Title ~ Behind the Curtain
Author ~ Amy Lane
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Genre ~ M/M Romance, Contemporary
Published ~ 6th January 2014
Rating ~ 5 Stars
Dawson Barnes recognizes his world is very small and very charmed. Running his community college theater like a petty god, he and his best friend, Benji know they'll succeed as stage techs after graduation. His father adores him, Benji would die for him, and Dawson never doubted the safety net of his family, even when life hit him below the belt.
But nothing prepared him for falling on Jared Emory's head.
Aloof dance superstar Jared is a sweet, vulnerable man and Dawson's life suits him like a fitted ballet slipper. They forge a long-distance romance from their love of the theater and the magic of Denny's. At first it's perfect: Dawson gets periodic visits and nookie from a gorgeous man who “gets” him—and Jared gets respite from the ultra-competitive world of dancing that almost consumed him.
That is until Jared shows up sick and desperate and Dawson finally sees the distance between them concealed painful things Jared kept inside. If he doesn’t grow up—and fast—his "superstar" might not survive his own weaknesses. That would be a shame, because the real, fragile Jared that Dawson sees behind the curtain is the person he can see spending his life with.
First of all I have to admit something shocking. I’m a Amy Lane virgin. Perhaps the only one in the whole M/M universe. I have only read the Country Mouse series, her collaboration with Aleks Voinov. So I dived head-first into this story and damn, it impressed the hell out of me.
Dawson and his very best friend Benji are running a community college theatre in Rocklin, California. They belong to the people who pull the curtain, and write the plays and make the costumes, the people who make the dream but who don’t live it on the front of the stage. Dawson’s world is very small and sheltered and he is the most loveably sweet guy anyone could ever hope to meet. He’s just hilarious and so damn cute I couldn't help but fall in love with him instantly.
When one day Jared Emory, dance superstar of the Los Angeles Ballet shows up at the theatre, Dawson’s sheltered world turns upside down, because nothing prepared him for falling on Jared’s head. Literally!
Watching Jared and Dawson’s relationship grow is so heart-warming. It isn’t insta-love as I normally read in these types of books. The relationship has time to grow and there is no sex at first sight. They fall in love during an all-night conversation at Denny’s, a diner full of magic, so it seems.
“Don’t underestimate Denny’s… There’s magic at Denny’s.”… “Well see? You can’t doubt magic, then. And you shouldn’t doubt us. Not yet. Not when magic and hard work still have a chance.”
Given Jared’s dancing career in Los Angeles they start a long-distance romance. Even though his body begins to struggle, Jared is obsessed with his dancing.
“I dream sometimes,” he said through a raspy chest. “I dream I can’t move. My body is frozen, and I’m invisible, and I wake up sweating, checking my bones, checking my knees and my feet. I’m terrified I’ll never fly again. I’ll be trapped flat on the ground like a rock. Like I’m already dead. That’s dance. I need it to breathe.”
Dolph, his sleaze ball of an agent doesn’t help him at all, when Jared’s knee is finally damaged. He wants nothing more than to keep him doped up and shove him on the stage, milk him and throw him away once he’s used up. Jared, reserved and lonely Jared. I felt the urge to protect him, to care for him and most of all give this Dolph guy a kick in the ass for the things he expects Jared to put up with… and his parents, for abandoning him.
However, when at some point Jared shows up sick and desperate Dawson finally realises that Jared might not survive his dancing obsession all alone. He starts to see the man behind the curtain, the real, fragile Jared, who thinks poorly of himself. If Dawson wants to spend his life with him, he has to stand up for Jared and take over the reins.
“Do you have any idea how much I’d give—how much I’d dance, how far I’d run, for you to not know any bad thing about me?… But I have to tell you these things, and I think, ‘Oh God. I am the worst thing to happen to Dawson’s life, and I suck.”
Benji is the ultimate secondary character. I have trouble finding words to describe Dawson’s wonderful friend and the brother of his heart. He is a great friend, strong, smart and supportive yet vulnerable. And I don’t want to forget Stan, Dawson’s wonderful dad, Darian, Benji’s girlfriend and Amber, the sad goth girl.
“You can stay the night and everything.”
Jared’s lips quirked up. “Are you sure Benji won’t greet me in the morning with a shotgun?”
“Not if you make him french toast. He’ll totally sell me out for someone who cooks.”
Behind the Curtain was a fantastic read. I really have no words to describe how much I enjoyed this book. Everything about it. The writing is exceptional. Each scene is carefully worded to bring every emotion to life, the happiness, the loneliness, the humour and the heartbreak. The story of Dawson and Jared is simply amazing! I laughed with them, I cried with them, pushed with them through their struggles. The things they have to endure are heartbreaking and at times I didn't know if they could get over it. But leave it to Amy Lane to bring it all together seamlessly.
Overall, let me tell you about my résumé after popping my Amy Lane sherry: Amy can rock the socks off a blank piece of paper. The rhythm of the words, the flow of the story, her style is just brilliant. I fell as hard for the author as I fell for the characters.
Highly recommended! Now off to track down more of Amy Lane’s books. I guess I have lots of reading to do…
Can be purchased from Dreamspinner Press currently at 20% Discount.
Buy Links to Amazon & Barnes & Noble will be added as soon as Behind the Curtain goes live at these retailers.
About Amy Lane
Amy Lane has children, pets, consuming hobbies, an amazing spouse, and a very dirty house. The only time she does housework is Christmas, so that children, pets, spouse, hobbies, and home may exist in peace on hearth for at least once a year.