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When I was introduced to Jeff Beachum in the first Promise Rock book, I was a bit put off by the character. If I were honest, it would be because of my own bias and refusal to relate to such a character. So image my surprise when I began this book to realize that the main character was Jeff and this kid named Collin. My immediate response was that I was not going to like this book. But because I have enjoyed everything else that I have read of Amy Lane's I figured that I would give it a shot. Mary's ability to tell a tale entrapped me in such a way that I was forced to recognize my own internalized bias and deal. Jeff's character was written in such a way that sometimes when he was confronting stupidity, I felt like he was talking to me. Personally, when an author can make the reader revaluate their own perspective, that is the sign of a great author. But enough on Amy. The book, though not as good as the first book, still managed to elicit an emotional response that involved laughter, tears, and compassion for the characters. A cathartic experience and I certainly recommend all three books in the series.
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This is a story about life with all it's twists and turns, the mistakes we make along the way that we (sometimes) pay for the rest of our lives, redemption that comes from the most unexpected places, and the love we surround ourselves with and choose to let in to our lives.
I love that the story revolves around Jeff and getting to see the man behind the "fairy-Jeff-father" always-happy-cracking-jokes guy. To see his vulnerabilities and shortcomings and, ultimately, his willingness to allow love into his life. I loved getting to see his past, his troubles, and his triumphs. Ever since Keeping Promise Rock, when I first met Jeff he's had a little piece of my heart. The oh-so-tough-but-vulnerable man who's built a fortress around his heart and is the happy, funny one who doesn't let the world see his tears broke my heart a little.
I've been waiting for his story and I am not disappointed.
Jeff has been celibate and lonely since his lover, Kevin, was killed in action while on tour in the Marines. Six years later, when Kevin's youngest brother Martin comes to Levee Oaks with a letter from Kevin Jeff's old wounds are ripped open.
Collin Waters has crushed on Jeff since he took the almost eighteen year old boy in his arms for a comforting hug outside their HIV treatment clinic years ago. Collin is determined that even though this may not seem like the best time to get involved, this is going to be the time when he finally gets Jeff to see him, to be there for Jeff, to be his rock, and for them to fall in love with each other.
We get to see the relationship grow between Jeff and Collin regardless of the roadblocks Jeff tries to throw in their way. I love that we get to see the past be put to rest so everyone can focus on the future and, of course, we also get to spend time with the rest of the family: Deacon and Carrick, Shane and Mikhail, Benny and Andrew, Jon and Amy, Kimmy, and new members Lucas and Martin. When Deacon has some health issues, the whole family must come together to be each other's rocks. (Why, Amy Lane? Why? Why do you put poor Deacon through so much??)
"Even if I leave you, I won't leave you, okay? Even if you carry the casket and have to say goodbye and find someone else to love, I'll still be with you, okay? I meant it. Always. You hear?"
WARNING: There are some heavy emotional tides to ride in this installment, though I'm happy to report the devastation and angst aren't nearly the level it is in Keeping Promise Rock (thank heavens).
Once again, I loved Paul Morey's narration! He beautifully captures the people and tone of the story while keeping the flow natural and unhurried. His character voices are just another reason to love the story and immerse myself in the world Amy Lane has created.
“This place, Promise Rock, is where you get to go if you keep your promises to the people who love you. It’s a reward for trusting another soul enough that you let them make you happy. It’s this family’s place, our private place, where we go to tell the world, and God if he’s listening, that we are family because we choose to be. It’s where we make the things in our heart real."
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