Review: Paint It Black (Beneath the Stain #2) by Amy Lane

Everybody thinks Mackey Sanders’s Outbreak Monkey is the last coming of Rock ’n’ Roll Jesus, but Cheever Sanders can’t wait to make a name for himself where nobody expects him to fill his famous brothers’ shoes. He’s tired of living in their shadow.

Blake Manning has been one of Outbreak Monkey’s lead guitarists for ten years. He got this gig on luck and love, not talent. So hearing that Cheever is blowing through Outbreak Monkey’s hard-earned money in an epic stretch of partying pisses him off.

Blake shows up at Cheever’s nonstop orgy to enforce some rules, but instead of a jaded punk, he finds a lost boy as talented at painting as Mackey is at song-making, and terrified to let anybody see the real him. Childhood abuse and a suicide attempt left Cheever on the edge of survival—a place Blake knows all too well.

Both men have to make peace with being second banana in the public eye. Can they find the magic of coming absolute first with each other?

Cheever watched his brothers rocket to stardom, while he remained behind in the hellhole of their hometown. Full of resentment and broken by trauma, Cheever barely makes it day by day.

When it finally becomes too much, Cheever decides to end it permanently. But Blake gets to him just in time.

Blake may have gotten fame and money through the band, but he still has scars from his own past. He knows he needs to take care of Cheever, for as much his own sake as Cheever’s.

Cheever was a decidedly unlikeable character in ‘Beneath the Stain’. He was an awful brother, and just unpleasant.

But it turns out there were some underlying reasons for it all. Heartbreaking reasons.

‘Paint It Black’ is full-on angst-and-pain Amy Lane. My heart broke for Cheever. He definitely could have been a better brother in book 1, but he was just a kid after all. And one who went through the worst.

Seeing Outbreak Monkey’s rise to fame through Cheever’s eyes certainly put things in perspective. The band may have struggled, but so did the people they left behind.

And so it’s not surprising that Cheever would latch on to Blake so quickly, as deprived of love and friendship as Cheever was.

Blake, used to being the one who fades into the back, suddenly becomes someone’s center of everything. He was incredibly sweet. He’s not a hero, and makes mistakes, but he was completely committed to Cheever from the get-go.

Plus, they had the support of the Outbreak Monkey family.

This was the part of the book I struggled with - Outbreak Monkey was just a bit too domestic. The band’s become a bit of a commune. They’re all constantly up in each other’s business.

Though what really made me a tad uneasy was the gender roles within that commune. The Outbreak Monkey women seem to have become relegated solely to childrearing. It didn’t fully mesh with how I remember them from book 1.

While Blake and Cheever fell for each other fairly quickly, I wouldn’t call it insta-love. There’s years of history beforehand, just not in a romantic sense. And when it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be!

The two men struggle through a lot, and get thrown a few curveballs (it’s Amy Lane, after all). But both were committed to dealing with the issues, past and present, to get to their happy ending.

Overall, I enjoyed ‘Paint It Black’. It wasn’t as grand of a romance as Beneath the Stain, but still delivered the angst, complex emotions, growth, and true love you can expect from this author!

A review copy was provided.

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