Audiobook Tag Team Review: Bonfires by Amy Lane

Ten years ago Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron George lost his wife and moved to Colton, hoping growing up in a small town would be better for his children. He’s gotten to know his community, including Mr. Larkin, the bouncy, funny science teacher. But when Larx is dragged unwillingly into administration, he stops coaching the track team and starts running alone. Aaron—who thought life began and ended with his kids—is distracted by a glistening chest and a principal running on a dangerous road.

Larx has been living for his kids too—and for his students at Colton High. He’s not ready to be charmed by Aaron, but when they start running together, he comes to appreciate the deputy’s steadiness, humor, and complete understanding of Larx’s priorities. Children first, job second, his own interests a sad last.

It only takes one kiss for two men approaching fifty to start acting like teenagers in love, even amid all the responsibilities they shoulder. Then an act of violence puts their burgeoning relationship on hold. The adult responsibilities they’ve embraced are now instrumental in keeping their town from exploding. When things come to a head, they realize their newly forged family might be what keeps the world from spinning out of control.

Narrated by: Nick J. Russo
Listening Time: 9 hrs 34 min

Reviewer- Lost in a Book - 3.5 Hearts

I feel like I need a minute hour maybe a day to recover from everything that happened throughout Bonfires. There was a lot going on in this book…seriously, a lot.

Two older men with kids trying to start over

Blending families

Bitchy daughter

Bigotry in spades

School district politics

High school mean girl

Teen boys coming out

Adult MCs coming out

Crime and murder

All of that is a recipe for a lot of drama/angst and feelzzz.

Aaron and Larx are both single dads in their late 40s. Aaron's wife died years ago and he had 3 kids with her. He is a local cop and his son Kirby is the only one who still lives at home and goes to the local high school. Larx divorced a witch of a woman, got custody of his two girls and they moved to Colton, California where he is now the high school principal.

Throughout the many years of living in the same town, Aaron and Larx have a very cordial relationship considering they are both public servants. However, when Aaron sees Larx running without a shirt on, cordial no longer works.

"One glimpse of that glistening, tan back, those rangy shoulders, the sweat-slicked black hair, and his libido woke up and started to pray to Cialis, goddess of horny middle-aged men." 

Of course, Aaron is only concerned about the safety of Larx running on a dangerous road so he offers to run with him... ya know, for the good of the town. Can't have their principal getting hit by a car and all that. The men beginning running together every morning and during this time, they build a solid foundation for a close friendship which then leads to being more than that. Their relationship progressed quickly and although it wasn't insta-love, it was close.

Here is where one of my issues came in... this is a romance but I felt like their relationship wasn't a main component of the story. Yes, it was there but overshadowed by everything else going on. It was refreshing that the typical drama with younger characters wasn't there; They just got together and that was it, no questions and no back and forth. But, I wanted more of the sweet, sassy and sexy that they had when together.

The murder and other crimes that take place throw the community into a tailspin. The bigots come out in full force and the kids seem to be teaching the adults about love and acceptance. During this drama, Aaron and Larx along with their "kids" build this cocoon of warmth, togetherness and a new definition of family.

I liked this book. Unfortunately, it wasn't love. A lot was happening and at the heart of it I wanted more of the romance. There was an odd loose end with Aaron and his oldest daughter. I was confused why that was necessary when everything else wrapped up nicely into a HEA. My other teensy weensy issue is with the audio version. Nick J. Russo was the narrator and he did a great job with the voices for Larx and their kids. The voice matched their personalities to perfection; even the teenage girls. I had a hard time with Aaron's voice. It didn't seem to match him. The entire time I kept thinking of an old western cowboy when he was speaking.

If you’re a fan of crime with a side of romance, I'd recommend this to you. I’m in the minority with my rating so if you’re a hard core Amy Lane fan, you’ll love this too.

“Huh. Eight, equals, equals, D, squiggly line, greater than, zero?” That made no sense. He pulled the phone back and squinted again.

8 = = D ~ ~ > 0

And saw something that looked damned obscene. Oh my God. I didn’t know you could illustrate a blowjob with ASCII art.”

Reviewer - R *A Reader Obsessed* - 3.5 Hearts 

A fretful audio BR with Lost in a Book!

Well that was far more angstier than I’d ever imagined. I shouldn’t be surprised since this is Amy Lane after all, but thus far I’ve been lucky enough to have not encountered the heavy stuff til now. I’m not saying that this was all doom and gloom, but there were several aspects and a couple of side stories to this that made it much more than a simple romance between two dads who are finally ready to let someone into their hearts and lives. Awwww.

So yes, deputy Aaron and principal Larx contemplate finally moving on from their respective deceased and divorced wives. What starts out as them being running partners soon evolves into something more, as these two discover quickly what they want, what’s important, and are ready to step out and proclaim their love. Ha! Life is never that easy, but it should be in fiction. Not here.

While I do appreciate a nice, no fuss, no muss romance (which honestly that was what I foolheartedly expected) I got something a lot more involved, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Honestly, there’s very little relationship angst between these two wonderful gentlemen, each wanting to care and be cared for. It’s the other people in their lives that give them challenges, food for thought, worries and stress. Just be forewarned that this is wrought with a shit ton of bigotry - past and present, big and small, and for me, it was exhausting as I wrung my hands waiting for the other shoe to drop. Don’t forget to throw in a good dose of fear of coming out, bullying, infuriating politics, and some shocking violence, which apparently is par for the course in small town America.

Again, not at all what I expected, I still had a great time listening to Nick J. Russo. He brings to life Aaron and Larx, and their personal journey had little melodrama and was peppered with some very nice smexy. As Dani has mentioned in her review, there seems to be sequels and spinoffs in the works, which I’m sure will showcase how Larx and Aaron are tested with challenge after challenge in regards to their prominent positions in their community. I look forward to it, but the next time I’ll be prepared with plenty of alcohol and desserts to get me through.

Thanks to the author/publisher for the audio in exchange for an honest review.

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