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Publisher's Summary

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 50 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.

©2017 Amy Lane (P)2017 Dreamspinner Press

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A rating...

My Review:
Overall: 4.5
Performance: 4.5
Story: 4.75

OMG, I loved this book so, so much. This story is about two older men. Larx is the high school principal. Aaron is the deputy sheriff. Their romance begins when Aaron stops to warn Larx about running on a road with no shoulder. It would be a shame if Larx and his very distracting bare torso became road-pancake. That ends up with them becoming running partners.

They also both have teenagers at the school and as a situation arises with a couple of the football players, they become partners in trying to make the school safe for all the kids.

Seriously, I loved this book so much. Larx works with high schoolers everyday and they love him. He's a great guy who truly cares about his students and they know that about him.

At issue though, for both men, is that their small town isn't all that progressive. If they come out their jobs could be in jeopardy. The entire story worked brilliantly for me. I loved the various teenagers...from the two heroes three kids to the football players, especially the one who was floundering with his family. My heart broke for him.

The book was brilliant. The audio was amazing. I think this will probably be one of those books that I'll listen to again. I do know I need to order it in print, too, because I definitely want it on my keeper shelf.

I loved this book and HIGHLY recommend it!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding from any perspective

I used to wish there were more books about middle-aged people falling in love, but then Amy Lane wrote Bonfires and this one is so good I’m not sure the trope can be duplicated or improved upon.
Aaron is a deputy sheriff, possibly someday the town’s sheriff, if things go to plan. He was married and the father of two daughters and one son. His wife died 10 years ago and Aaron begins exploring his bisexuality when Larx comes into his life. He’s known Larx for a long time but not this way. Aaron has focused on raising his children and doing his job, after moving to a small town where he feels they will grow up safer.
Larx, whose real first name is a secret for most of the book, for good reason, was also married and the father of two daughters. He and his wife divorced, and she plays almost no role in his life or in this book. He is the reluctant but excellent principal of the small town high school. He is also bisexual, and, like Aaron, is approaching 50. When Aaron and Larx’s lives intersect a lot is going on, including love, children, a murder, two boys kissing publically at the annual bonfire, homophobic town people, and a stabbing. It’s a lot to deal with, but Larx is so good at handling everything he’s almost too perfect. But then, that’s what the town and his family needs – a good man.
Larx and Aaron are not out to everyone initially but we get there eventually, and that’s another good thing. The teenagers in the story, including Larx’s, Aaron’s, and the student body at Larx’s school, are exemplary kids. A girl whose mother is a piece of work is caught up in a terrible tragedy that is never completely resolved, but a catastrophe this child goes through could not be resolved quickly or at all.
I enjoyed listening to this story on audiobook as well as reading along in ebook format. That’s my favorite way to enjoy books, two media at once. The narrator, Nick J. Russo, has also been the audiobook reader for several other MM romances I’ve enjoyed, so I was sure this was going to be a perfect reading. And it was. Sorting different voices for the men as well as realistically covering the female voices is a talent that Mr. Russo handles extremely well.
Highly recommended in any format you may choose to enjoy.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A matured romance

This was not your typical romance story -it was so much better. Matured characters, deep story line even the grown children add to the story and it doesn't detract from the romance between the MCs . It has a bit of a whodunit vibe, I was very suspicious of the suspect somewhere in the middle of the story. I loved it. Kept me enthralled from start to finish. I hope their story continues in a book 2. Sad that the story is over.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Bonfire of Home and Heart

This is a comfortable flowing story of 2 really great guys - Aaron and Larks - love this narrator, love these two and their almost lyrical give and take and belief in family and this journey they're all on together. One of the better romances I've read this year. Don't want this book to end and I will listen again. Thanks Amy, I'll look forward to more from you and very much appreciated Chase in Shadow narrated by Sean Crisden as well!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful Story Narrated Perfectly by Nick J Russo

Not too familiar with the writing of Amy Lane, I jumped at the chance to review Bonfires because it was narrated by one of my favorites, Nick J. Russo. I am thoroughly impressed by both the beautiful story and Russo’s perfect narration. This tale has everything I could want: Hot guys, a creative mystery, some interesting family drama, and a very important message.

What a terrific book, and read to me by Nick J. Russo? It’s a win!

Aaron and Larx are such interesting characters. Both men are approaching 50, bisexual, and are single parents who have spent the last 10 years raising their kids. When Aaron gets his courage up to pursue Larx (admittedly he didn’t have to chase too hard) and the two finally get it together, they are on fire. This relationship is Aaron’s first experience with a man, and the scenes of Larx gently guiding Aaron into the wonderful world of hot gay sex, oh yeah it is so well done!

Lane does an excellent job painting the picture of a small, homophobic, rural town filled with interesting characters, and she includes enough action to make nine and a half hours fly by.

Most importantly, I love the messages Lane is sending out - of tolerance, acceptance, and blending folks together to create a family. The drama that unfolds brings these issues to a head, forcing Aaron and Larx to figure out a way to work it all out.

I can’t think of any narrator better suited to this story than Nick J. Russo. The variety in the voices he uses always impresses me, but he has really outdone himself with this one. He imbues such a personal note in both of the main men and they just completely come alive. All the secondary characters are creatively done, and Russo’s performance definitely enhances Amy Lane’s wonderful writing.

Bonfires is a beautifully written story with a powerful message, presented flawlessly by Nick J. Russo.

I enjoyed every minute of the audio version of this book and I’d recommend it to anyone who loves a sweet and smushy second time around romance, with lots of other fantastic stuff thrown in to boot.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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This is one of my new Favorite Amy Stories!

As you all know, I am a huge Amy fan. I’ve read nearly everything the woman has written and I not only admire her writing but think she’s pretty awesome as a person. From knowing a bit about her backstory, I can tell she wrote this book with her own experiences in mind. Larx is a high school principal – reluctantly – and a single parent. He was married before, but after exposing his bi-sexuality his wife left him and the kids. He’s moved from the city (other bad stuff happened there) to a small town to start over. Now, seven years later, he’s still single and thinking it will stay that way til his kids are graduated.

Aaron is the small town deputy, slated for Sherriff in the upcoming years. His wife died in a car accident and though he’s always considered himself bi-sexual he’s never acted on it and really never thought to do anything about it until his kids graduated. When he sees Larx – the man he’s known for years- running down the highway without a shirt a light switches on in his head and suddenly all those plans he had, change.

**
Part of what I absolutely love about this book is that the characters are closer to 50 than 40 and they feel so very REAL. They aren’t in perfect shape – Aaron struggles with his diet – they aren’t sleeping with everything that they see – neither has had any sort of significant anything for years – and they’re parents and their jobs first – not slaves to their lust! They live real lives and have real concerns and yet… Amy manages to find the romance in their lives and bring it out for all to see. It’s magnificent!

In addition to being real people, they have real kids. Neither of them was/is a perfect parent and their kids aren’t perfect either – well – Kirby and Christi might be but…. ☺ …. The kids fight, do dumb things and make mistakes. But – they aren’t evil incarnate either.

I did not see the ending coming… I mean I kinda did… but not exactly. Amy played the mystery out perfectly with just enough hints that you could see how we got there by the end, but it wasn’t hitting me in the face the entire time making me wonder how the MCs couldn’t see the obvious answer.

The good news/ bad news is the “bad guy” in the story is unfortunately very real and very possible. Maybe there were some exaggerations for impact sake, but, unfortunately the people like this exist and that’s up for discussion later.

As for the romance. Ahhhhhhh. Man, I loved these two guys together – so much! If I had any complaints at all it was that we didn’t get to see them together outside of a tense situation for very long. I wanted to see these two settled down and living life – quietly! – for a bit – just because they worked so hard for it (and so did I)!

We also get a bit of a secondary romance (or two!) and I really hope those characters get their own book in the future!

I can’t recommend this enough. It was sweet, exciting, romantic, touching, and also really, really relevant and thought provoking. For fans of the author this is a must, and for any parents, people from small towns, people with brains, or people with hearts – this is a must read!

6 of 5 stars

Audio

Well, you know I love Amy and you know I love Nick so together – Oh Yeah!

Nick is just amazingly well suited to Amy’s language. I love how his voice gives life to her characters. I absolutely fell in LOVE with Aaron’s voice and thought Larx’s voice suited him as well. Nick does the younger voices well, including the females. While it was different than I’d imagined, I loved his choice for Yoshi, too.

All in all a great way to enjoy this and a perfect choice!

6 of 5 stars


2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 Stars

Any additional comments?

There was a lot I loved about this story. From the plot, to the characters, to the romance...I loved pretty much everything.

I absolutely love when I get to see older characters have a chance at romance too. I love that both Aaron and Larx are in their late 40s with baggage and kids and it seemed real. Their romance seemed possible.

Both men are bisexual, but Aaron has always found it easier to be with women so as not to rock the boat. But Aaron has been watching Larx for ten years, and when he finally makes the decision to approach and start something. I loved how the romance blooms spectacularly from there.

I love the way Nick J. Russo narrated this from his wonderful character voices for Aaron and Larx and all the kids and secondary characters, to the way he brings out the emotions without going over the top, to his inflection, tone and pacing. This was an absolutely delightful listen. I was so mad every time I'd have to stop and would wait impatiently to be able to push "play" again.

Nick J. Russo is a go-to narrator for me - if I'm on the fence and not sure whether a book might be right for me and I see he's the one narrating it? Instant buy, because I know he, along with a handful of other narrators, will always entertain me.

The story itself made me mad (on behalf of the main characters and some of the kids), made me laugh, and made me happy. Call me a mush - but this one hit me right in the feels.

Recommended!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Bonfires

I loved this book so when it came out on audio, I had to buy it. I hadn’t listened to it but with the upcoming release of Crocus I decided it was time to refresh my memory. I love this story, in both formats!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • JanetNAZ
  • YUMA, AZ, United States
  • 03-05-18

Inclusion in schools is the keyword!

I love this story. My favorite scene was the School Board meeting when Principal Larkin "told like it is" an shut down the homophobic bigots.

The narrator was real good and brought the characters and scenes to life.

Can't wait to listen to the sequel, Crocus!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • April
  • L.A., CA USA
  • 02-07-18

Older guys, but don't let that put you off.

This couple have had lives... marriages, children, careers, heart-aches... it's complicated. But they are as sweet and as sexy as they can be! And the story is chock full of events and drama, despite the small town setting. A supporting cast of caracters and their sub-plots are wonderfully interwoven with the growing relationship. Amy Lane is a masterful writer who can make every little detail fascinating. Narrator does a good job bringing it all to life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Lily G Blunt
  • 07-28-17

4.25*


This is a tale of two men with teenage children who find love in their late-forties, of finding the courage to come out to the local community, and the impact that responsible and also homophobic adults can have on children’s lives. It’s a story of second chances for love, families, and individuals. It’s Amy Lane, so of course it is well-written, with superbly presented characters and situations. The dramatic climax was an especially intense scene and kept me riveted.

Larx and Aaron’s relationship is the main focus of the story and their romance made a refreshing change because they’re older guys; one is bisexual and in his first relationship with a man. It’s sort of insta-love although they’ve known each other for a few years, but they've suddenly hit it off. Their love-making scenes are particularly hot. I especially liked the roles the teenage children, the sheriff, and the vice-principal played in the story, and how they saw right through what was going on with Larks and Aaron, giving them undivided support and encouragement.

Isaiah and Kellan’s story was sweet and heartbreaking. It sort of fizzled out, so I’m hoping for a sequel to let us know what happens to them.

So, there's lots of positives here, and yet the story didn’t completely bowl me over and make me want to listen again. There seemed to be too much drama and conflict hitting the ‘good guys’ and my attention drifted during some of the dialogue.

The narration by Nick J Russo was superb as always. He has the knack of drawing the listener into a story and sets the tone for every scene perfectly.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Delano
  • 10-08-18

Why did I wait and when can I get my next fix.

There are some books for what ever reason I just pass by, no rhyme or reason I just say nah. Bonfires was on of those books. I love Amy Lane books, I know this. So why did I wait! This book is amazeballs, middle aged men, grown up kids and small town hicks(ooohhh that’s why I passed by the drama level would be beyond the through theroof and I’m middle aged myself, not a tween), wow scary combination or what. But obviously Amy Lanes writing and Nick Russo narration is AMAZEBALLS. I could see Lark in a lot of people I know(even me). Still wanting to beat the system even though your part of it and forgetting some times you are the grown up and really shouldn’t say that thing you really want to say. As for Aaron love, love, love him. No angsts about his sexuality(love the fact his not got the perfect 6 pack as well) and realistically loveable.
I’ve already downloaded and listened to book 2, highly recommend and can’t wait for the rest of the series.

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  • Jules74
  • 07-12-18

Beautiful story!

Story was fantastic, made such a change to have MC's who were that little bit older, they were so sweet to each other and their banter was great. Nick J Russo is one of my go to Narrators, his voice is so expressive and he really manages to give each character such a life of their own. Really liked this one!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • BevS
  • 07-09-17

SUPERB MR RUSSO..... 5 STARS!!

This was Amy Lane back to her brilliant best. The last few years have seen some stories published by her, which to be frank, have outraged certain sections of the LGBTQ community. As an avid reader of all things Amy Lane, but an ally of that community, I was upset on their behalf too, and having read those stories myself, could understand why they were upset; however, I was persuaded that things have changed for the better, and I can definitely confirm that with this story.

Nick's narration of the story was perfect, and an absolute joy to listen to. His intonation, his characterisation, the happiness he seemed to radiate whilst reading told me that he too had immersed himself in the story and was really enjoying it. It was such a refreshing change to read about bisexual older characters and the immense but unfortunate hoops they had to go through, just to be together. Aaron and Larx (and their kids excluding Tiffany) were a delight to hear about, the characters from the town of Colton (especially Eamon the sheriff and the deputy principal of the school whose name escapes me at the mo) were thoroughly believable...in fact, you could practically tell who the pantomime villain was going to be (and wasn't she awful??) I just adored it, and would love more stories about Aaron and Larx, Kellan and Isaiah, and the rest of the town of Colton...read by Mr Russo of course!! 5 💜💜💜💜💜 from me.

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  • Lulu
  • 06-26-17

Simply Amazing

Where does Bonfires rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Top 5 easily!

What did you like best about this story?

I love the mature MCs and their family values.
The love they have for each other and the way they express it is so special.

What does Nick J. Russo bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Nick totally enhances this story and bring a whole different dimension to it.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When they're about to be intimate for the first time and Larx has a mini melt down about the grey hairs in his pubes and Aaron is so god damn sweet about it.

Any additional comments?

I absolutely adored this book when I read it and I loved it just as much listening to the audio. Nick J. Russo really brings the story and these characters to life and I was so totally emerged in it throughout. The way Nick transitioned between the many different characters voices (male and female!) was awesome and faultless throughout.

I love that both Aaron and Larx are pushing 50 and have totally realistic dysfunctional families and a mature outlook on their expectations for each other and what they can achieve together as one big family. It is so refreshingly funny and had me laughing out loud throughout.

Larx is first and foremost a teacher but was pressured in to being principal - a position he never wanted, so he set some ground rules and bought his friend Yoshi in as vice principal and insisted he still be allowed to teach his AP class. Aaron is the towns local deputy and his boss wants him to eventually run for Marshall.

The two have known each other many years through the school, the community and their children. They get to know each other better when Aaron advises Larx not to take his daily run on a busy road and offers to run with him in a morning instead.

This story is not just a man meets man and gets married tale. There's murder, mystery and bigotry to deal with alongside family dynamics and bratty children. The secondary characters in this book are fantastic and so well developed, I loved Kirby and Christina, Kellan and Isiah and of course Yoshi. But there were many more than that and they really all added another dimension to this story.

The romance is not the overwhelming theme of this story but when Larx and Aaron are working on their personal relationship its just so god damn sweet and realistic.

The ending was great and gave a true insight in to their lives as one big family. It's not all plain sailing and not all the kids are on board and theirs an added bombshell from one of the kids at the end but you just know these guys will stick together and work through everything as a team.

A fabulous story and brilliant audiobook!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-15-18

Wow, wow, wow!

Sexy AF but more then that:
This book makes you feel proud to be gay man. Or in my case a gay trans man. It encourages readers to feel like you do deserve a place in this world and that there are people fighting for you.

This book was romantic, uplifting and cozy.

I can't wait to explore more from this author.