Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Audiobook Series Review: Bonfires + Crocus (Bonfires) by Amy Lane

Title: Bonfires
Author: Amy Lane
Narrator: Nick J. Russo
Release Date: June 9, 2017
Category: Contemporary
Length: 9 hours, 34 minutes

Dreamspinner Press       Audible US

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.

4.5 Stars Overall Book/Audio

I was not expecting this book to be so suspenseful. Really, from the cover I thought it would be more of a sappy romance, with some random family issues and drama thrown in, and WOW!! was I surprised when it wasn’t. Don't let the cover fool you, either, lol. This book was great. A good surprise that pulls you in right from the beginning and keeps you on the edge of your seat every step of the way in needing to know what happens next, and who it will happen to.

I loved that this book featured two later-in-life 40y/o men finding their second chance together. It was super sweet, and really fun to see them acting like teens in a new relationship at times. I know they were older and that sometimes it really didn't feel that way when they talked and interacted with others, but to me that made it all seem more real. They both had kids up to being teenagers/young adults so it was refreshing to see they weren't stuffy and older sounding (40s isn't really that old). I really appreciated the fact that both men made sure that their responsibilities in life (kids and families) were taken into consideration first over their feelings and any relationships they both might have had. It really showed their characters in a positive view.

I think that their jobs - Aaron as the sheriff and Larks as the school principal - really helped them form a deeper bond as well, especially when things started getting a little crazy in their town. They could lean on each other and stand together when it was really needed. These guys were seriously awesome characters.

I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would. One of the main points of this story was the small-town thinking and the overwhelming hate that can come from it. I really believe these guys and their kids and all their friends dealt with the events that happened in an affirmative way. I was a little confused by some of the actions that happened during the conclusion to the mystery aspect and the people who were caught. There were just a few facts that weren’t explained well enough for my liking, but overall this book was a great way to spend some time.

My one hope after finishing this book is that Kellen gets a book too, so he can have his own HEA. He totally deserves it after everything he was put through, the poor boy - I felt so bad for him.

Audio – Nick J. Russo did a great job with the character voices for both men and their families and all the secondary characters we came into contact with. I really liked that I listened to this one in audio compared to just reading it, because I think the suspense and mystery aspect had a bigger impact with being able to listen to the story play out. Great job and I’m onto the next (audio)book in this series.

*** Audiobook copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by Dreamspinner Press for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement
. ***

Title: Crocus
Series: Bonfires: Book 2
Author: Amy Lane
Narrator: Nick J. Russo
Release Date: September 11, 2018
Category: Contemporary
Length: 8 hours, 32 minutes

Audible US

Saying “I love you” doesn’t guarantee peace or a happy ending.

High school principal “Larx” Larkin was pretty sure he'd hit the jackpot when Deputy Sheriff Aaron George moved in with him, merging their two families as seamlessly as the chaos around them could possibly allow.

But when Larx’s pregnant daughter comes home unexpectedly and two of Larx’s students are put in danger, their tentative beginning comes crashing down around their ears.

Larx thought he was okay with the dangers of Aaron’s job, and Aaron thought he was okay with Larx's daughter—who is not okay—but when their worst fears are almost realized, it puts their hearts and their lives to the test. Larx and Aaron have never wanted anything as badly as they want a life together. Will they be able to make it work when the world is working hard to keep them

5 Stars

The second part of the Bonfires series by Amy Lane does not disappoint. I really liked the first book and wasn’t sure what we would get next in the follow up to that. That being said, you really have to read book one in order to follow this one, as if not, I think you will be missing a major part of their storyline and will probably be lost and a bit confused. Also, book one is really good too, so you should really read/listen to it just for that reason - you don’t want to miss out on a great book!

Larx and Aaron finally made a home with all their kids and patched-together family and are getting into the groove of being not just fathers but lovers as well. They always put their family and kids first and I really respect them for that. They have a real down-to-earth relationship that includes actual talking and sorting things out, all the awkward moments that two people can have together, disagreements and fights. We get to see it all with them.

These guys are seriously amazing characters that seem so dang real. Aaron is a sheriff and Larx is a principal/science teacher, so they have dedicated their lives to helping others. So naturally when something happens that puts more kids in danger they just can’t help themselves, which ultimately puts them right into the face of danger.

While book one was more suspenseful, this book isn’t lacking on that front either. However, I do feel like this book was more family focused. We get to see Aaron and Larx and more on how they interact together, with issues arising with their kids, and Aaron getting hurt in the line of duty, and Larx having to hold up the fort at home. Larx's daughter, Olivia, has some major issues to deal with and work out in this book and it’s great that both men take the time to make sure that she is OK and not just avoiding what really needs to be done.

Let me also add that every single time Wombat Willy was said I could not help but giggle out loud. It is hilarious when Elton is given that nickname. The guys reinforce with all the kids that family is forever and that they should all feel safe and secure at home, all while opening Aaron’s home up to others who need a place to stay. God, I loved this story and these men, two fantastic books with the best plot and storyline throughout them.

I really recommend getting both these stories in e-book format at least, but you really cannot go wrong picking up the audio for both books as well, since the narration is wonderful too.

Nick J Russo is brilliant when it comes to narrating. I just like listening to his voice more and more with each narration I’ve heard from him. He has a really pleasant rhythm and cadence to his voice that pulls you into each story. I think he really did a fabulous job with both Bonfires and Crocus, and all the characters involved. And, there were quite a few; he gave the two main characters their own voices along with all their children, and their extended families and friends. He really did well giving us the full picture of the story overall with so much going on in each book.

*** Audiobook copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by Dreamspinner Press for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requiremen
t. ***

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