Review of The Deep of the Sound, by Amy Lane

Deep of the SoundI received a copy of The Deep of the Sound, by Amy Lane, from NetGalley.

Description from Goodreads:
Cal McCorkle has lived in Bluewater Bay his whole life. He works two jobs to support a brother with a laundry list of psychiatric diagnoses and a great uncle with Alzheimer’s, and his personal life amounts to impersonal hookups with his boss. He’s got no time, no ambition, and no hope. All he has is family, and they’re killing him one responsibility at a time.

Avery Kennedy left Los Angeles, his family, and his sleazy boyfriend to attend a Wolf’s Landing convention, and he has no plans to return. But when he finds himself broke and car-less in Bluewater Bay, he’s worried he’ll have to slink home with his tail between his legs. Then Cal McCorkle rides to his rescue, and his urge to run away dies a quick death.

Avery may seem helpless at first, but he can charm Cal’s fractious brother, so Cal can pretty much forgive him anything. Even being adorkable. And giving him hope. But Cal can only promise Avery “until we can’t”—and the cost of changing that to “until forever” might be too high, however much they both want it.

I don’t usually include a series description, but this one is pretty interesting and gives some insight into the series that i wasn’t aware of when I picked this book up.  So, here is the series description for Bluewater Bay.

Welcome to Bluewater Bay! This quiet little logging town on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula has been stagnating for decades, on the verge of ghost town status. Until a television crew moves in to film Wolf’s Landing, a soon-to-be cult hit based on the wildly successful shifter novels penned by local author Hunter Easton.

Wolf’s Landing’s success spawns everything from merchandise to movie talks, and Bluewater Bay explodes into a mecca for fans and tourists alike. The locals still aren’t quite sure what to make of all this—the town is rejuvenated, but at what cost? And the Hollywood-based production crew is out of their element in this small, mossy seaside locale. Needless to say, sparks fly.

This collaborative story world is brought to you by ten award-winning, best-selling LGBTQ romance authors: L.A. Witt, L.B. Gregg, Z.A. Maxfield, Aleksandr Voinov, Heidi Belleau, Rachel Haimowitz, Anne Tenino, Amy Lane, SE Jakes, and G.B. Gordon. Each contemporary novel stands alone, but all are built around the town and the people of Bluewater Bay and the Wolf’s Landing media empire.

Review:

Well darn, this is the second book in as many weeks that I’ve finished and then discovered it’s part of a series. That really annoys me. On the plus side, if I made it all the way to the end without realizing it, it must be encapsulated enough to stand alone. So, I’m annoyed that the fact that it’s an eighth book in a series wasn’t made more apparent on the cover, or where ever, but I don’t think it effected my read any.

This was my first Amy Lane book and a lot of people seem to love her writing. And while I appreciate a lot about this novel, thought the writing and editing were sharp, etc, I thought the story was far too schmaltzy for my taste. And I have two main reasons for this.

The first is the insta-meaningful relationship. Sure, it’s not insta-love but almost immediately these two men are moving beyond sex or friendship or even getting to know one another into ‘you complete my life’ territory. They then spend an inordinate amount of time telling each-other how wonderful and vital to the other they are.

Second, I just basically hate PSAs in my fiction. I just do. If there are certain issues that are important to the story and a reader needs to know them to understand, sure ok, drop a few facts. But I HATE it when authors use their books as a platform to inform readers on how to be better humans in regard to XYZ. It feels unnatural, pompous and presumptuous. It’s even worse when they do it serially. Lane hits Communicatively Handicapped, FanFiction communities/writing, Gender queers’ pronouns and probably more.

Sure, one character was ADHD, OCD, bi-polar etc. I didn’t feel lectured at because of his diagnosis. Nor did I feel lectured on about the Great Uncle’s Alzheimer’s and only a little about the importance of medication. This just proves to me that important social issues can be handled and included in non-PSA ways. But when Avery lectured Cal (a man who’s lived his whole life and is currently responsible for the care and upkeep of a severely diagnosed brother), and by extension me on CH or that all that’s really important about pronouns is respect it held none of that natural importance to the story. (The latter was about a character that never even shows up in the book.)

My problem is not that I disagree with the message, it’s seeing (or feeling rather) it shoehorned into a story. To me it comes across as an author being like, ‘See how informed and accepting I am? Yes, praise me for my liberal open-mindedness.’ I’m not saying Lane is like this. I don’t know. But I certainly felt this in this book and found it really off-putting.

Having said all that, it was a very sweet story. I liked the characters in general and the writing is perfectly readable.

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