While Mary Calmes is a tough act to follow with me. There are those who are up to the task and one of them is Amy Lane and I just happened to have the audiobook for 'Bonfires' to review so of course when opportunity knocks I always do my best to answer the door.
'Bonfires' is definitely an Amy Lane favorite for me and Nick J. Russo is one of my favorite narrators so there's no way I was passing on this one. Let's start with my review of the book because it still works for me...
Can I just say "Holy Hell! Amy Lane, you nailed it with this one."
Seriously this book was so freaking close to perfection for me. I've been trying to figure out if there was anything that was off, that I didn't care for, or would have liked if it had or hadn't been in the story and seriously folks...I got nothin'. So I'm just going to stop trying on that one.
I loved that the MCs were older not just one, but both of them were in their late 40s. It was excellent. Both of these MCs had been married and had kids. Aaron's a sheriff's deputy, who lost his wife in a motor vehicle accident ten years ago and Mr. Larkin or Larx as everyone calls him is principle at the local high school and they've been dancing around each other for a few years now, until Aaron sees Larx jogging at the side of the road...half naked, sweaty and just too damned sexy to resist Aaron convinces Larx that they need to start jogging together.
These two men fit together so beautifully their relationship may have initially progressed at a quick pace but seriously if you're pushing 50 and you've been dancing around the person of your interest as long as these two have and you need to take mountains of time to figure things out all I can say is "Seriously? Dude get a clue and go for it."
I just need to take a minute here and say one of the best things in this book for me is the fact that Aaron is bi...he's not straight and gay for you, he's unapologetically bisexual and he loved his wife. His memories of her are warm and loving and he doesn't regret a day of being with her. He is a breath of fresh air in the world of bisexual characters and he was monogamous when he was married and he wants that with Larx and Larx isn't afraid that he's going to suddenly want himself a woman one day! Am I tickled pink over this little fact...damned straight I am.
As always Ms Lane gave us a rich and plentiful background of characters for this story to play out with. Some I loved Yoshi! for his name alone he was awesome never mind that he's genuinely a good person, Larx's best friend and the high school's VP and Nancy Pavelle another awesome, spitfire of a teacher, Eamon the sheriff who wants Aaron to run for sheriff when he retires gay, bi, straight he doesn't care he's sure that Aaron's the man for the job. Eamon's wife who may be an awesome cook but should never be allowed to make cookies or possibly bake. The kids between Aaron and Larx, they have 6 and as happens in any house that's filled with love there's always room for more.
Larx gardens, Aaron has chickens, they run, they joke and laugh, the have problems and as everyone with kids knows there's never enough time to be alone and sex is frequently a scheduled event that gets postponed when life adds too many demands to your 'to do' list, but still you hang in there, you work together and you plot and plan until you get the stars to align or there's a good movie playing at the theater an hour away. Of course this all takes a little more effort when you get dead bodies and students getting assaulted while other students are working to make like a living hell for everyone added to life's everyday demands.
This one had it all everyday life, love, romance, teenagers, murder, mayhem, friends from heaven, parent's from hell. I can honestly say if time had permitted I would have happily gone back to page one and started reading this all over again...It was that damned good.
Now about the audio book...all of this plus...Mr. Russo you are awesome. Your character voices for this story were spot on! Not just Larx and Aaron but everyone, Yoshi and all those teenagers and the other secondary characters. It all worked and just made me love this story all the more. I've probably listened to more audio books with Nick Russo than any other narrator and without fail I have enjoyed ever one of them and my 'basic things I look for list' has been met and exceeded each time. In the scheme of things there are a lot of audio books and narrators that I have yet to listen to but with I feel fairly confident saying that Nick Russo is absolutely a favorite narrator for me.
An audio book of "Bonfires" was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.