Keeping Promise Rock by Amy Lane

Dreamspinner Press

Gay Contemporary

ISBN: 978-1-61581-347-6

Reviewed by Cassie

 

   

 

Carrick “Crick” James had a rough childhood.  His stepfather was a cruel, abusive drunk, and his mother wasn’t much better.  At seven, he stumbled upon Parish Winters’ horse ranch, The Pulpit, and met Parish’s son Deacon, and just like that he found a refuge.  For the next thirteen years, he’s only truly happy at the ranch.  He moves in with the Winters’ after he’s outed in high school and falls more and more in love with Deacon.

Deacon, however, is determined that Crick will have the chance to go to art school and get out into the world.  No matter how much he adores Crick, he doesn’t want to hold him back.  One day he finally succumbs to his emotions, but afterward everything goes wrong.  Crick will be leaving now, just as Deacon always hoped, but not in the way either of them wanted.  And there’s a chance he might not come back. 

Keeping Promise Rock is not an easy book to read.  Crick’s childhood experiences are painful, and they mold him into a man who’s always ready to be abandoned.  He’s happy, hardworking, and loyal, but overlaying it all is a brittle edge of fear and anger, and that molds his reactions to everything.  It leads him into making a few decisions with terrible results.  In Crick’s eyes, Deacon is perfect.  In reality, Deacon is a loving man with a big heart and a great deal of patience, but he isn’t perfect.  He, too, is afraid of being abandoned, and he tries to hold Crick at a distance because of that.  Watching Crick and Deacon make their slow, fumbling way toward each other was hard, but watching Crick self-destruct at the first sign of trouble was harder.  From Part III on, Keeping Promise Rock is downright agonizing to read at times.  Crick and Deacon try to hold it together while they’re apart, but misfortunes at the ranch, some involving Crick’s tough younger sister and other secondary characters, keep Deacon struggling.  The loneliness, confusion, and anger both Crick and Deacon experience brought tears to my eyes many times.  They both make mistakes, including some big ones that cause a lot of hurt.

There were a few times that I wondered if things would work out for them in the end.  Fortunately, both Crick and Deacon are stubborn men, and through it all they cling to their love for each other.  Readers looking for a quick, easy, or light read won’t find what they’re looking for here, but those looking for an emotional, sometimes wrenching, and ultimately uplifting read will find it in Keeping Promise Rock.

     

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