When I got the invite to come and post reviews here at Amara’s Place, I spit an entire mouthful of wine all over my (still) indignant Siamese kitty, Mai, just from the sheer excitement of knowing I was going to get to be part of what I think of as a really fun place to hang out in the cyber-world. I know Amara through the friend of a friend, and I—okay, I’m giddy about it still, but I’m going to stop gushing about Amara and her Place and all the fun that happens here and get on with my job. I’m a reviewer, and I take my job very seriously. The ways that word can reach across the empty places between people are profound, unending, and nothing short of miraculous. I try to give that the full weight it deserves as I read through a work. I soak the words in, turn them over and around… and then pretend I’m seeing them through someone else’s eyes just to see what they would say.
Once I do all of that?
I pull my hair up in a pretty clip, put on my best lipstick, and get ready to give you everything I’ve got. Between you and me everything just looks better when your hair looks pretty and your lipstick is on just so.
The Down~Low with Nikki-O
CHASE IN SHADOW by Amy Lane
Here, right here, there needs to be an icon for reverent silence. An icon needs to be created for that and for the sound of choices so hard that they are nearly soul-destroying no matter which direction one chooses, for such sounds echo throughout this stunning work.
Here is a beauty fully as sharp as the razor’s edge of sorrow which Chase, the protagonist of Ms. Lane’s masterpiece dances upon.
Here is a lie so crushing it falls beyond the blackness of utter despair to exist the small white space where Chase huddles, trembling beneath the shockingly brutal bonds he has wrapped around and around his heart.
Here is the blood red color of silent terror amidst impossible choices.
Here is the sliver of hope that love brings even as it destroys all defenses.
Here is Chase In Shadow.
A 5 out of 5 Martini Read (in Amara’s Place speak that = 5 of 5 Stars)
Warning: not for the faint of heart…
Chase in Shadow is a punch to the gut. If you have an open heart and absolutely zero trauma in your entire life or the lives of those you love it will give you a clear look into the wounded heart of a child hiding out in the body of a man who has lived his entire life inside a hell of his own making. If you have trauma, or love someone who does, have the Kleenex at the ready, and keep the therapist on speed dial. You may well need both, because Chase will rip away the hasty patchwork dam between you and the festering pus of things unsaid in your heart. He will leave you raw and bleeding and oh, gods above, so very hollow. And then he’ll rub your back, and tell you to rest, because the next part is harder, and even though you’re shit scared to even move on to the next page in his story it’ll all be okay because… he believes in you. He believes you can crawl out of the dark place you’re hiding in and be naked in the world. He believes that someone, somewhere can love you. You. Just exactly like you are and just exactly how you will be and you don’t have to change a single thing, no, not one—except for the lies you tell yourself in the silent spaces in your mind but never ever say out loud to anyone who might care.
This is who Ms. Lane gives us in Chase Julian Summers. A hero who saves himself and looses himself and forges a path through the dark wilderness of his own soul in the beautiful fictional world of Sacramento so very well that someone lost in the real world can follow that same path to find a way through the wilderness of their own souls. She does it with words woven so tightly together you cannot see the seams where she’s sewn these characters together out of the fabric of her imagination. The story fades between Chase’s two lives as skillfully as the camera cuts in his gay for pay life occur. On the job, where as Chance-the-straight-guy doing gay porn gets down and dirty with other dudes even though he has a pretty wonderful girl waiting at home in complete ignorance of his duplicity. The disconnect between the two halves of his life are shaped with rock solid words which leave you, the reader, looking out through Chase’s eyes in every instance. The sex is hot and necessary to both the story’s forward growth and the characters immediate needs for connection to one another.
When Chase has sex with his girlfriend Ms. Lane keeps you inside his skin, and you feel everything… and none of it touches you anymore than it touches Chase as he makes it good for her and dies a little inside.
The sex at work is hard, hot, and feels just like flying… and you fly with him, lifted into the stratosphere by clear descriptions and riveting images.
The sex with Tommy is sweet, hard, dirty and beautiful and oh, be careful there, be careful. The net of words Ms. Lane weaves around you tightens in those passages until you are struggling, gasping breath for breath with Chase as he takes what he needs and gives what he can to the one person in the world who heard him crying out in pain and begged to sit with him in that awful place that words couldn’t touch just so he would not be alone.
Ms. Lane lines up words to describe one of Chase's lives in neat little rows, while in the other she leaves the words jagged and screaming and as Chase transitions in-between porn life and his picture perfect two point five kids and a picket fence one she weaves a free floating view of how he looks from the outside, once everything is pretty, and perfect and he can see the playback of his latest porn role… This is the magic Ms. Lane crafts with her words.
The subject matter of this book in and of itself would touch many of us, I think, in a profound way. To have such hard truths and painful realities presented in a manner that we may see the events from the inside out is what marks this story as great in my opinion. Yes, in all seriousness, I do not hesitate to say I truly believe that one day this book will save someone’s life, their sanity, their sense of self… because someday, somewhere, another wounded heart is going to find this magnificent book while they are lost in the wilderness, dying of exposure, and it is going to save their lives. That is the highest praise I can possibly give.
Read this book.
If you read it with an open heart and an open mind:
It can change your life. It can make you a better person. And it will likely scrape you hollow along the way, in the most excruciatingly painful way possible… but it will also likely lead you to a place of understanding that will allow you to touch the people in your life in new ways, with sincerity and heart and a wide open love.
Chase wasn’t strong enough at six to pull himself out of hell, and no one who cared enough to help him ever heard his screams. Not until he met Tommy Halloran, who held the key to a little room full of horror in Chase’s mind. This story is going to hurt you… but be brave. Read it anyway. It will leach poison from you and pull the scales from your eyes and that, in my opinion, is worth a little pain.
Ms. Lane’s story is so skillfully written I was never once thrown from the story. The plot, setting, and character development were flawlessly executed. The writing style was sharp and jaggedly full of teeth. It needed to be to tell this hurtful story where nearly everyone hurt someone they should have been loving on instead. No one was a cartoon villain, cackling over their latest misdeed as they rubbed their hands together, and no one was a glorious angel of mercy. They were all real, raw, and so damned human it just fucking hurt.
Bravo, Ms. Lane.
And that's the down~low on Chase in Shadow.
Ms. Lane can be found with a laptop in one hand, a set of knitting needles in the other and a host of amazing folk dancing through both her head and her home. If you don’t believe me, get yourself over to her points of contact and check it out for yourself.