weekends and moves there as a teen when his family kicks him out for being gay.
Deacon is a shy, shy boy who has an interest in both boys and girls. He dates the pixie-like Amy for most of high school, making Crick (who has a massive crush on him) very jealous. Luckily Deacon sees the error in his ways and let’s Amy go so that she can find her own true love with Deacon’s very best friend in the world, John.
The first third of the book is this growth period of youth to young man, from crush to love. It ends with the culmination of that emotion and starts us on the second part of the book – where Crick loses his mind and signs up for the Army.
The second part of the book is Deacon and Crick separated by thousands of miles and in tons of emotional pain. There are several lessons learned during this period of separation and new life given and taken, new friendships forged and love being tested. Bernice “Bennie” – Crick’s sister – comes into Deacon’s life pregnant – the result of being roofied – and helps Deacon to resurface from his depression and helps him to find a reason to keep fighting.
Crick finally comes back to the pulpit but he’s been severely injured and the Pulpit is in dire financial straights ever since it came out that Deacon was “driving while gay” (something the conservative little town doesn’t tolerate).
The third part is Crick and Deacon reconnecting, figuring out how to keep the Pulpit financially solvent and the introduction of several of the characters we will see in future books.
Amy doesn’t pull her punches. It was absolutely brutal some of the things these boys endured while separated. You wanted to (no NEEDED to) punch Crick for being such an idiot at times and you wanted to wrap Deacon up in a hug and tell him it’d be all right.
I love, love, love these characters. Each and every one of them is fully developed and richly portrayed. The emotions are so authentic and the situations, though sometimes ugly and harsh, are deep and real and life-shaping.
For such a long book there is only a minimum of smexy times, but those times are very erotic and well done.
If you haven’t read this series you really should, but have some Kleenex handy and be prepared for an emotional roller-coaster.
Sean Crisden narrates only this first of the series and he does an amazing job. I don’t know how they go about selecting narrators – if anyone does I’d love to know! – but he wasn’t selected for the rest. I thought his Crick and Deacon were excellent, though I didn’t care for his Jeff.
Sean is always good at giving us well differentiated character voices and he really understands and does the emotions so well.
I highly recommend this book and the series.
6 of 5 hearts