I'm not sure that I'd say you 'have to' read 'Beneath the Stain' to follow this story but I do think it would be very beneficial and honestly, it's such an awesome story and if you're a fan of Amy Lane, I can't imagine that you haven't or wouldn't want to but that's for each of us to decide.
I loved 'Beneath the Stain' I read the book and I thoroughly enjoyed the audio book. No matter what the format this story just worked for me but now we're faced with the second book 'Paint It Black' and I admit I was nervous...could Ms Lane pull it off could she write a second book that was worth of what she started with and the answer for me was...yes. Was it as good as 'Beneath the Stain' I think that's a matter of individual opinion but for me it was and comparing them was also a little bit like comparing apples and oranges. Both had their own strengths and weaknesses and each story brought a different perspective to the same time frame and some of the same events through the eyes of different characters.
In 'Paint It Black' the focus is on Cheever Sanders younger brother to men of 'Outbreak Monkey' whether by blood or of the heart these men are brothers and 'Blake' his membership to this band of brothers was a little harder earned by he's every bit as much a brother as the the others, he just doesn't realize his own self worth.
Cheever has reached adulthood but it hasn't happened without a price and while his brothers have spent the intervening years trying to reach him. He's had his own reasons for keeping them at arms length, they just weren't as good as he believed them to be. it's said that it takes a village to raise a child...well it can also take a village to pull that same child from their path of self destruction and that's where Blake finds Cheever.
'Paint It Black' was an exercise in perspectives. What Blake and the other band members saw as an young man who was acting out and spoiled turned out to be a young man who was struggling to battle his own demons and hold himself together and failing.
While most of this story takes place at the same time as 'Beneath the Stain' did. Things that happen in this story either weren't reveled in that book or we get to see them from a different (someone else's) perspective.. We also get to know so much more about both Cheever and Blake. I loved having a closer, more intimate look at these two men and their lives.
Both Cheever and Blake have been showing the world a very different person than the one they truly feel themselves to be and in their own way they have each become their own worst enemy. Cheever feels like he doesn't belong and no one truly cares or wants to know what's happening in his life. Blake feels that he's just never good enough and it's not until each of them starts to see themselves through the eyes of those who love them that they also begin to realize their own self-worth. I loved Cheever's friend, Marcia. She was awesome...it took a lot of guts for her to walk out of rehab because she needed to find Cheever and be sure he was ok. She was totally the kind of friend who'd walk in when the rest of the world was walking out.
Marcia wasn't the only awesome woman in this story there were more than a few Heather Sanders Mackey, Kell and Jeffereson's mom but really she was mom to all of them. Briony, Kell's wife she was fierce when it came to keeping the household on track and that may not seemed like much but for this group it really was a crucial part of their life. Sheila, Jefferson and Stevie's wife...she was that bit of calm that buffered them all and helped to smooth the edges when things got rough. Each of these women had their own unique super-power that contributed to making the groups world just that much better and they always seemed to have room in their hearts for one more...it's how a family works.
'Paint It Black' was every bit as gut wrenching and emotional for me as 'Beneath the Stain' but each in their own way. While the ending of 'Paint It Black' was maybe a little more over the top than I would have liked it fit the people in this story. This is a bigger than life over the top family and somehow they just seemed to need and deserve that bigger than live over the top HEA ending...so for me it all worked. I really just need one more thing to make this all perfect...does anyone know when the audio book is come out and can I expect Nick J. Russo as the narrator?
A copy of 'Paint It Black' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.